Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 has No Application in Criminal Proceedings: Chhattisgarh High Court

The Chhattisgarh High Court has ruled that the Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 has no application in criminal proceedings.

[Know the Law] Section 14 of limitation Act provides for exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in court without jurisdiction.

It states that, (1) In computing the period of limitation for any suit the time during which the plaintiff has been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding, whether in a court of the first instance or of appeal or revision, against the defendant shall be excluded, where the proceeding relates to the same matter in issue and is prosecuted in good faith in a court which, from the defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature, is unable to entertain it.

(2) In computing the period of limitation for any application, the time during which the applicant has been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding, whether in a court of first instance or of appeal or revision, against the same party for the same relief shall be excluded, where such proceeding is prosecuted in good faith in a court which, from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature, is unable to entertain it.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in rule 2 of Order XXIII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), the provisions of sub-section (1) shall apply in relation to a fresh suit instituted on permission granted by the court under rule 1 of that Order where such permission is granted on the ground that the first suit must fail by reason of a defect in the jurisdiction of the court or other cause of a like nature. Explanation. — For the purposes of this section

(a) in excluding the time during which a former civil proceeding was pending, the day on which that proceeding was instituted and the day on which it ended shall both be counted;

(b) a plaintiff or an applicant resisting an appeal shall be deemed to be prosecuting a proceeding;

(c) misjoinder of parties or of causes of action shall be deemed to be a cause of a like nature with defect of jurisdiction.

Issue before the Court

Whether in a criminal proceeding, Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963 would be applicable?

 In the present case, the dismissal of complainant’s application filed for condonation of delay read with Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 was under challenge.

Observation of the Court

  • The Court scrutinizing the scope of sec 14 of limitation Act observed that, “the principle of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is the protection against the bar of limitation of a person honestly doing his best to get his case tried on the merits, but failing through the Court being unable to give him such a trial. Section 14 provides for exclusion of time spent in proceedings bona fide, in a Court which lacked jurisdiction. The aims and objectives of the said provision are to afford protection against the bar of limitation to a litigant who was honestly prosecuting the lis before a Court which had no jurisdiction to grant the relief prayed for. The principle underlying the said provision is that limitation will remain in suspense while the litigant was bona fide prosecuting for his rights in a Court of justice due to wrong advice”.
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  • It further added that, Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 contains a general principle based on justice, equity and a good conscience and the said principle should be applied without strict regard to the period of limitation prescribed. A person prosecuting under a mistake of law is entitled to the benefit of Section 14 whereas while dealing with a petition filed under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, a Court has to be satisfied that there was reasonable ground for approaching the Court late and that each day of delay is more or less explained. Thus, exclusion of time under Section 14 of the Limitation Act is mandatory once the conditions precedent prescribed in Section 14(1) are satisfied, whereas the Court’s power under Section 5 of the Limitation Act is discretionary. Section 14(1) has been made applicable to any suit and “suit” has been defined in Section 2(l) of the Limitation Act, 1963 and it does not include an appeal or an application.
  • The court observed that the Apex Court in the case of J. Kumaradasan Nair and others v. IRIC Sohan has held that Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963 is applicable only in suits in view of the definition of suit contained in Section 2(l) of the Limitation Act, 1963, but the principle thereof would be applicable for the purpose of condonation of delay in filing revision application in terms of Section 5 thereof.

The bench thus noted, Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963, as noticed hereinabove, is only applicable to suits and by virtue of the principle of law laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in J. Kumaradasan Nair (supra), it has been made applicable to revision or appeal arising out of the said proceeding, but its application is restricted only to a civil proceeding, it does not apply to the criminal proceeding stretching beyond the civil proceeding and by virtue of Section 14(1), appeal or revision (civil), by virtue of the decision of the Supreme Court in J. Kumaradasan Nair (supra), it would be stretching too much to hold that it should also be applicable in the criminal proceeding.”

  • Thus, the applicability of Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963 is confined to suit and appeal or revision, it cannot be made applicable to criminal proceeding like revision. However, Section 470(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides that in computing the period of limitation, the time during which any person has been prosecuting with due diligence another prosecution, whether in a Court of first instance or in a Court of appeal or revision, against the offender, shall be excluded, it noted.
  • The court therefore held that the petitioners have failed to demonstrate any sufficient reason for delay of two years in questioning the order of discharge and thus the revisional Court is absolutely justified in dismissing the revision petition.

Case: Radhe Shyam Khemka (dead) vs.. Raju Yadav alias Ram Kumar

Citation: Criminal Misc. Petition No.744 of 2014

Coram: Hon’ble Shri Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal

[Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 has no application in criminal proceedings: Chhattisgarh High Court]

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