New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday, taking into consideration the improved Covid situation, observed that it would recall its April 27 order, extending the limitation period to file cases, from October 1.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, said the suo motu extension of limitation period will be withdrawn October 1, and, after that, the usual limitation period, of 90 days, for filing cases in courts will be restored.
April 27, the top court, taking into account the second Covid wave, had relaxed the statutory period for filing petitions, including election petitions. Thursday, the bench, reserving the order, said: “We will pass orders.”
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal submitted before the bench that the Covid situation has improved and currently, there was no containment zone in the country, and that the order relaxing the limitation period can be recalled. “If there are any containment zones in Kerala or at some other place, then they can approach the court,” he added.
Agreeing with his submission, the Chief Justice said: “I think we can lift the order.”
A counsel in the matter contended that the limitation period be extended till the year-end as there was an apprehension of a third Covid wave. Terming this submission pessimistic, the bench quipped: “Please do not invite the third wave.”
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the Election Commission, suggested instead of 90 days, 45 days limitation period may be granted for filing election petitions. He added that the statutory period should start running from now, instead of October 1.
The AG said that an exception on limitation period may be carved out for the poll body.
The Election Commission, however, claimed that EVMs and VVPAT machines used in polls of six states — Assam, Kerala, Delhi, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal — are currently stuck and cannot be used for future elections.
It has contended that the apex court’s direction on an extension of limitation period created a situation where it cannot re-use of the EVMs and VVPAT machines in upcoming polls. The poll body argued these machines are lying unused, as they have to be preserved as evidence if there were an election petition in connection with polls, against the backdrop that limitation period is not running against the probable petitioners. The bench noted that if it were to have 90 days benefit now, it might result in litigation in future.