On July 10th, 2020, SC has extended the limitation period for filing of cases under Sec. 29A and 23(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 taking into account the difficulty faced by lawyers and litigants by the lockdown.
Earlier under section 29A of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, there was no limitation period, but time was fixed to do certain acts. Now, there is an extension of time limit for passing arbitral award under sec. 29A of the said act.
Similarly, under Sec. 23(4) of the said act provided 6 months for the completion of the statement of claim and defense and now the given time frame has been extended under the said section.
In Addition to this in section 12 of the Commercial Courts Act, a certain time was prescribed for completing the process of compulsory pre-litigation, mediation, and settlement but according to SC direction, this time frame would be extended from time to time as the lockdown gets lifted plus 45 days thereafter.
The bench also allowed the use of electronic means such as e-mail, messenger service (like WhatsApp) for service of notice. Due to the nationwide lockdown, it has become difficult to go to Post Office to post the notice, therefore the SC allowed sending of notices through messaging services, WhatsApp, telegram, Signal, etc.
The court did not extend the validity of cheque as such period is not mentioned in any statues but RBI has prescribed it under sec. 35A of Banking and Regulation Act. Therefore, the court did not interfere with the period prescribed by the RBI since the entire banking system works on the said period.