Recently, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment in the matter of Prakash Corporates v Dee Vee Projects Limited dated 14 February 2022 held that Suo Motu Limitation Extension Orders passed by the Supreme Court of India are applicable to the filing of written statements in Commercial Courts and set aside the orders passed by High Court of Chhattisgarh dated 9 July 2021 and Commercial Court (District Level) Nava Ripur, Chhattisgarh dated 22 June 2021.


The case in discussion pertains to the monetary liabilities arising from and under the sub-contracts awarded to the Prakash Corporates by Dee Vee Projects Limited. 

The Prakash Corporates had approached NCLT Cuttack Bench on 11 September 2020 seeking initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process against the Dee Vee Projects Ltd on the ground that the Dee Vee Projects Ltd had failed to make payment of its unpaid operational debt. On 21 December 2020 the Dee Vee Projects Ltd instituted suit against the Prakash Corporates- before the Commercial Court Chhattisgarh for recovery of certain sums along with interest, allegedly being the excess payment made to the Prakash Corporates. The counsel for the Prakash Corporates prayed to grant an adjournment for submission of written statement on the ground that Hon'ble Apex Court in Suo Moto case has extended the limitation which was vehemently opposed by the counsel for the Dee Vee Projects Ltd on the ground that more than 120 days has expired since the service of summons.

The Commercial Court held that the Prakash Corporates had forfeited its right to file the written statement.  Prakash Corporates dated preferred a Writ Petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India before the High Court of Chhattisgarh which upheld the order passed by the Commercial Court dates 22 June 2021.

The Prakash Corporates had questioned the orders so passed by the Commercial court dated 22 June 2021 and  High Court Order dated 9 July 2021 on various grounds, including those with reference to the orders passed by the Apex Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition No.3 of 2020, for extension of the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under any special law, in view of the challenges faced by the country and difficulties of the litigants due to COVID-19 Pandemic.


The principal question calling for determination in this matter was as to whether the opportunity of filing written statement in the subject suit had rightly been declined or the Prakash Corporates could be extended further relaxation in view of the orders passed and issued in the wake of COVID-19.?


The Supreme Court answered to this question in affirmative. The Supreme Court observed that the alarming scenario due to the second wave of pandemic was indeed taken note of by the High Court of Chhattisgarh; and that High Court of Chhattisgarh issued the above referred administrative order dated 5 April 2021for curtailed functioning of the High Court as also the subordinate Courts. The Trial Court dealing with the subject suit was already under containment measures; and could not have functioned normally.

The orders passed by the Supreme Court on 23.03.2020, 06.05.2020, 10.07.2020, 27.04.2021 and 23.09.2021 in SMWP No. 3 of 2020 left nothing to doubt that special and extraordinary measures were provided by the Supreme Court for advancing the cause of justice in the wake of challenges thrown by the pandemic; and their applicability cannot be denied in relation to the period prescribed for filing the written statement. The Supreme Court observed as follows

"It would be unrealistic and illogical to assume that while this Court had provided for exclusion of period for institution of the suit and therefore, a suit otherwise filed beyond limitation (if the limitation had expired between 15.03.2020 to 02.10.2021) could still be filed within 90 days from 03.10.2021 but the period for filing written statement, if expired during that period, must operate against the defendant."

The Supreme Court held that the concept of limitation not coming to an end on a day when the Court was closed, or was deemed to be closed, was precisely contained in Section 4 of the Limitation Act, 1963. It is thus beyond cavil that if the prescribed period for any suit/appeal/application expires on day when the Court is considered 'closed', such proceedings may be instituted on the re-opening day.


In view of the orders passed by the Supreme Court in SMWP No. 3 of 2020, the bench had no hesitation in holding that the time limit for filing the written statement by the Prakash Corporates in the subject suit did not come to an end on 06.05.2021 and allowed the written statement to be field by the Prakash Corporates.

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