An appeal to NCLAT was preferred by the Appellant from an Order of the NCLT. However, such appeal was filed with a delay of 9 days after expiry of the period of limitation and the grace period provided under Section 421(3) of the Act. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed by the NCLAT. Assailing this order of the NCLAT, the Appellant preferred an appeal before the Supreme Court.
The Appellant placed reliance on Section 433 of the Act that the provisions of Limitation Act apply to the proceedings or appeals, and therefore Section 5 of the Limitation Act which provides for condonation of delay for sufficient cause in case of appeals would be applicable to condone the delay beyond the period provided under Section 421(3) of the Act.
Section 421(3) of the Companies Act, 2013 provides the limitation period in respect of filing of an appeal from Orders of the National Company Law Tribunal. An appeal is required to be filed within a period of 45 days from the date on which a copy of the said order of the Tribunal is made available to the person aggrieved.
Section 421 also provides a further grace period of 45 days, subject to the satisfaction of National Company Law Appellate Tribunal that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing an appeal within the initial 45 day-period.
Further, Section 433 of the Act states that provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963, shall, as far as may be, apply to proceedings or appeals before the NCLT or NCLAT, as the case may be.
The Supreme Court in Bengal Chemists & Druggists Association. v. Kalyan Chowdhury has now held that a cursory reading of Section 421(3) and its proviso makes it clear that the Act provides a period of limitation different from that provided in the Limitation Act, and also provides a further grace period of 45 days only if the NCLAT is satisfied that an appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing its appeal within such period.
It was held that therefore, reliance cannot be placed upon Section 433 of the Act, to invoke the provisions of the Limitation Act as it applies to a limited extent possible, in view of the words “as far as may be” contained therein. The proviso to Section 421(3) of the Act being a special provision, Section 5 of the Limitation Act cannot apply.