CONCEPT OF LIMITATION AND PERIOD FOR CASE FILING
Author: NAGA OM SIVA SHIRDIK
The concept of Limitation was incorporated in Section 3 of the Limitation Act, 1963. The Limitation Act forms a complete code by itself and outside it, there is no law of limitation excepting specific provisions in special Acts. When a specific article in the schedule covers a particular case, a general article cannot be invoked. Bar of limitation does not apply to a plea in defense. Extension of a prescribed limitation period in certain cases is provided under section 5 of the Limitation Act.
If sufficient cause is prima-facie to be found in the application seeking condonation of delay and ignorance of the law is not an excuse and law of limitation only bars the remedy but does not take away a defense. Section 5 and Section 12 of the Limitation Act do not apply to execution under Section 8 there are special exceptions and Section 12 shows the competition of period of limitation.
In total there are 31 sections under the Limitation Act, 1963 which curtails unnecessary and prolonged litigation, and therefore as per Sections 2 and 3 of the Act, a schedule has been incorporated to show the periods of limitation.
1. Part-I of the schedule shows the suits relating to accounts and its limitation.
2. Part-II of the schedule pertains to the suits relating to contracts and their limitations.
3. Part-III of the schedule relates to suits relating to declaration and period of limitations.
4. Part-IV of the Limitation Schedule relates to the suits relating to decree and instruments.
5. Part-V of the schedule relates to the suits of immovable property.
6. Part-VI of the schedule relates to the suits relating to movable property.
7. Part-VII of the schedule relates to the suits relating to tort.
8. Part-VIII of the schedule relates to the suits relating to trustees and trust property.
9. Part-IX of the schedule relates to the suits relating to miscellaneous matters.
10. Part-X of the schedule relates to the suits for which there is a prescribed period.
Article 1 to 13 comes under Part I to X in the first division belongs to suit. Article 114 to 117 belongs to Appeals and its limitations are shown in the second division. In the third division, the application in specified cases is shown under Article 118 to 137.
Article 1 to 137 clearly shows the period of limitation except the said article nothing can be seen and the said articles shall apply to all the suits and other miscellaneous applications.
PERIOD OF LIMITATION:
1.Article 1 to 55 relates to suits on Accounts and the period of limitation is 3 years.
2. Suits relating to Declarations under Article 56 to 58 the period of limitation is 3 years.
3. Suits relating to decrees and instruments as per Articles 59 and 60 the period of limitation is 3 years.
4. Suits relating to the immovable property under article 61(a) and 61(c) the period of limitation is 3 years and Article 61(b), 64,65,66 and 67 the period of limitation is 12 years and under Article 63(a) in respect of foreclosure under mortgage the period of limitation is 30 years.
5. In respect of movable property the period of limitation is 3 Years under Article 68 to 71.
6. Suits relating to tort under Article 72 to 81 the period of limitation is 1 year and under Article 82 to 84 the period of limitation is 1 year and under Article 85 to 91 the period of limitation is 3 years.
7. The suits relating to trusts and trust property the period of limitation under Article 92, 94, 96 is 12 years and under Article 93 and 95, the period of limitation is 3 years.
8. In respect of the suits of miscellaneous matters under Article 97 to 100 the limitation period is 1 year and article 101 to 105 the period of limitation is 1 year and under Article 106 to 110 the period of limitation is 12 years and under articles 111 and 112 the period of limitation is 30 years.
9. Suits for which there is no prescribed period the period of limitation is 3 years under Article 113.
10. In respect of appeals under Article 114 to 117 application in article 118 to 137 the period of limitation would be 90 days, 30 days, 60 days, 10 days, 1 year, 3 years, 12 years respectively as the case may be.
CONCEPT OF SUFFICIENT CAUSE:
Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 enables the court to condone the delay in filing an appeal or application, if the appellant or applicant satisfies the court that he had "sufficient cause" for not preferring an appeal or making an application within such period.
In the case State of West Bengal v. Howrah Municipality, the court held that “The expression "sufficient cause" has not been defined in the Act. It is, however, very wide, comprehensive, and elastic in nature. It is also construed liberally by courts to advance the cause of justice50 Such discretion, however, should be exercised judiciously. "Sufficient cause" cannot be liberally interpreted if negligence, in-action or want of bona fides is attributable to the party in delay”.
In the case Basawaraj v. Land Acquisition Officer, the court held that “Even though limitation harshly affects rights of a party, but it has to be applied with all its rigor when prescribed by a statute”.
In the case State (NCT of Delhi) v. Ahmed Jaan, the court further clarified that the term 'sufficient cause has to be considered with solving problems in a practical and sensible way rather than by having fixed ideas in a justice-oriented approach rather than looking at the observation or detection of a reasonable cause for justifying every day's postponement.
In the caseRamlal v. Rewa Coalfields Ltd,The Supreme Court held that while interpreting Section 5 laid down a few propositions. There are two mainfactorsthat have to be kept in mind while interpreting the section. Firstly, the right existed and established in support of the decree-holder to treat the decree as an agreement involving an obligation that cannot be broken and binding between the parties after the period of limitation for making an appeal is over, should not be hindered. Secondly, the freedom to decide whether to condone the delay and acknowledge the appeal is given to the court, which cannot be compromised. This is done with an aim to advance substantial justice and satisfy a standard of fairness.
In another case N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy, the court further added more detail on the point of condonation of delay in the case, the sole criteria is to the acceptability of the explanation; the duration of the period of delay does not matter. There have been cases where a slight postponement or delay in filing the application has not been approved due to unacceptable reasons; whereas, on the other hand, the court has neglected years of postponement or delay as the reason provided was adequate and satisfactory. This was recapitulated by the court in State of Nagaland v. Lipok AO.