The Law of Limitation is derived from two legal maxims i.e. interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium which means “in the interest of the state there should be a limit to litigation, the second legal maxim is non-dormeientibus jura subveniunt which means “the law will assist only those who are aware of their rights and not for those who sleep upon it”.

The basic requirement of the Indian Limitation Act is that every suit must be filed in the court of law within the prescribed time period in varying cases. The Law of Limitation prescribes the time limit for different suits within, which an aggrieved party can approach, the court for redress or justice. The statute of limitations is a law passed by the legislative body to provide maximum time within which legal proceedings can be initiated. It bars the remedy only. All suits instituted after limitation period will be time-barred by this Law of Limitation.


The Limitation Act contains 32 sections which are divided into five parts and 137 articles divided into 10 parts. It came into 1st January 1964.It is the procedural law which has retrospective effect, retrospective effect refers for taking effect from the date in the past. The Limitation act derived its constitutional validity from Article 246 of the Constitution of India, it is mentioned in the concurrent list i.e. list 3 and schedule 7. According to section 2 (j) of the Limitation act, 1963‘period of limitation’ refers to the period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the schedule.


The law of Limitation only bars the court or judicial remedy and does not extinguish the right. Section 3 of the act says that if any suit is brought before the court after the expiry of the prescribed time then the court will dismiss the suit. The law of Limitation only prohibits the court or judicial remedy and does not extend the rights of the parties to the suit. It does not bar any period for setting up a defense whereas Section 27 is an exception to this rule. In the case of Punjab National Bank and Ors.vs Surendra Prasad Sinha the Supreme Court held that the rules of limitation are not supposed to terminate the rights of the parties to the suit. It was also said in the case of Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing vs. State of Bombay that the Limitation Act only bars the court remedy. Section 3 does not terminate the right of the parties.

The respondent can raise the reasonable plea in his/her defense even if the suit is time-restricted, the law of limitation does not prohibits the respondent to do so. In the case of Shrimant Shamrao Suryavanshi vs. Pralhad Bhairoba Suryavanshi the Supreme Court said that the limitation act only takes away the court or judicial remedy to enforce his/her rights, but it does not place any prohibition on the respondent to put his/her defense.


Section 5 of the act is an enabling provision to assist the litigants who enable to file the suit within the given time period before the court of law as fixed.

· The litigants can file appeal after the expiry of prescribed time period but have to give reasonable defense that satisfies the court for not filing the appeal within the prescribed time.

· The litigants have to submit necessary applications regarding the same under the various enactments; if the application has not been filed then they can file it later on provided sufficient defenses for late filing.

· This provision is applicable to the proceedings which are pending before the court of law and not applicable to the cases pending before the tribunals. For the enforcement of the decrees, Orders executed by the court the petitioners has to file an execution petition before the existing court by under the provisions of Chapter Execution in Part II (Sections 36-74) with Order XXI of the First Schedule of Code of Civil Procedure Code ,1908).

· For filing execution petition, section 5 is not applicable because it is supposed be file within the stipulated time-period.

· Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 strictly forbids from diverting any application under this section before the court which says, “Any appeal or application, other than an application under any provisions of Order XXI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908”.

The Madras High Court has made an amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908; new provision was added to sub-rule (3) to Rule 105 of Order XXI which provides various ways to the litigants who satisfies the court with “reasonable cause” for not making the application within the prescribed period as stated by the Madras High Court in the landmark decision of N.Rajendra Vs.Shriram Chits Tamil Nadu Private Limited.


Sections12-15 deals with the exclusion of time. The following time has excluded from computing the period of limitation:

1. The day on which the period of limitation for any suit, appeal or application has been reckoned.

2. The day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced.

3. Time taken for obtaining a copy of decree, sentence, order appealed from or sought to be revised.

4. Time requisite for obtaining a copy of the judgment.

5. Time requisite for obtaining a cop of the award.

6. Time spent by the applicant in prosecuting in good faith shall be executed.

7. Time spent by the party should be prosecuting another civil proceeding with diligence.

8. The day of issuance and withdrawal of the stay order or injunction.

9. Time spent on obtaining the consent or sanction of the government.

10. Time during the receiver or liquidator was appointed for winding up of company.

11. The time during which the defendant is absent from India and under territory outside Indian administration of the Central Government.


Section 16 deals with the postponement of limitation period, which refers to the extension of period of limitation.

1. When the application or suit is based on fraud, mistake or concealment by fraud unless the applicant has discovered the fraud, mistake or concealment of fraud.

2. If there is an acknowledgement of liability in respect of any property or right the time when the acknowledgement was signed.

3. Payment of on account of a debt or of interest on legacy, when payment was made.

4. If there is continuing breach of contract then new limitation period will start at the moment.

5. In case suits for compensation for acts not actionable without special damage the limitation period will start from the time when the injury occurs.


Section 27 talks about extinguishment of right to property i.e. adverse possession; it is an exception to the general principle of law of limitation and origin of the concept of adverse possessions. Adverse possession reads as if any person possesses any property in adverse to the interest of the original owner and that owner fails to file the suit within a period of limitation, then that person in possession become the owner of the property.

Karnataka Board of Wakf vs.GOI (2004) 10 SCC 779 it has been observed that, a real owner would be deemed to be in the possession of the said property so long as there is no intrusion. Not using property even for long time won’t affect owner’s title but position will be change when another person will take the possession of the property and claims right over it and take the legal action against the real owner for years together in that property.  

Article65, Schedule I of the Limitation Act prescribes the limitation time of 12 years for a suit for immovable property, the starting time of limitation of 12 years is counted from the point of time “when the possession of the defendants becomes adverse to the plaintiff”.  


Order which exceeds the jurisdiction of the court is voidable and can be taken up in the any court proceedings in any court of law where the validity of the order comes into question. In the case of Sukdev Raj vs. State of Punjab (2009) the Hon’ble court held that even for void orders the suit will be filed then the period of limitation prescribed by the schedule appended to the limitation act is applicable. It was held that void orders can be challenged at any point of time thus limitation would not be condoned.


The law of limitation only prescribes the time within which a person can enforce their legal rights. The act keeps a check on such cases so that they are not dragged for long time. The act recognizes the that there are some instances when persons are instituting an application or suit for a reasonable cause are not able to institute any application or suit within the time prescribed and the same criteria cannot be applicable for every situation.


Gunjan Rathore

Lloyd Law College

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