COMPUTATION OF PERIOD OF LIMITATION
Sections 12 to 18 of the Limitation Act deals with the computation of periods of limitation. What days or periods have to be excluded from calculation of period of limitation is provided in these sections.
The rules as to computation of period of limitation laid down in the Act are not intended by the legislature to apply only to periods of limitations prescribed by the Schedule, but apply also to periods of limitation provided for by other enactments.
Section 12. Exclusion of time in legal proceedings
(1) In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal or application, the day from which such period is to be reckoned, shall be excluded.
(2) In computing the period of limitation for an appeal or an application for leave to appeal or for revision or for review of a judgement, the day on which judgement complained of was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed shall be excluded.
(3) Where a decree or order is appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed, or where an application is made for leave to appeal from a decree or order, the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the judgement shall also be excluded.
(4) In computing the period of limitation for an application to set aside an award, the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the award shall be excluded.
Explanation: In computing under this section the time requisite for obtaining a copy of a decree or an order, any time taken by the court to prepare the decree or order before an application for a copy thereof is made shall not be excluded.
This section applies to suits, appeals and applications. A decree holder does not have the benefit of exclusion of the time taken for obtaining the certified copy of decree; it is the appellant who have such benefit.
In computing the period of limitation for any suit, the day from which the period begins to run shall be excluded. If a pronote is executed on 5th June 2004, the last day for filing the suit will be 5th June, 2007, and not 4th June, 2007. Therefore, according to Sec. 12(1), when time is to be computed from the date of cause of action, the day on which such cause of action arises is to be excluded.
In computing the period of limitation for an appeal, application for revision/review for leave to appeal, the following periods shall be excluded:-
(i) The day on which the period begins to run,
(ii) The day on which the judgment was pronounced,
(iii) The time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order
(iv) The time requisite for obtaining a copy of judgment.
The period of limitation for execution of decree under Art. 136 of Limitation Act runs from the date of the decree and not from the date when the decree is actually drawn up and signed by the Judge (W.B. Essential Commodities Supply Corporation v. Swadesh Agro Farming & Storage Ltd. AIR 1999 SC 3421).
However, an application should have been made for certified copies of decree, judgment, etc. to avail of the benefit under Sec. 12. For applicability of Sec. 12 it is not at all necessary that the filing of the certified copies should be mandatory. Thus, even if there are no rules requiring such copies to be filed along with the appeal, the time taken in obtaining of such copies will be excluded.
In cases where the period of limitation for filing the appeal is a very short one, the appellant ought to be very diligent in applying for copies of the judgment and decree. The words ‘requisite’ and ‘obtaining’ mean that some definite step should be taken by the appellant or the applicant himself towards the attainment of the copy. Any failure in reasonable diligence which produces unnecessary delay at one or more of the several stages in obtaining a copy of the decree, etc. will disentitle the appellant to claim the whole of the time actually spent in obtaining the copy. The time unnecessarily occupied is not time ‘requisite’ within the meaning of Sec. 12).
No time limit is fixed for making an application for the certified copy. But such application should have been made within the period of limitation prescribed for the appeal, etc. (for which such copies are required) if the appellant is to avail the benefit of Sec. 12.
The time in between the date when the copy was ready and the date when the delivery was taken cannot be excluded under Sec. 12, because under Sub-sec. (2) what is material is not the date of delivery of copy but the date when the copy was ready for delivery. The date on which it was ready is important, not the date of collection by the counsel.
STATE OF U.P. VS. MAHARAJ NARAIN (AIR 1968 SC 960) – In this case, the court examined the true scope of the expression ‘time requisite for copy’ under Sec.12(2). The memorandum of appeal was filed on March 29, 1963. The order appealed from had been delivered on Nov. 10, 1962. The appeal was within time, excluding the time requisite in obtaining certified copy viz. from Nov. 15 to Jan. 3.
The Supreme Court observed: “The expression ‘time requisite’ under Sec. 12(2) cannot be understood as the time absolutely necessary for obtaining the copy or the minimum time within which a copy could be obtained. The appellant is not required to apply for a copy immediately after the order is pronounced, he could have applied it at the end of limitation period. That section lays no obligation on the appellant to be prompt and diligent in his application for a copy of the order. A plain reading of Sec. 12(2) shows that in computing the limitation period prescribed for an appeal, the day on which the judgment or order complained was pronounced and the time taken by the court to make available the copy applied for, have to be excluded . There is no justification for restricting the scope of that provision”.
In P. Thirumala vs. Anavemareddy (AIR 1934 Mad. 306), the court laid down that in Sec. 12 the words ‘time requisite for copy’ 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 copy had been filed on some other date. In this case, the appellant at first applied for a copy of the decree and then before the expiry of the period of limitation applied again for another copy of the decree. He filed the appeal with the second copy. The court was of the view that the second application being a reasonable and proper one, as it was made within the period of limitation, the appellant was entitled to deduct the time taken in preparing a copy of the decree upon such application.
The Supreme Court further observed: If the courts are required to find out in every appeal filed the minimum time required for obtaining copy of the order appealed from, it would be unworkable. In that event every time an appeal is filed, the court not only will have to see whether the appeal is in time on the basis of information available from the copy of the order filed along with appeal, but it must go further and hold an enquiry whether the other copy had been made available to the appellant and if so, what was the time taken by the court to make available that copy. This would lead to a great deal of confusion and enquiries into the alleged laches or delays in respect not of copies produced with the appeal but about other copies which he might have got and used for other purposes with which the court has nothing to do.
The Supreme Court, thus, held that the time requisite for obtaining a copy is to be ascertained from the copy actually filed along with the appeal. The obtaining of ‘other copies’ by the appellant is not decisive of the matter under Sec. 12(2).
There is nothing in the language of Sec. 12(2) to justify the inference that the time spent for obtaining copy of the order sought to be revised can be excluded only if such a copy is required to be filed along with the revision application. In a number of cases the court considered the application of Sec. 12 (2) of the Limitation Act because it helps in giving right judicial decisions (Additional Collector of Customs, Calcutta v. M/s Best & Co. AIR 1966 SC 1713).
GOBIND RAM AND OTHERS V. HARNAM DASS (AIR 1981 DEL. 184) – In this case, the short question is whether appeal is barred by time. Appeal was filed u/s 39 of DRC, 1958 (which provide 60 days from the date of the order of the Tribunal for appeal in this Court). The impugned judgment and order was passed on 11th Aug. 1980. Application was made on 6th Oct. 1980 for obtaining the copy. The copying department directed the appellant to visit the agency for collection of the copy on 14th Oct. 1980. The appellant collected it on 15th Oct. 1980. And appeal was filed on 16th Oct. 1980.
The Delhi High Court observed that the appellant is entitled to exclude the time requisite for obtaining the copies of the judgment and order. The words ‘time requisite’ used in the Sec. 12 have not been defined. The question what is the time requisite in a particular case is one of fact and must be determined with reference to the facts and circumstances of that case and in the light of the rules and also the practice of the court. When there has been no mistake, inaction or want of bona fides on the part of the applicant or his counsel and there is a delay in giving copies due to the negligence or rules of the copying department, the period spend by an applicant in obtaining the certified copy should be regarded as ‘time requisite’.
Section 5 and Section 12– Sec. 5 of the Limitation Act cannot be applied in making the computation of time provided for under Sec. 12, and does not become applicable until after such computation has been made. In computing the time requisite for obtaining copies, no allowance can be made for delay caused by inability by reason of poverty, to pay the estimated cost of copies. But if the stamps are not procurable, or the office is not open to receive payment of the estimated cost, allowance may be made for the delay so caused. These and similar cause of delay may be considered under Sec. 5 after computation has been made under the other sections.