Supreme Court Emphasizes “Reasonable Time” for Appeals in the Absence of Prescribed Limitation Period

Limitation time law law insider

LI Network

Published on: December 18, 2023 at 13:30 IST

The Supreme Court has ruled that when no specific limitation period is prescribed for filing an appeal, it must be submitted within a “reasonable time,” determined based on the individual facts of each case.

The bench, comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Karol, clarified that no rigid formula can be established for “reasonable time” due to its nature, but it should be assessed according to the circumstances of each case.

The case involved M/S North Eastern Chemicals Industries (P) Ltd., which supplied goods to M/S Ashok Paper Mill (Assam) Ltd. Despite the absence of a specified limitation period, the Supreme Court emphasized that a court should consider factors such as the parties’ conduct, nature of the proceeding, length of delay, and potential prejudice when assessing the reasonableness of the time taken to file an appeal.

The court relied on previous judgments, including Ajaib Singh v. Sirhind Coop. Marketing-cum-Processing Service Society Ltd. (1999) and Purohit & Co. v. Khatoonbee (2017), which cautioned against imposing specific limitation periods when the legislature has refrained from doing so.

The judgment affirmed that parties raising a delay plea without a specified limitation bear the burden of demonstrating how the delay would cause additional prejudice or loss.

In this case, the Supreme Court held that the appeal filed by M/S North Eastern Chemicals Industries (P) Ltd. from an order of the Commissioner of Payments was maintainable, as neither the general nor the specific statute provided a time frame for filing the appeal.

The ruling highlighted that while urgency may be absent in the absence of explicit limitation provisions, parties are not allowed to litigate decades later, and shorter delays would not necessarily attract delay and laches.

Also Read: The Limitation Period for Major Appeals

Related Post