The Supreme Court yesterday (Thursday) extended till August 31 the tenure of filing all kinds of cases for which the period of limitations have expired on or after March 26 this year.
The Appellate Division of the SC issued the directive for the interest of lawyers and litigants who could not file the cases with the courts in scheduled period due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
"... Therefore, in exercise of our power and authority vested in us by the constitution under article 104, it is thus ordered that any period of limitation in filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals/revision/all other proceedings, civil, criminal or administrative under general or special laws which expired on or after March 26, 2020 stands extended till August 31," a six-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain said in an order.
The apex court came up with the directive while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam raised the issue during a virtual hearing on an appeal related to Grameenphone.
In the written order, the Appellate Division bench said, "We are conscious of the fact that the existing laws do not give any court or tribunal the authority to extend the period of limitation provided under any special law. However, we are also aware of the singularly unprecedented, unwanted and totally unavoidable circumstances which has compelled people all over the world to be confined to their homes."
In course of virtual hearing of the appeal, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam mentioned the difficulties being faced by the litigants of the country due to the effects of Covid-19.
He elaborated that there are numerous cases where specific limitations apply and it has not been possible for the parties to any litigation to physically go to the courts for remedy.
The attorney general explained that the relentless incidences of Covid-19 is causing fear among the citizens so much so that when the courts reopen they will be fearful of going.
He further told the SC that the subordinate courts are open from August 5, but there is no certainty that the need to lockdown will not arise again as it is happening in many parts of the world.
In such circumstances, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam argued that there needs to be an open-ended safeguard like that pronounced by the Supreme Court of India allowing a blanket extension of all periods of limitations in all proceedings including limitations specified in special laws till further order.
Supreme Court Bar Association President Advocate AM Amin Uddin, former attorney general Advocate AF Hasan Ariff, senior lawyer Advocate Md Qumrul Haque Siddique and Additional Attorney General Murad Reza also expressed similar views before the Appellate Division during the virtual proceedings.