NEW DELHI: In a major step amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Supreme Court on Monday said the limitation period for filing appeals against High Court orders or any tribunal in the top court will stand extended possibly indefinitely, and this would not render any appeal time-barred in a situation of shutdown in many areas in the country.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant said, "We are exercising this power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declare that this order is a binding order within the meaning of Article 141 on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities. This order may be brought to the notice of all High Courts for being communicated to all subordinate Courts/Tribunals within their respective jurisdiction."
The apex court also issued a notice to all the Registrars General of the High Courts, returnable in four weeks. The court took suo moto cognisance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of Covid-19 and resultant difficulties that may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/applications/suits/appeals/all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws (both central and/or state).
The top court said to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective courts/tribunals across the country, including the Supreme Court. "It is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended with effect from March 15, 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings", said the apex court in its order.
In the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic, the apex court has already decided to go virtual, as hearing on urgent matters would be conducted through video conferencing. "On matters being listed for hearing on the causelist along with time, a link will be sent to the email of advocate-on-record and the link will be used only for video conference of that particular case at that particular time", said Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association in a statement.