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Report No. 89

II Special and Local Laws

29.2. Section 29(.-Earlier recommendation of the Law Commission as to special and local laws.- With reference to the savings effected as regards special and local laws, the Law Commission in its Report on the Act of 1908, while dealing with section 29 of the Limitation Act, 1908 (corresponding to present section 29), observed1 as unde.-

"The combined operation of sub-clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (2) is that so far as special and local laws are concerned, only sections 4, 9 to 18 and 22 of the Act apply, and that too subject to such modifications as may be prescribed. We consider that there is no need for this restriction and that the principles contained in sections 4 to 25 should be made applicable to all special and local laws, leaving it open to the legislature to exclude the application of any or all of these sections, in any given case."

Implementing this recommendation, section 29(2) as re-enacted in the present Act, reads as unde.-

"(2) Where an special or local law prescribed for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed by the Schedule, the provisions of section 3 shall apply as if such period were the period prescribed by the Schedule and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by any special or local law, the provisions contained in sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) shall apply only in so far as, and to the extent to which, they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law."

1. Law Commission of India, 3rd Report (Limitation Act, 1908), para. 59.

29.3. "Special" and "local" law.- Several decisions of the Supreme Court1-3 have made it clear that a "special law" is a law relating to a particular area or territory.

1. Kaushalya Rani v. Gopal Singh, AIR 1964 SC 480.

2. Mangu Ram v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi, AIR 1976 SC 105.

3. J.A. De Piedade v. A.V. De Fonseca, AIR 1979 SC 984.

29.4. The Supreme Court has also noticed1 the important departure made by Limitation Act, 1963 (from the Act of 1908) in so far as the provisions contained in section 29, sub-section (2) are concerned. The Court concluded that since, under the new Limitation Act, section 5 is specifically made applicable by section 29(2), it can be availed of for the purpose of extending the period of limitation prescribed by a special or local law, if the applicant can show that he had sufficient cause for not presenting the application within the period of limitation.

The court took notice of the fact that a time limit of 60 days was laid down by section 417(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, which was a "special" law of limitation. But the mere fact that the special law has, by peremptory and imperative language, prescribed a period of limitation in section 417(4) was held as not a sufficient ground to displace the applicability of section 5.

1. Mangu Ram v. Delhi Municipality, AIR 1976 SC 105.

29.5. Definition of special or local la.-not needed.- In view of the above authoritative pronouncement, there appears to be no need to define the expression "special law" and 'local law' as occurring in the Limitation Act.

29.6. "Expressly excluded".- The expression "expressly excluded" by such special or local law, as occurring in section 29(2) also, came up for consideration before the Supreme Court1 in a case dealing with section 81 of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951. The Supreme Court overruled an earlier view about the interpretation of this expression as occurring in section 29(2)(a) of the Limitation Act, 19.-a view to the effect that the exclusion must be by express words i.e., by express reference to the sections of the Limitation Act.

The Supreme Court held that what had to be seen was whether the scheme of the special law and the nature of the remedy provided, therein "are such that the Legislature intended it to be a complete code by itself which alone should govern the several matters provided by it." "If, on an examination of the relevant provisions, it is clear that the provisions of the Limitation Act are necessarily excluded, then the benefits conferred therein cannot be called in aid to supplement the provisions of the Act."

The Supreme Court further held that even in a case where the special law does not exclude the provisions of sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act by an express reference, "it would nonetheless be open to the Court to examine whether and to what extent the nature of those provisions or the nature of the subject-matter and the scheme of the special law exclude their operation."

1. Hukumdev v. Lalit Narain, AIR 1974 SC 480.

29.7. Cases in High Courts.- In view of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court mentioned above, courts enter upon a comparative study of the scheme of the special or local law and the Limitation Act, 1963, with a view to finding out whether an exclusion is suggested, even though the exclusion does not appear in so many words in the text of the special or local law.

29.8. For example, a Full Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court1. has applied section 5 of the Limitation Act to an objection petition filed under section 11(3) of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960, with a terse observatio.-

"The provisions contained in the Ceiling Act do not specifically exclude the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act. Consequently, it cannot be doubted that to an objection application as provided for in sub-section (3) of section 11 of the Ceiling Act, section 5 of the Limitation Act will be applicable."

1. Vijay Singh v. Competent Authority, AIR 1978 MP 72.

29.9. The Calcutta High Court has held1 that the appellate Co-operative Tribunal, established by the Bengal Cooperative Societies Act, 1940, would be governed by the provisions of the Limitation Act which are applicable to "courts" and accordingly section 29(2) of the Act would also be applicable. A certified copy is not required to be filled along with the appeal, but even then the Court came to the conclusion that the provisions of section 12(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963 (regarding excluding the period for obtaining copy of the award) would be applicable, because an aggrieved person cannot make up his mind whether to file an appeal or not unless he reads the reasons given by the lower court.

1. Nirmal Kumar v. Panihati Co-op. Bank, AIR 1977 Cal 246.

29.10. No change needed as to the expression "expressly excluded".- From the above discussion, it appears that the expression "expressly excluded" occurring in sub-section (2) of section 29 has been construed liberally in determining the question whether sections 4 to 24 are available to proceedings under special or local laws. It may be difficult to devise a verbal formula that will cover the variety of situations, and we do not, in the present state of the case-law, propose to make any verbal change.

The Limitation Act, 1963 Back

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