Important Judgments on Limitation Act 1963

Important Judgments on Limitation Act 1963

Important Judgments on Limitation Act 1963

Section 3 & Section 5 of Limitation Act.

  • Policies At Lloyd’s v. Butler (1949) 2 All ER 226- Limitation Act Section 3.

Facts of the case- A motorcar belonging to RB Policies (Plaintiff) had stolen by some unknown persons on June, 1940. In January, 1947, they found the car in possession of Defendant. During the previous 6 years car had been passed through several intermediate purchases before being passed to the Defendant. Now, Plaintiff sued the Defendant for wrongful detention of car.

Issue- i) At what the cause of action is said to accrue? ii) Whether Plaintiff’s action is barred under Limitation Act, 1939.

Observations: Court observed that if a person is not traceable, it does not mean that he is not in existence and cannot be sued. The cause of action accrued to the Plaintiff against the thieves as soon as the motorcar was stolen. No cause of action will lie against them after six years. Limitation Act is based on public policy that there should be an end to litigation. It is unfair to allow dormant claims handing over defendants for an indefinite period and they should be protected from stale demands. The principle is that those who sleep on their claims should not be assisted by the courts in recovery of their property.

Decision- Plaintiff’s action barred by limitation Act after expiry of 6 years from the date of accrual of original cause of action.

  • Union of India v. West Coast Paper Mills Ltd. AIR 2004 SC 1596- Section 3, Art.58 and 113 of the Limitation Act.

Facts of the case- Respondents were transporting goods through Railways (Appellant-respondent). In Feb, 1964, freight rates were increased sharply. Challenging the unreasonable levy of Respondent approach Railway Rate Tribunal. Tribunal by a judgement dated 18.04.1966 declared the said levy unjust, subsequent to which appellants filed an application for grant of special leave before SC. Pending decision Court passed a limited interim order. Later respondents filed Two suits on Dec, 1972 and April,1974 for recovery of the excess amount of freight illegally realized by appellant.

Issue- Whether period during which the matter was pending before Appellate Court would include or excluded in computing the period of limitation.

Observations: Appellant placed reliance on decision of court in PK Kutty Anuja Raja v S/o Kerela (1996) where it was held that once the limitation period starts running, it runs its full course until it is interrupted by an order of the court. The pendency of the appeal does not amount to suspend the operation of running of limitation unless the operation of judgement is suspended by this court. It was contended that said suits were barred by limitation, as the cause of action for filing the same arose immediately after the judgement was passed by the Tribunal on 8.4.1966 and thus in terms of Art.58 they were require to be filed within a period of Three years from the said date (when right to sue first accrued) as despite the fact that SLP was preferred there against, no stay had been granted. Apex Court observed that in KP Kutty case court failed to take into consideration that once an appeal is filed before this Court and the same is entertained the judgement of the HC or the Tribunal is in jeopardy. The subject- matter of dispute unless determined by the last Court cannot be said to have attained finality and grant of stay of operation of the judgement may not be of much relevance once this court grants SLP and decides to hear the matter on merit.

Decision- Ratio of PK Kutty case overruled, the period of limitation would begin to run from date of passing the appellate decree and not from date of passing of Original decree.

  • Punjab National Bank v. Surendra Prasad Sinha, AIR 1992 SC 1815- Limitation Act Section 3.

Issue- Whether Bank is entitled to appropriate the debt due even when debt becomes time-barred.

Decision- The appellant bank did not act in violation of any law, in terms of the contract the bank is entitled to appropriate the debt due out of security (FDR) in its custody.

  • Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantnag vs. Katiji, AIR 1987 SC 1353- Limitation Act Section 5 “Sufficient Cause”

Facts of the case- In this case Court considered the question of the limitation in an appeal preferred by the State arising out of a decision HC enhancing compensation in respect of acquisition of lands for public purpose and rejecting an application for condonation of delay.

Issue- i) What approach courts should adopt while dealing with application for condonation of delay. ii) Whether same standard of ‘Sufficient cause’ test be applied to all litigants regardless of their personality including the State.

Decision- Delay was accordingly condoned, the order was set aside.

  • State of Nagaland vs. Lipok AO (2005) 3 SCC 752- Section 5.

Facts of the case- In an incident of shoot-out and death, a judgment of acquittal was passed Addl. Dy Commissioner. As there was delay in making the application for grant of leave, application for condonation of delay was filed but rejected by Guwahati HC observing that merely that in-spite of instructions appeal could not be filed and that records were missing was not a valid ground.

Issue- Correctness of the judgement rendered by Guwahati HC, Kohima.

Decision- In view of the factual background, and legal principles, delay of 57 days condoned & HC order set aside.

SECTION.12, 17-19, 21 of Limitation Act.

  • The Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P v. M/s Madan Lal das & Sons Bareilly, AIR 1977 SC 523- Section 12 “Time Requisite”.

Facts of the case- An appeal filed by the respondent against an order of the Sales Tax Officer was disposed off by the Additional Commissioner, Sales Tax, Bareilly. A copy of the appellate order was served to the respondent. The respondent lost the copy and applied to obtain another copy. After receiving the copy, he filed for revision before the judge, more than a year after the judgement. S 10 of the UP Sales Tax Act prescribes the period of limitation as one year from date of service of the order, but on proof of sufficient cause, the revising authority may entertain an application within a further period of six months. The respondent relied on s 12(2) of the Limitation Act, and said he was entitled to exclude the time spent in obtaining a copy of the appellate order while computing period of limitation.

Issue- Can the time taken by the respondent in obtaining another copy of the order be excluded while computing limitation period, when one copy had already been served upon him?

Observations: Section 12 (2) of Limitation Act shall apply for determining any period of limitation for any purpose prescribed by any local or special law insofar as they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law. The UP Sales Tax Act nowhere expressly bars the application of Section 12 (2), and thus, it shall apply in the following case. The respondent was not required to file the copy of the order with the revision petition. But this cannot be a ground for non-application of Section 12(2), as nowhere does the section say that the period for obtaining the copy will be excluded only if such a copy is required to be filed along with the revision petition.

It is not permissible to insert such a proviso in the section when the legislature has not inserted it. Also, the respondent would not have been in a position to decide whether to file for revision or not and if so, on what grounds, without a copy of the order. A copy of the order was served upon the respondent, and it was contended by the petitioner that filing for another copy, as such, was not necessary. It is found that the copy served upon the respondent was lost by him, which necessitated the filing for another copy.

Decision- Thus it was held that the high court was correct in its order in excluding the time period for obtaining another copy of the order from the computation of the period of limitation.

  • State of U.P v. Maharaj Narain, AIR 1968 SC 960- Section 12(2) of Limitation Act.

Facts of the case-The respondents were tried for various offences. The Sessions judge acquitted them. The state went up in appeal against the order of the acquittal. This appeal was dismissed as being barred by application of limitation, as the period of limitation for an appeal from an order from an order of acquittal is three months from the date of the order.

The appellants (State) appealed against the correctness of the order to the Supreme Court. The appellants contended that the appeal was within time as the ‘time requisite’ for obtaining a copy of the order is excluded from the period of limitation. The appellants obtained three copies of the order obtained against, and filed that copy of the order with the memorandum of appeal which took the maximum time for its preparation. The high court of Allahabad had ruled in favour of the respondents.


Observations: The expression time requisite cannot be understood to be the time absolutely necessary for obtaining the copy of the order. Section 12 (2) permits the appellant to deduct the time taken for obtaining a copy of the order from the limitation time in filing the appeal, but lays no obligation on the appellant to be prompt in his application for a copy of the order. There is no justification for restricting the scope of the provision. If the appellate courts are required to find out in every appeal filed before them the minimum time required for obtaining a copy of the order appealed from, it would be unworkable.

This would create a great deal of confusion and enquiries into the alleged delay not of the copies provided with the memorandum of appeal, but of other copies which the appellant might have got and used for other purposes with which the court has nothing to do. ‘Time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree’ mean the time beyond the party’s control occupied in obtaining the copy which is filed with the memorandum of appeal and not an ideal lesser period which might have been occupied if the application for the copy had been filed on some other date.

Decision- The Supreme Court thus excluded the whole period as time requisite for obtaining a copy of the order under Section 12(2) and held the appeal within time.

  • Sampuran Singh vs. Niranjan Kaur (smt.) AIR 1999 SC 1047- Section 18 of Limitation Act – Effect of acknowledgement.

Facts of the case- The appellants purchased the suit property in the year 1959 from the original mortgagor, by registered sale deed. Whereas on 11-1-1960 the original mortgagee sold his right by a registered deed to the respondents, who acknowledged the existence of mortgage in question. In 1980, appellants filed the present suit for possession by way of redemption of the suit land as against respondents. The appellants contended that since there is acknowledgement by mortgage on 11-1-1960, a fresh limitation starts from this date, hence, the suit is within limitation.

Issue- Whether the suit for redemption is barred by time?

Observations: A valid oral mortgage comes into existence on the very day of its execution. So the suit is time barred. Under sec.80, if the limitation has already expired, it would not revive. It is only during subsistence of a period of limitation such document is executed that the limitation would be revived afresh from the date of the acknowledgement. In the present case, there is neither any deed nor document of mortgage. Mortgage could be redeemed at any time within 60 years from the date of mortgage.

Decision- Period of Limitation would start from the very date the valid mortgage is said to have been executed and hence the period of limitation of 60 years would start from the very date of oral mortgage i.e March 1893.

Article 113 & Article 137 of C.P.C

  • State of Punjab vs. Gurdev Singh (1991) 4 SCC 1- Article 113 of C.P.C

Facts of the case-The Plaintiff’s services were terminated for unauthorised absence without an enquiry. He instituted the suit for declaration that the termination order was against the principles of natural justice, terms and conditions of employment. The trial court dismissed the suit on limitation. But on appeal additional District Judge decreed the suit and held that no limitation is prescribed for challenging an illegal order. Since the order of termination is bad, the suit is not barred by limitation, HC agreed with it.

Issue- Whether suit for such relief is not governed by any provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963?

Observations: The Statute of limitation was intended to provide a time limit for all suits conceivable. Section 3 of the Limitation Act provides that a suit, appeal or application instituted after the prescribed “period of limitation” must subject to the provisions of Sections 4 to 24 be dismissed although limitation has not been set up as a defence. If the suit is not covered by any of the specific articles prescribing a period of limitation, it must fall within the residuary article.A.113 is a residuary article for cases not covered by any other provisions in the act. It prescribes a period of 3 years when the right to sue accrues. The Words “right to sue” ordinarily mean the right to seek relief by means of legal proceedings.

Decision- The aggrieved party must approach the court within the prescribed period of limitation. If the statutory time expires the court cannot give the declaration sought for. So the SC set aside the judgment and decree of the High Court.

  • Ajaib Singh v. Sirhind Co-operative Marketing-cum- Processing Service Society Ltd., AIR 1996 SC 1351- Article 137 of C.P.C

Facts of the case- The services of the appellant workman were terminated by the respondent management without compliance of the mandatory provisions of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947. The Labour court directed restatement of the workman. The Single Judge of the HC held that no relief to the workman as filed a case after a prolonged delay, division bench also upheld it.

Issue- Whether Limitation Act, 1963 will apply to Industrial Dispute Act, 1947?

Observations: It is not the function of the court to prescribe the limitation where the legislature in its wisdom had thought it fit not to prescribe any period. The Courts admittedly interpret the law and do not make laws. Personal views of the judges presiding over the court cannot be stretched to authorize them to interpret law in such a manner which would amount to legislation intentionally left over by the legislature.

Decision- The provisions of Articles 137 of the schedule to the Limitation Act, 1963 are not applicable to the proceedings under the Industrial Dispute Act and that the relief under it cannot be denied to the workman merely on the ground of delay.

DISCLAIMER: The above judgments are posted for informational purpose ONLY. Printouts from this website are not admissible citation in the Court of Law. For a court admissible copy contacts your advocate.


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Bhupendra Sharma

"Bhupendra Sharma is a practicing lawyer at Rajasthan High Court who completed his graduation from the University of Rajasthan. He has pursued his LLM from Acharya Nagarjuna University. He is also a degree holder in Master of Education and Master of Business Administration."