Time Spent Contesting Bonafide Litigation At Wrong Forum Would Be Excluded While Computing Limitation

Posted On - 29 April, 2024 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva


[1]A Two-Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court (“Hon’ble SC”) comprising of Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Aravind Kumar (“Hon’ble Bench”), while reversing the findings of the Hon’ble Jammu & Kashmir High Court (“Hon’ble HC”), held that the time consumed in contesting bonafide litigation by the litigant at a wrong forum (believing it to be appropriate) would be excluded while computing the period of limitation under Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act.


On 01.06.1984, the predecessors in interest of the Appellant, who were Plaintiffs therein, filed a Suit for Possession (“Suit”) against the Respondents who were Defendants therein. On 10.12.1986, the Suit was decreed by learned Munsiff, First Class, Hiranagar, in favour of the Appellants, and the Respondents were directed to deliver vacant and peaceful possession of the property to the Plaintiff (“Decree”). This Decree was challenged by the Respondents before the learned District Judge, Kathua, in First Appeal, which came to be dismissed on 09.02.1990. Thereafter, the Respondents preferred a Second Appeal before the Hon’ble HC which came to be dismissed vide Order dated 09.11.2000. No further appeal was preferred. Therefore, the decree of the learned Munsiff Court attained finality on 09.11.2000.

An Application for Execution (“Execution Application”) filed by the predecessor in interest of the Appellants, before the learned Tehsildar (Settlement), Hiranagar on 18.12.2000. This Application came to be rejected on 29.01.2005, whereby the learned Tehsildar observed that the Appellants had not applied before the Court with appropriate jurisdiction.

The Appellant thereafter, on 03.10.2005 preferred a fresh application for execution before the Court of Munsiff, Hiranagar. This application resulted in the Order dated 28.11.2007, whereby, the learned Munsiff Court dismissed the Application as being barred by limitation, which has come to be confirmed by the Hon’ble HC vide it’s Impugned Order dated 09.04.2018 (“Impugned Order”).


Whether the period (18.12.2000 to 29.01.2005) diligently pursuing execution petition before the Tehsildar, would be excluded for the purposes of computing the period of limitation or not?


The Hon’ble Bench perused Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act, which is also applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and observed that it carves out an exception, excluding the period of limitation when the proceedings are being pursued with due diligence and good faith in a Court “which from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature, is unable to entertain it.”

Further, the Hon’ble Bench considered the principles pertaining to applicability of Section 14 of the Limitation Act (Exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in court without jurisdiction), as discussed and summarised by the Hon’ble SC in Consolidated Engg. Enterprises v. Principle Secy, Irrigation Department (2008) 7 SCC 169 wherein it was expounded that the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, must be interpreted and applied in a manner that furthers the cause of justice, rather than aborts the proceedings at hand and the time taken diligently pursuing a remedy, in a wrong Court, should be excluded.

With regards to the applicability of the above principles to the facts of the present case, the Hon’ble Bench observed that on a perusal of the record further observed that, it is apparent that the Plaintiff has pursued the matter bonafidely and diligently and in good faith before what it believed to be the appropriate forum and, therefore, such time period is bound to be excluded when computing limitation before the Court having competent jurisdiction. Therefore, all conditions stipulated for invocation of Section 14 of the Limitation Act are fulfilled.

Consequently, the Hon’ble Bench allowed the Appeal and held that the period from 18.12.2000, when the Execution Application was filed to 29.01.2005, when the prior proceeding was dismissed, has to be excluded while computing period of limitation, which results in the execution application filed by the Appellant, being within the limitation period prescribed under Article 182 of the Limitation Act as well, which is 3 years.


This Judgment of the Hon’ble SC reiterates the principles established by a catena of its own Judgments with regards to the principles pertaining to exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in court without jurisdiction, especially that the provisions of the Limitation Act must be interpreted and applied in a manner that furthers the cause of justice.


Purni Devi & Anr. v. Babu Ram & Anr. : https://www.sci.gov.in/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?action=get_judgements_pdf&diary_no=244892018&type=j&order_date=2024-04-02

Civil Appeal No. 004633-004633 of 2024

Judgment dated 02nd April, 2024