The law of limitation means a suit which is brought before the Court after the expiry of the time within which a legal proceeding should have been initiated will be restricted. The law of limitation is derived from two maxims:
- “Interest Reipublicae UT Sit Finis Litium” which means that in the interest of the state as a whole there should be a limit to litigation
- “Vigilantibus non dormientibus Jura subveniunt” which means the law will assist only those who are vigilant with their rights and not those who sleep upon it.
The main object of this Act is to specify the statutory time frame within which a person may initiate a legal proceeding or a legal action can be brought. If a suit is filed after the expiry of the time prescribed it will be barred by the Limitation. As per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, provisions of the Limitation Act will now apply to the whole of India. The Limitation Act, 1963 contains provisions which are related to the computation of time for the period of limitation, Condonation of delay, etc. The Act contains 32 sections and 137 articles which are divided into 10 parts. The act is exhaustive as it applies only to civil cases except in the matter expressly and specifically provided for that purpose. It generally starts when the cause of action arise or from the date when the summons or notice is served, or the date on which the decree or judgment is passed. According to section 3 of the Act if any suit, appeal or application is brought before the Court after the expiry of the prescribed time then the court shall dismiss such suit, appeal or application as time-barred. The law of limitation only bars the judicial remedy and does not extinguish the right .The original right to suit is not barred. However exception of this is given under Section 27 of the Act. According to Section 4 of the Limitation Act it is provided that when the period of limitation is prescribed for any suit, appeal or application and such period expires on a day when the Court is closed, such suit, appeal or application shall be instituted, preferred or made on the day on which the Court reopens. Explanation to this section is a Court shall be deemed to be closed on any day if during any part of the normal working of the Court it remains closed on that day. Sufficient cause means that there should be adequate reasons or reasonable ground for the court to believe that the applicant was prevented from being proceeding with the application in a Court. Whether an applicant has given a sufficient cause or not depends upon the discretion of the court and the facts of each case. For Example: a Court can condone the delay on the basis of medical grounds. As per Section 4 of the Act if the period prescribed for any application expires on the day on which the court is closed, the application shall be made on the day on which the court reopens. Under section 16 to 23 of the Act cases related to Postponement of Limitation are provided. An order which exceeds the jurisdiction of the court is void or voidable and can be taken up in any proceeding in any court where the validity of the order comes into question.
- BK Education Services Private Limited v. Parag Gupta and Associates, the Supreme Court states that the law of limitation is procedural law and it will be applied retrospectively.
- Thirumalai Chemicals Ltd v. Union of India in this case Supreme Court observed that statutes of limitation are retrospective as they apply to all legal proceedings brought after their operations for enforcing causes of action accrued earlier.
- Excise and Taxation v. M/S Frigoglass India Private Ltd, in this case Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that law of limitation is well-settled procedural law and operates retrospectively unless provided differently while amending statute.
- Punjab National Bank and Ors v. Surendra Prasad Sinha Supreme Court in this case held that the rules of limitation are not meant to destroy the rights of the parties as Section 3 only bars the remedy and does not destroy the right related to remedy.
- Shrimant Shamrao Suryavanshi v. Pralhad Bhairoba Suryavanshi, the Limitation Act takes away the plaintiff’s remedy to enforce his rights by bringing an action in a court but it does not restrict the defendant to put forward his defense though such defense is barred by limitation and is unenforceable in the Court.
- Craft Centre v. Koncherry Coir Factories in this case it was laid down that it is the duty of the plaintiff to convince the Court that his suit is within the time frame. If not then plaintiff has to prove it. The Court further held that, provision of Section 3 is absolute and mandatory and if a suit is time barred by the court is under a duty to dismiss the suit even at the appellate stage though the issue of limitation may not have been raised.
- State of Kerala v. K. T. Shaduli Yussuff, in this case the court held that whether or not there is sufficient cause for Condonation of delay it is a question of fact dependent upon the circumstances of a particular case.