Limitation Act: Citing time frame for legal proceedings

Time and tide have no mercy and binds every aspect of human culture. The judiciary and the legal system are no exceptions. So, if the grounds for filing a suit and the time to do so are prohibited, the court may not entertain it.

The statute of limitation refers to the legislation that allows courts to ban inexperienced litigants from filing lawsuits. So, the law of rules prevents a person whose right got infringed from approaching the court for redress if he does not do so within a reasonable period.

The nature of the problem determines how much time a person has to bring a lawsuit to court. In India, the Limitation Act of 1963 governs the limitation period.

Limitation Act 1963 prescribes a limitation period for suits, appeals, applications.

This “period of limitation” indicates the period laid out in the Schedule for filing suits, appeals, and applications.

A “prescribed period” refers to the period of limitation that follows the requirements of the Act.

Salient Features of the Limitation Act

According to the Law of Limitation, legal suits that may get initiated against an aggrieved person are forbidden from taking place beyond a specific time limit for pursuing the claim and seeking redressal or justice before the court.

The law of limitations will apply to any lawsuit filed after the limitation period has passed.

There are some salient features of the act:-

  • The Limitation came into force to unify and revise the legal principles about the limitation of suits and other legal procedures.
  • According to the Act’s terms, the suits, appeals and applications submitted beyond the allotted period get dismissed even if the limitation is not invoked as a defence.
  • A counterclaim lodged in a court gets viewed as a separate suit. So, a suit must get launched within the same time frame as the counterclaim.
  • The plaintiff can establish his inability to file a suit, appeal, or application within the specified time frame due to inadequate reasons. If the court is satisfied by his reasons, it may accept an appeal or petition after the deadline.
  • The Act states that a person with the authority to submit a complaint or seek the defendant’s execution who is a minor or not in the right mind during filing must get considered when both of his disabilities have ceased.
  • The Act does not apply to any applications filed for extending the limitation period. The date from which the limitation period for any lawsuit, appeal, or application is calculated is deemed to get exempted.
  • The Act allows landowners to enjoy uninterrupted land usage through an easement for twenty years.
  • The time required to file or obtain a copy of the decree or order for appeal, revising or reviewing gets excluded under the act.
  • Suits about immovable property, trusts, and endowments have a limitation period of up to 12 years.
  • Suits relating to accounts, contracts, declarations, claims relating to decrees and instruments, and lawsuits relating to moveable property can only take three years.
  • For cases of torts and miscellaneous matters and suits for which no time of limitation is stipulated elsewhere in the Schedule to the Act, a period ranging from one to three years has been imposed.
  • Before suing foreign rulers, ambassadors, and envoys, Sections 86 and 89 of the Civil Procedure Code require the Central Government’s approval.

    The Limitation Act of 1963 states that the time spent in getting the consent of the government in such cases should be omitted from the computation of the limitation period for filing such proceedings.

History of the Limitation Act

The law of limitation has evolved in phases throughout history and culminated with the Limitation Act of 1963. Before 1859, there was no statute of limitations applicable to all India, and only in 1859 was a restriction statute created that applied to all Courts.

The Limitation Act got abolished in 1871, 1877, and 1908. The Third Law Commission repealed the Limitation Act of 1908 and replaced with the Limitation Act of 1963.

The limitation act of 1908 was only applied to foreign contracts, but the 1963 act applied to contracts carried into Jammu and Kashmir or a foreign nation.

What is the objective of The Limitation Act, 1963?

According to the Limitation Act of 1963, a person has a specified amount of time to file a lawsuit. If such legislation is not implemented, it will result in never-ending litigation since a person may file a complaint for a cause of a suit that occurred many years ago.

In other words, the law of limitation seeks to preserve the protracted process of indirectly penalising a person without an offence.

The Supreme Court decided in Balakrishnan v. M.A. Krishnamurthy that the Limitation Act is based on public policy and gets utilised to fix the lifespan of a legal remedy for the sake of public benefit.

What would be the effect of death on or before the accrual of the right to sue?

The period of limitation gets computed from the time when a legal representative of the demised is capable of initiating or making such a suit or application:

If a person has a right to initiate a suit if he would have been alive dies before such right gets accrued to him or if such a right arises only after the death of a person, the period of limitation is computed from the time when the representative of the dead became competent to bring such a suit or make such an application

If a person dies before initiation of suit against him or if a right to file a suit against him gets accrued at the time of death, the limitation term begins when the plaintiff may institute the suit or apply against the dead person.

Claims to enforce pre-emption rights or suits for possession of immovable property or a hereditary position are not covered by sub-sections (1) or (2).

Barring is a Remedy, not Right.

The limitation law entailed the equitable idea that equity benefits the industrious rather than the lazy. It encourages claimants to file their claims as soon as possible.

The law of limitation prohibits the remedy only after the limitation period elapsed, but it does not invalidate a right that must be relied on in the complaint.

Even when the remedy is no longer available, the right exists in all human activities. If, as a result, a creditor whose obligation has been statute-barred has any means of realising and enforcing his claim other than via a suit, the Limitation Act does not exclude him from collecting his debt by such methods.

As a result, settling a time-barred debt outside of court is not prohibited. If a debtor decides a debt without realising that the obligation is time-barred, he cannot sue the creditor for returning the money owed to him because the debt is time-barred.

The Statute of Limitations forbids the remedy but does not abolish the right.

According to the limitation act, 1963, specific periods are explicitly excluded from the computation of the statutory period of limitation in certain circumstances.

These are the provisions:

  1. Time gets excluded in judicial processes (section 12).
  2. Excluding time when a pauper applies for leave to sue or appeal (section 13).
  3. Excluding legitimate time spent in a court without jurisdiction (section 14).
  4. Time exclusion in some additional instances (sections 15, 16 & 17).

Legal incapacity

Legal incapacity [Section 6]: The following is an explanation of limitation law as it applies to legally impaired people:

  • If a person having the right to institute a suit or make an application is a minor, mad, or imbecile at the time of the cause of suit, the period of limitation to file a claim or make an application begins when such handicap ends.
  • When another follows one legal handicap, the impairments are sequential, and the limitation period begins on termination of all legal disabilities.
  • If a legal handicap lasts until death, the limitation period begins for the legal representative (not legally incapacitated) on the date of death.
  • If a person with a handicap dies after the end of his impairment, but within the time allowed by this section, his legal agent may start the suit or make the application within the same period as he would have had he not died.

Computation of Period of Limitation

A legal proceeding’s exclusion of time –

Time exclusion in legal proceedings

The day from which the period of limitation is to begin should get excluded when computing the time limit for any suit, appeal, or application.

The time required to obtain a copy of the decree, sentence or order should get excluded while computing the period of appeal, an application for leave to appeal, revision or review of a judgement from the date on which judgement was pronounced.

The time required to obtain a judgement copy should be excluded when:

  • a decree or order is appealed to be revised or reviewed or
  • an application for leave to appeal is made to the court.

The time required for obtaining a copy of the arbitration award should get excluded while computing the period of limitation for filing an application to set aside an arbitration award.

Exclusion of time in circumstances where a pauper seeks leave to sue or appeal

When an application for leave to sue or appeal is filed as a pauper and rejected by a court, the time the applicant prosecutes the other person in good faith should be excluded.

Exclusion of period of bona fide procedure in court without jurisdiction

The period for prosecuting the defendant with due diligence in good faith should get exempted:

  • In another civil proceeding
  • In any appeal or revision
  • The proceeding related to the same subject in issue which the court rejects is due to a defect of jurisdiction or other reason of a similar type.
  • In proceedings seeking the same relief, which the court does not entertain due to defect in the jurisdiction or other similar reasons

If a new suit gets instituted with permission of the court due to the failure of the first suit because of a defect in the court’s jurisdiction under rule 23 order 1 of CPC sub-section (1) of section 14 will not apply regardless of any provisions of Order 23 of rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Time exclusion in some other instances

The time of an injunction from the day it is issued till the day it is withdrawn should be exempted while computing the period of limitation of any suit or execution of a decree stayed by that injunction.

The time required to obtain the government’s consent or any other authority to initiate a suit on serving of notice should get exempted.

Inheritance of the right to sue after death or before it accrues

The period of limitation gets computed from the time when there is a legal representative of the deceased capable of instituting such suit or making such application:

  • Whenever an individual has the privilege to incorporate a suit or submit an application if were alive or dies before the right accrues,
  • When a right to institute a claim or make an application accrues only on the death of a person
  • When the plaintiff institutes a suit or makes such an application against the deceased’s legal representative.
  • When a person dies before a right to initiate a suit or make an application against him would have accrued,
  • When a privilege to incorporate a suit or submit an application against any person accrues on the death of such person

Claims to enforce pre-emption rights or suits for possession of immovable property or a hereditary position are not covered by sub-sections (1) or (2) of this section.

Consequences of Fraud or Error

As per the limitation act, where in the event of any suit or application for which this Act prescribes a limitation period-

  1. The suit or application is founded on the defendant, respondent, or agent’s deception.
  2. Knowledge of the right or title concerning a suit or application is concealed by deceiving.
  3. The suit or application seeks remedy from the consequences of a mistake
  4. When any document required to demonstrate the plaintiff’s or applicant’s right has been fraudulently concealed from him

In such cases mentioned above, the period of limitation should not begin:-

  • Until the plaintiff or applicant discovered the fraud or mistake in a suit or in the case of a concealed document until the plaintiff or
  • The applicant first had the means of producing the concealed document or compelling its production.

The impact of written acknowledgement

The period of limitation should be computed if acceptance of liability concerning the property or right is made before the expiration period and the writing is signed by:-

  • the party against whom the property or right is claimed, or
  • Any individual through whom he received his title or liability

So, a new limitation period shall get computed when the acknowledgement is signed.

Where the document containing the acknowledgement is undated, the oral evidence of the time when it was signed may be offered; but, subject to the requirements of the Indian Evidence Act,1872, the oral evidence of its contents shall not be received.

The impact of a debt payment or interest payment on a legacy

When a person repays a debt or interest on a legacy makes a payment on account of the debt or the interest on the inheritance before the stipulated term expires, a new period of limitation gets computed from the moment payment was made.

The effect of another person’s acknowledgement or payment

The word “agent duly authorised in this behalf” in sections 18 and 19 must include a lawful guardian, committee, or manager, or an agent duly authorised by such guardian, committee, or management to sign the acknowledgement or make the payment in the case of a disabled person.

Nothing in the provisions above makes one of many joint contractors, partners, executors, or mortgagees liable only because of a written acknowledgement signed by, or payment made by, or on behalf of, any other or others of them.

In the case of a liability incurred on behalf of a Hindu undivided family by their duly authorised agent or a limited owner of the property governed by Hindu law, that liability will be valid acknowledgement or payment against a reversioner be a valid liability.

When a person incurs the liability of an undivided Hindu family who is a duly authorised family agent, then such liability is deemed to be made on behalf of the whole family.

If a new plaintiff or defendant is added or replaced

When a new plaintiff or defendant gets substituted to suit after being started, the suit gets deemed to be instituted when was made a party:

Persistent violations and torts

In the instance of a continuing breach of contract or a continuing tort, a new term of limitation begins to run at every point in time while the breach or tort, as the case may be, continues.

Compensation claims for suits that are not suitable without causing particular harm

The limitation period gets calculated from the moment a suit for compensation for an act does not give rise to a cause of suit unless some specific injury has occurred.

Computation of the time specified in the instrument

As per the limitation act 1963, all instruments must get regarded to be referring to the Gregorian calendar.


The limitation act establishes the temporal restriction for enforcing a legal right. The Limitation Act sets a check on lawsuits to avoid long time litigation.

Furthermore, the Act recognises that there may be circumstances in which persons who desire to initiate proceedings or file an appeal for a legitimate cause are unable to do so within the timeframe set forth by the Act, therefore request for the same criteria cannot be applied.

FAQs on limitation act

According to Halsbury's Laws of England, what are the Main Objects of the Law of Limitations?

The Court has noticed and stated that there are nearly three different supporting factors for the existence of statutes of limitation.

  • Those long-dormant claims contain more cruelty than justice.
  • A defendant may have misplaced evidence to refute the State's assertion.
  • Those who have noble causes to pursue should do so.

What is the purpose of the Limitation Act of 1963?

The primary goal of the LA,1963, is to set a fixed time range within which a person can bring a suit in court. If such legislation is not implemented, it will result in never-ending litigation since a person may file a complaint for a cause of suit initiated many years ago.

What is Section 4 of the Limitation Act?

When the limitation period for any suit, appeal, or application ends on a day when the court is closed, the suit, appeal, or application can get initiated when the court re-opens, as per section 4 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

What is the limitation period for filing a suit for compensation for any tortious act?

The limitation period for filing a suit for compensation for the commission of any tortious act will be one year.

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