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When Does The Clock Of Limitation Is Start Ticking For Suits?

When does the clock of limitation is start ticking for Suits, Application and Appeals under Section 3 of the Limitation Act?

The Laws Of Limitation Prescription Are Based Upon Two Maxims:
  1. "vigilantibus non dormientibus Jura subveniunt" , which means that the law will aids the diligent and not those who sleep upon it.
  2. "Interest Reipublicae Ut Sit Finis Litium", which means that it is in the interest of the state that there should be an end to a litigation.
Object of the Act:
The Limitation Act, 1963 prescribes different periods of limitation for filing a suit, appeals or applications in order to fulfill the above mentioned maxims. Section 3 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is one of the dimensions of Limitation Act, which deals with the period of limitation.

Bar of limitation under Section 3
Section 3 describes the 'Bar of Limitation' and it is not an independent Section but it is subject to Section 4 to 24 of the said Act.

"Every suit instituted, appeal preferred and application made after the prescribed period shall be dismissed, although limitation has not been set up as a defence"

Section 3 uses the word 'shall' which means that the code is under an obligation to dismiss the suit, appeal or application that has been fine beyond the period of limitation. The period of limitation can either be raised by the defendant against the plaintiff or the Court can suo motu take note of question of limitation. The plea of limitation cannot be raised against the defendant.

Section 3(2) provides that the suit is said to be instituted on;

  • in ordinary case - when you present your suit to the proper officer.
  • in case of pauper or indigent person - when he makes an application in the court to take permission to continue his suit as a pauper.
  • in case of claim against a company - date on which first-time claimant submits their claim to the official liquidator.
  • in case of set-off - institute when it is pleaded. Doctrine of Relating back will apply.
  • in case of Counter-claim - on the same date when Counter-claim is made.
Purpose of Section 3
Purpose of Section 3 is not to create a right where there is none, nor to extinguish a right where they is one, but to interpose a bar after a certain period to enforce an existing right - Sir Richard Couch.

Limitation Bars The Remedy But Doesn't Extinguish The Right
The plea of limitation can be raised at any stage of the suit against the plaintiff. Section 3 bars the remedy but doesn't extinguish the right. However, certain exception and exclusions are provided under Section 4 to 24 such as condonation of delay(Section 5), legal disability (Section 6) etc., in which court allows the plaintiff to file a suit even after the expiry of a period of limitation but , Section 27 is an exception to the aforesaid rule. The question of Limitation 'once decided' can not be re-opened at a later stage of the same proceeding. It cannot be re-agitated in any subsequent proceedings.

Burden Of Proof As To Period Of Limitation
The onus of proof is upon the plaintiff and he must show either the suit is prima facie within time or that be reason of minority, concealed fraud, acknowledgement etc., the period of limitation has not really expired and that he is still within time. The onus is then shifted to the defendant to prove that it is not instituted within the period of limitation.

Object behind the Bar of Limitation (SECTION 3)
After certain time the Cause of Action becomes Stale.

With the passage of time, evidence may get lost/destroyed , the freshness of the memory of witnesses may get affected and chances of manipulation of evidences are there.

The opposite party will have to live under and apprehension that a suit, appeal or application may be filed against him, which would thus affect h is mental health if not file within a reasonable time.

It is also a matter of public policy that legal relations should brought to certainty. The Doctrine of Latches works in such cases that there should not be an inordinate delay in bringing the matter to the Court and delay defeats equity.

Limitation period in Criminal Cases
The Limitation Act, 1963 is a civil law and has no application in criminal law but it provides period of limitation within which appeals and revision application should be filed (Article 114, 115 & 131 of Limitation Act, 1963).

Case Laws:
Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing v. State of Bombay
, it was held that the statute of limitations only bars the remedy but does not extinguish the debt.

It was held in Craft Centre v. Koncherry Coir Factories, it is the duty of the plaintiff to convince the Court that his suit is within time. If it is out of time and the plaintiff relies on any acknowledgments in order to save the limitations then he has to plead them or prove, if denied. The Court further held that, provision of Section 3 is absolute and mandatory and if a suit is barred by the time 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.

In Mukund Ltd v. Mumbai International Airport, it was ruled that it is explicitly clear that when a suit is barred by limitation, the Court is precluded from proceeding on the merits of the contentions and in fact is obliged to dismiss the suit.

Chandoo v. Murlidhar, it was held that an agreement to extend the period of limitation would come within the provisions of Section 23, Indian Contract Act, as tending to defeat the provisions of the Limitation Act and would, therefore, be void.

Cognizance for extension of limitation, In re (3JB) 23-March-2020
SC under Article-142 r/w Article 141 take suo motu cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country due to Covid-19 and resultant difficulties that may be faced by the litigants across the country in filing their petitions, applications, appeals, suits and all other proceedings within the period of limitation.

Period of limitation in all such cases proceedings irrespective the limitation prescribed under the General or Special Law whether condonable or nor- shall be extended w.e.f 15- March-2020 till further orders. And, the same order was restored by the SC in Cognizance for extension of limitation, In re, 10- Jan-2022.

Law doesn't allow you to sleep over your rights thus it bars the suits, appeals or application filed outside the limitation time prescribed (Section 3 of the Limitation Act, 1963) in order to fulfill the Principle of Natural Justice and thus, for this reasons it can be said that this provision of the Statute or the Statute of limitation has been rightly termed as Statue of depose peace and justice.

The law of limitation prescribes the time within which a person can enforce his legal right and in order to keeps a check on the cases so that they are not dragged for over a long time.

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