COVID LIMITATION EXTENDED BY SUPREME COURT

Clipped from: https://www.taxmanagementindia.com/visitor/detail_article.asp?ArticleID=10197

Supreme Court has once again decided on extended limitation owing to Covid guidelines in 2022. The Order dated 23.03.2020 was passed in view of the extraordinary health crisis. On 08.03.2021, the order dated 23.03.2020 was brought to an end, permitting the relaxation of period of limitation between 15.03.2020 and 14.03.2021. While doing so, it was made clear that the period of limitation would start from 15.03.2021. As the said order dated 08.03.2021 was only a one-time measure, in view of the pandemic, apex court was inclined to modify the conditions contained in the order dated 08.03.2021. The period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed  under Section 23(4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe periods(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the Court of Tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings. Vide order dated 10.01.2022 in Misc. No. 21 and 29 of 2022, Supreme Court has ordered to revive limitation extension order in view of rising Covid cases. Accordingly, order dated 23.03.2020 is restored and it has been directed that in continuation of earlier order dated 08.03.202127.04.2021 and 23.09.2021. the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 shall be excluded for the purpose of limitation as may be prescribed under any law – general laws or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi judicial proceedings [IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION – 2022 (1) TMI 385 – SC ORDER]

CBIC had earlier interpreted Supreme Court Judgment vide Circular No. 157/13/2021-GST dated 20.07.2021 clarifying applicability of Covid Limitation period. The Circular clarified as follows:

  • Various compliances under GST law can be categorized under three categories :
  1. Proceedings that need to be initiated or compliances that need to be done by the taxpayers
  2. Quasi-Judicial proceedings by tax authorities
  3. Appeals by taxpayers/ tax authorities against any quasi- judicial order
  • The extension of timelines granted by Supreme Court vide its Order dated 27.04.2021 is applicable in respect of any appeal which is required to be filed before Joint/ Additional Commissioner (Appeals), Commissioner (Appeals), Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling, Tribunal and various courts against any quasi-judicial order or where proceeding for revision or rectification of any order is required to be undertaken, and is not applicable to any other proceedings under GST Laws.
  • Apex court ruling dated 27.04.2021 shall be applicable to appeals but will not effect or not be applicable to:
    • Scrutiny of returns
    • Issuance of summons
    • Issuance of show cause notices or search proceedings
    • Enquiry or investigation
    • Consequential arrests
    • Conducting hearings
    • Disposal of proceedings
  •  The grant of extension is only with respect to judicial / Quasi judicial proceedings in the form of appeals / suits / petition etc and not to all actions or proceedings under the GST law.

Covid impacted Limitation Period

IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION [2021 (11) TMI 387 – SC ORDER], apex court has issued four directions in present order. Firstly, period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall stand excluded for computing period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding and balance period, if any, shall become available w.e.f. 03.10.2021. Secondly, if limitation period has expired between 15.03.2020 to 02.10.2021, then all persons would have 90 days period notwithstanding actual balance period of limitation remaining and if actual balance of limitation remaining on 013.10.2021 is higher than 90 days, then longer period would be available . Thirdly, in computing period under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 also stand excluded. Fourthly, Government of India shall amend guidelines for containment zones to, inter alia, allow regulated movement for filing time bound application for legal purpose.

The following are the relevant extracts:

“(I)      In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding, the period from 15-3-2020 till 2-10-2021 shall stand excluded. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 15-3-2021, if any, shall become available with effect from 3-10-2021.

(II)       In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15-3-2020 till 2-10-2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 3-10-2021. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 3-10-2021, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.

(III)     The period from 15-3-2020 till 2-10-2021 shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23(4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the Court or Trinunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.

(IV)     The Government of India shall amend the guidelines for containment zones, to State.

“Regulated movement will be allowed for medical emergencies, provision of essential goods and services, and other necessary functions, such as, time bound applications, including for legal purposes, and educational and job-related requirements.”

Supreme Court Order dated 10.01.2022 [IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION – 2022 (1) TMI 385 – SC ORDER]

The Apex Court has further extended the limitation from 15.03.2022 till 28.02.2022. The court order that the order dated 23.03.2020 is restored and in continuation  of the subsequent orders dated 08.03.202127.04.2021 and 23.09.2021, it is directed that the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 shall stand excluded for the purposes of limitation as may be prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi judicial proceedings.

The Apex Court has further extended the limitation from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022. Supreme Court has ordered to revive limitation extension order in view of rising Covid cases. Accordingly, Order dated 23.03.2020 is restored and it has been directed that in continuation of earlier orders dated 08.03.202127.04.2021 and 23.09.2021, the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 shall be excluded for the purpose of limitation as may be prescribed under any law – general laws or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi judicial proceedings.

The court ordered that:

  1.  The order dated 23.03.2020 is restored and in continuation  of the subsequent orders dated 08.03.202127.04.2021 and 23.09.2021, it is directed that the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 shall stand excluded for the purposes of limitation as may be prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings.
  2. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 03.10.2021, if any, shall become available with effect from 01.03.2022.
  3. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 01.03.2022. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 01.03.2022 is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
  4. It has been further clarified that the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.

Chronology of Covid Limitation Developments

Following is the chronology of events happening in Covid limitation

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