The Hon’ble Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna & Justice V. Ramasubramanian, vide order dated18th September 2020 in Sagufa Ahmed & Ors. v. Upper Assam Plywood Products Pvt. Ltd. & Ors observed that the expression “Prescribed Period” appearing in Section 4 of Limitation Act, 1963 cannot be construed to mean anything other than the period of limitation.
Challenging an order passed by the Guwahati Bench of NCLT, in a winding up proceeding against a company, of dismissing an application for condonation of delay as well as an appeal as time barred, the appellants approached this Hon’ble Court.
Though the appellants admittedly received the certified copy of the order on 19.12.2019, they chose to file the statutory appeal before NCLAT on 20.07.2020. The appeal was filed along with an application for condonation of delay. By an order dated 04.08.2020, the Appellate Tribunal dismissed the application for condonation of delay on the ground that the Tribunal has no power to condone the delay beyond a period of 45 days.
It is against the dismissal of both the application for condonation of delay as well as appeal, that the appellants have come up with the present appeals.
The contentions raised by the learned counsel for the appellants are 2 fold namely that the Appellant Tribunal erred in computing the period of limitation from the date of the order of the NCLT, contrary to Section 421(3) of the Companies Act, 2013, and that the Appellate Tribunal failed to take note of the lockdown as well as the order passed by this court on 23.03.2020 in Suo motu Writ Petition No.3 of 2020, extending period of limitation for filing any proceeding with effect from 15.03.2020 until further orders.
The Companies Act 2013 prescribes a period of 45 days to file an appeal. Further, vide Section 421(3) the Appellate Tribunal was empowered to condone the delay up to a period of 45 days. This period of 45 days started running from 02.02.2020 and it expired according to the appellants on 18.03.2020. Provided that the Appellate Tribunal may entertain an appeal after the expiry if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal within that period.
However, the words “Prescribed Period” appearing in Section 4 of the Limitation Act 1963 cannot be construed to mean anything other than the period of limitation and cannot be used to condone a delay beyond the period mentioned in the statute.
The appeals accordingly were dismissed.
Image link: https://bit.ly/2RNSyta