NCDRC Issues Directions For Computation Of Limitation Period After Supreme Court Restores Limitation Extension

By – Nancy Kumari

After the Supreme Court of India’s recent order extended the limitation period for filing cases and operations in wake of the swell in COVID-19 cases, the Public Consumer Disagreement Redressal Commission has issued directions to its Registry for compliance and calculation of the limitation period. Taking note of the swell in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Supreme Court on 10th January 2022 directed that the period from15.03.2020 till28.02.2022 will stand barred for the purposes of limitation as may be specified under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi­ judicial proceedings. Directions for Calculation of detention in similar matters in which Limitation had formerly expired on or before14.03.2020, The Commission has directed that the detention in filing the matters including Modification Desires, First Appeals, Consumer Complaints, Written Statements, Operations, etc. which will be filed on or after 1st March 2022, in which limitation had formerly expired on or before14.03.2020, will be reckoned in the following manner. The number of days of detention, in excess of the period of limitation handed in in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, or the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (as may be applicable), will be reckoned from the date of damage of the free certified dupe of the order of the State Commission till14.03.2020 ( i.e. before15.03.2020) The period from15.03.2020 to28.02.2022 shall be barred for calculating limitation. The number of days of detention from01.03.2022 ( including01.03.2022) till the date of the form of the matter shall be computed. The number of days reckoned at (i) and (iii) above shall be added to arrive at the total number of days of detention in the filing matter. Computation of detention in similar matters in which Limitation expires between15.03.2020 and28.02.2022. The Commission has directed that detention in filing the matters where limitation is expiring between15.03.2020 and28.02.2022, will be reckoned in the following manner. The period from15.03.2020 to28.02.2022 shall be barred for calculating limitation. The limitation shall be further extended by 90 days from01.03.2022, i.e. till29.05.2022. Since29.05.2022 is Sunday, the matters filed on30.05.2022 will be considered to have been filed within limitation. Still, if matters are filed on31.05.2022 or later, also detention shall be reckoned from30.05.2022onwards.The matters in which the limitation ( handed in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 or the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, as may be applicable) is expiring during the period from15.03.2020 to28.02.2022 (i.e., before01.03.2022), and such a matter is filed during the same period (i.e from15.03.2020 to28.02.2022) with some detention, similar matter will be treated as having been filed within the limitation. The National Commission has further stated that the Supreme Court directions won’t apply to the matters filed or introduced against similar orders which will be passed by the State Commissions on or after01.03.2022. In such an event, the standard procedure for the calculation of limitations will apply. Supreme Court’s Bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice L Nageswara Rao, and Justice Surya Kant on January 10th passed the order extending limitation on an operation filed by the Supreme Court Lawyers-on-Record Association (SCAORA) in the suo motu case In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation. The SCAORA sought for restoration of the limitation extension-which was withdrawn with effect from October 2 last time when the COVID cases subsided- taking note of the rising cases of COVID in what appears to be the third surge of the epidemic driven by the Omicron variant of Coronavirus. It was on March 23, 2020, that the Supreme Court ordered the extension of limitation for the first time after taking suo motu cognizance of the Covid-19 situation. Noticing that the country was returning to normality, the Supreme Court had on March 8, 2021, ended the extension of limitation with effect from14.03.2021, observing that the COVID-19 situation has bettered. Still, the orders were revived in the wake of the alternate surge of Covid-19 in April 2021. The same was withdrawn by order dated 23rd September with effect from October 2, 2021, after noting that normality was returning.

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