Limitation Act Sections 3-5

In this post we shall see sections 3,4 and 5. We will take these sections one by one. I have highlighted the important terms in the sections along with short one liners after the sections to help you remember the section and have also added a few important points about the section which will be helpful in mains exam. The material is referred from the bare act and the textbooks. Do keep your bare act handy to see the number of the section and the sub-sections, the points here should not confuse you about the numbering of the section and sub-section.

Section 3 Bar of limitation

  1. Subject to sections 4-24
    – every suit instituted, appeal preferred, and application made
    after the prescribed period
    shall be dismissed
    – although limitation has not been set up as defence.
    (Suit/Appeal/Application— After—Prescribed Period—Shall be—Dismissed) 
  2. For the purpose of this Act-
    a. Suit is instituted-
    i. In ordinary case– when plaint is presented to the proper officer
    ii. In case of pauper– his application to leave to sue as pauper is made
    iii. Claim against company– being wound up by the Court– when the claim is first sent before official liquidator.
    (OC= Proper Officer; Pauper= Application to leave to sue; Company= Official Liquidator) b. Claim by way of Set off and Counter Claim– shall be treated as a separate suit and shall be deemed to have been instituted-
     i. Set off= on date of suit
     ii. Counter Claim= when it is made in the Court
    (SO/ CC- Separate Suit; SO- Suit; CC-Made in Court)

          c.  Application by notice of motion in High Court– when the application is presented to the proper officer of that court.

Crux of the Section

Section 3 and its sub-sections are giving the basic principle, i.e., if you cross the prescribed period (PP) the S/A/A (Suit/Appeal/Application) will be dismissed. For the sake of clarification the sub-section 2 tells us as to when shall a S/A/A shall be deemed to be instituted. This is done so that there is no confusion that remains as to the technical aspect of the section.

Important Points:

  • This section is the general rule of limitation, i.e., every suit, appeal or application after the prescribed period shall be dismissed by the Court. It is the duty of the court.
  • However, this general rule is subjected to the provisions stated in sections 4-24, i.e., the exceptions to this general rule lies in these sections.
  • Plea of limitation can be raised by the defendant at any stage of the case, however, it is desirable that the defendant raise such plea at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Question of limitation cannot be brought before the Court again once it is decided.
  • The plaint presented for the purpose of this section has to be a valid plaint. That is to say if a plaint is not accompanied with proper court fees it will not save limitation, unless the Court allows some time to the party.
  • Withdrawal of a suit does not make the time to stop from running. So if a suit is later filed on same cause of action it shall have to be filed within the limitation so prescribed for that suit.

Section 4 Expiry of prescribed period when court is closed

– Where the prescribed period for any suit, appeal or application

Expires on a day when the court is closed,

– The suit, appeal or application may be instituted, preferred or made

On the date when the court reopens.

Explanation: A court shall be deemed to be closed on any day within the meaning of this section if during any part of its normal working hours it remains closed on that day.

(Prescribed Period–of S/A/A–Expiry–Court is Closed–When Court Reopens)

Important Points:

  • Suit, appeal or application has to be made before a proper Court and not any Court. Section 4 applies if the proper Court where such suit, appeal or application was to be made was closed.
  • Rationale of this section
    a. The law does not compel a man to do that which he cannot possibly do
    b. An act of Court shall not prejudice any party.

Section 5 Extension of prescribed period in certain cases

-Any appeal or any application,

Other than an application under any of the provisions of Order XXI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908,

May be, admitted after the prescribed period,

If the appellant or the applicant satisfies the court that

-He had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or making the application within such period.

Explanation: The fact that the appellant or the applicant was misled by any order, practice or judgement of the High Court in ascertaining or computing the prescribed period may be sufficient cause within the meaning of this section.

(A/A–May Be–admitted After PP–Satisfy Court–Sufficient Cause)

Crux of the section

So here the Act is giving you a chance to bring your case to the court. Now to avail the benefit of this section you need to satisfy the court. Now satisfy about what? you have to satisfy the court that there was a sufficient cause because of which you could not prefer and appeal or an application before that court within such time. This section does not apply to Order XXI of the CPC which relates to execution of decrees and orders.

Important Points:

  • This section applies only on appeals and applications.
  • It does not apply to suits. Reason- in the act the prescribed period for suits is longer and ranges from 3-12 years as specified in the schedule. But the appeals and applications have shorter prescribed period.
  • It is the discretion of the court to condone the delay and as such the appellant/ applicant has no right to get the delay condoned.
  • The condition/ circumstance giving rise to the delay must arise before the expiration of period of limitation.

Concluding remarks

This post will help you remember important points of the sections. However, if you notice any issues or problems in the content or in the manner of presentation do let us now.


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