The word limitation itself says the meaning. The word limitation in its literal term means a restriction or the rule or circumstances which are limited. The law of limitation has been prescribed as the time limit which is given for different suits or appeal or application to the aggrieved person within which they can approach the court for redress or justice. The basic concept of limitation is relating to fixing or prescribing of the time period for barring legal actions. According to Section 2 (j) of the Limitation Act, 1963, ‘period of limitation’ means the period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the Schedule, and ‘prescribed period’ means the period of limitation computed in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
The Law of Limitation signifies to prevent from the last date for different legal actions which can take place against an aggrieved person and to advance the suit and seek remedy or righteous before the court. Where a suit is initiated after the bar of limitation, it will be hit by the law of limitation. The main and the fundamental aim of the law of limitation is to protect the lengthy process of penalizing a person indirectly without doing any offence. The law relating to Law of Limitation to India is the Limitation Act, 1859 and subsequently Limitation Act, 1963 which was enacted on 5th of October, 1963 and which came into force from 1st of January, 1964 for the purpose of consolidating and amending the legal principles relating to limitation of suits and other legal proceedings.
According to the provisions provided under the Act, it is the litigation which is initiated, the Appeal which is entertained and the application which are made after the specified term shall be dismissed even though the limitation is not raised as a defence. It is a suit which is initiated when the suit is instituted to any of an appropriate officer in a normal case and where the person is a pauper. In other circumstances a suit is initiated when the application for leave to file a suit as a pauper is made and where the cases relating to the allegation which is against the company that is being wound up by a court, where the applicant initially sent his assertions to the official liquidator. Where the assertion is made in a form of set off or counterclaim, it shall be deemed as a separate litigation. In the case of set off it shall also be considered to have initiated on the date on which the preceding for set off is pleaded. It can be said that in a case of additional claim a suit shall be instituted within the same date on which the counterclaim has been made. With this a request by notice of motion is made in the High Court when the application is provided to the appropriate officer of that particular Court. When a court is closed on the expiry date for filing any suit or appeal or application, it may be initiated on the reopening day of the court. An appeal or application shall be admitted by the court after the specified period if the litigant convinces to the court showing sufficient cause for the failure to prepare an appeal or application within the specified period then the court can admit his appeal or application. It is the duty of a litigant to give appropriate cause for his failure for the filling of a suit appeal or application. Beside all this, it is the act which provides that where a person who is having an authority to file any suit or to make any request for the execution of defence is a minor or insane or an idiot during the specified time of filing is to be considered. He may file a suit or application which shall be filed within the same time after his disability has come to an end, or at the time during which the specified term is to be considered he may initiate the legal actions or applications within the same term after disabilities have come to an end. If the incapacity or disability continues of that person till his death, the legal representatives can initiate the legal actions or make any application after his death within the same period. As provided under the Act, the legal disability shall not apply to any suits which are filed for the right of pre-emption. The limitation period is to be extended for a period of three years and not more.
While calculating the limitation period for any litigation, appeal or application, the date from which such period is to be reckoned, shall be deemed to be excluded. A suit which are filed for review or revision or appeal of a judgment, the date shall be calculated from the date on which the judgment is delivered and the time of request for getting copy of the decree, or order appealed from or revised or reviewed shall be excluded. The Act also provides for other computation of limitation for suits against trustee, execution of a decree, effect of fraud or mistake. The Act states acquisition of easement by prescription for the enjoyment of the use of land without interruption for twenty years.
The Limitation Act, 1963 does not affect the provisions provided under The Indian Contract Act, 1872. The Act is made effective for the reason that it bars the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the actions that are frivolous and to avoid the long proceeding of the pending actions by the complainants.
There are different reasons for the existence of statutes of limitation.
The main object of limiting any of the legal actions is to give effect to the maxim ‘interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium’ which means that if the interest of the State is required that there should be a limit to a litigation. It is also to prevent any kind of disturbance or deprivation of what may have been acquired in equity and justice or by way long enjoyment or what may have been lost by a party’s own inaction, negligence or laches. The intention in accepting the concept of limitation is that “controversies are restricted to a fixed period of time, lest they should become immortal while men are moral.”
There is a limitation to litigation which interposes the statutory bar. This statutory restriction after a certain period of time gives a status to enforce an existing right. Simply, it neither creates any right in favour of any person nor does it define or create any cause of action against the particular person but it prescribes about the remedy. These remedy can be exercised only up to a certain period of time and not subsequently. The main object of the statute of the Limitation Act, 1963 is more over a preventive kind and not to interpose a statutory bar after a certain period of time. It gives a quietus to all the suit matters to enforce an existing right.
The major purpose of the statutory of the Limitation Act, 1963 is not to destroy or infringe the rights of an aggrieved person but to serve public in a better way and to save time. This statute is basically founded on the public policy for fixing a life span for the legal action which are taken place and to seek remedy in time with the purpose of general welfare. The object of providing a legal remedy is to repair the damage which is caused by reason of legal injury.
The provisions of Limitation Act which are provided in the statute are the statute of repose, to suppress frauds and to supply deficiency of proofs which are arising from the ambiguity, obscurity or the antiquity. The presumptions proceed upon the claims which are extinguished or are ought to be extinguished whenever they are not litigated with the prescribed period of time.
The right has been measured as an equivalent with regards to making of the quick diligence to the person. It has discouraged the litigation by buying some common receptacle which has accumulated from the past times which are now unexplainable and have become inexplicable due to lapse of time. The Limitation Act is a law of repose, peace and justice which has barred the remedy after the failure of particular period of time. This is all because for the public policy and expediency without extinguishing any right in certain cases.
In the matter of State of Rajasthan v. Rikhab Chand1) it has been observed by the Rajasthan High Court that the rules of limitation are mainly intended to induce the claimant in claiming the relief and also in avoiding the unexplainable delay and latches in a suit.
Whereas, in the matter of M.P. Raghavan Nair v. State Insurance Officer2) it has been observed by the Kerala High Court that the Law of Limitation is based upon public policy mainly aiming at justice, repose and peace.
In the matter of Rajender Singh v. Santa Singh3) it was held by the Supreme Court of India that “the object of the Law of Limitation is to prevent disturbance or deprivation of what may have been acquired in equity and justice by a long enjoyment or what may have been lost by a party’s own inaction, negligence or latches.”
In the matter of B.B. & D. Mfg. Co. v. ESI Corporation4) it was observed by the Supreme Court that-
“The object of the Statutes of Limitations to compel a person to exercise his rights of action within a reasonable time as also to discourage and suppress stale, fake or fraudulent claims. While this is so, there are two aspects of the Statutes of Limitation — the one concerns with the extinguishment of the right if a claim or action is not commenced within a particular time and the other merely bars the claim without affecting the right which either remains merely as a moral obligation or can be availed of to furnish the consideration for a fresh enforceable obligation. Where a statute prescribing the limitation extinguishes the right if affects substantive right while that which purely pertains to the commencement of action without touching the right is said to be procedural.”
In Balakrishnan v. M.A. Krishnamurthy5) it was held by the Supreme Court that the Limitation Act is based upon public policy which is used for fixing a life span of a legal remedy for the purpose of general welfare. It has been pointed out that the Law of Limitation are not only meant to destroy the rights of the parties but are meant to look to the parties who do not resort the tactics but in general to seek remedy. It fixes the life span for legal injury suffered by the aggrieved person which has been enshrined in the maxim ‘interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium’ which means the Law of Limitation is for general welfare and that the period is to be put into litigation and not meant to destroy the rights of the person or parties who are seeking remedy. The idea with regards to this is that every legal remedy must be alive for a legislatively fixed period of time.
It is lex fori. Thus, it can be said that the rules of the Law of Limitation are generally prima facie with the rules of procedure and which has not created any rights in favour of any particular person nor does they define or create any cause of action. It has been simply prescribed that the remedy can be exercised only for a limited fixed period of time and subsequently.
© C.R Nanda Academy is an initiative by Adv. Chittaranjan Nanda to spread legal awareness among Indian Citizens.