Legal Disability and its Effect on CPC with reference to Limitation Act

Legal Disability and Its Effect on CPC with reference to Limitation Act

Author: Charu Chadha, from Law College Dehradun, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun, India

  1. Introduction

The intention of the statute of limitations is to put an end to litigation in accordance with the principle, interest  reipublicae ut sit finis litium which states that it is in the interest of the state to put an end to it. Legal Disability is defined under section 6 of the Limitation Act which states that if the person seeing was disqualified at the time the cause of action arose, there will be no time limit if the suit is filed within three years of the disqualification ending. Section 6 of the aforementioned Act allows children or lunatics to file a suit or application for a longer period of time

2. What is the legal definition of disability?

The absence of legal capacity to conduct an act due to a lack of competent physical and mental abilities. The term “disability” usually refers to a person’s incapacity to exercise all of the legal rights that only an average person would have.

  • Section 6 states that when a person who is entitled to institute a suit or make an application for the decree’s execution is a minor, insane, or idiot at that time then he can file a suit or make an application after the end of disability as would have specified under the third column of the schedule.
  • When such a person is affected by both the disabilities and the person gets affected with any other disability then he can file the suit or makes the application when both the disabilities come to an end.
  • When such disability lasts till the death of the person then his legal representatives can file the suit or makes an application after the periods of death.
  • Where the legal representatives get affected other than death then the above provisions shall apply.
  • When a person with an illness dies after the disability has ended but before the deadline set by this section, his legal representative may file a lawsuit or file an application within the same time limit as if the person had not died.

Under this section minor includes a child in the womb of the mother.

3. Kinds of Legal Disability

Minor: As per section 3 of the Indian Majority Act, 1875 a person becomes major when he attains the age of eighteen years. For the welfare of the child, the court appoints the guardian until he/she attains the age of majority. In some of the cases, 21 years of age is to be considered as the age of majority.

Insane: It is explained in one of the cases named SK Yadav v State of Maharashtra [1] and the Supreme Court, in this case, stated that there is no specific way to check the insanity of the person. It can only be determined preceding, accompanying, and after the event’s behaviors.

Lunatic: A lunatic is a person who had an understanding but by accident or some other disease, he lost the use of his senses. A lunatic is a person who is sometimes in his senses and sometimes not.

4. Rules related to Legal Disability under the Limitation Act, 1963

The rules related to legal disability are enshrined under sections 3,6,7,8 and 9 of the Limitation Act, 1963. Section 3 is the most crucial section which provides for the time period in which a person can file a suit beyond the concept of limitation which stops the person from filing the suits. Section 4-24 contains the exceptions in case of extraordinary situations. There are three grounds available on which a person can file a suit beyond the periods of limitation i.e. minor, insane, and lunatic. Section 8 relates to section 6(2) in which the concept of multiple disabilities is discussed and this section 8 states that the time period of limitation is 3 years after the death of that very person or ceasing of his disability. Section 9 states that once the period has begun, no further disability can reschedule its time period.

5. Rules enshrined under CPC related to Legal Disability

As per Order VIII, Rule 5(1) if a specific charge is not filed the suit shall stand dismissed and if the defendant has specifically denied or failed to recognize something then it will be admitted specifically except against those persons who are suffering from legal disability.

Section 6(3) is to be r/w Order XXII which says that the legal representative can be a party to the suit on the behalf of the deceased plaintiff.

As per Order XXII, if no legal representative of the deceased is left then the court can appoint the administer general or such other officer as it thinks fit to represent his estate.[2]

6. Case Laws

  • Bapu Tatya Desai v Bala  Raojee  Desai [3]

The purpose of section 7 of the Limitation Act, according to this instance, is to control the alleged indulgence available to children in order to ensure that the advantage of section 6 of the Limitation Act does not extend to a proportionally large number of minors but only until the eldest of the group does not become a major.

  • Smt. Usha Rani Banerjee & Ors. Vs. Premier Insurance Company Ltd, Madras & Ors [4]

Section 7 is an exception to the principle laid down under section 6. The court held that if there are many individuals filing one suit and any one of them is disabled then time will not go against them until the disease ceased to exist. However, if one of the parties to the suit was competent to discharge the other without the consent of the other, time would begin to run against both of them.

  • Lalchand Dhanalal v Dharamchand and Ors. [5]

According to section 9 of the Limitation Act, a cause of action or grievance must arise when the plaintiff dies, and the period of limitation is thus commenced, with no subsequent infirmity leading to a reset of the clock. A plaintiff can only be entitled to compensation if he or she had such a right at the time the statute of limitations commenced due to legal incapacity. Any later illness on his part will not prohibit the limitation from running. As a result, he will be subject to the same statute of limitations as the earlier limited owner, but if his claims are unrelated to the earlier claimant’s plea, such a disability may be used to his advantage.

7. Conclusion

After analyzing the various aspects of legal disability under Limitation Act and Code of Civil Procedure it can be said that there are some situations under which a person can file a suit or move an application after the expiration of limitation period and it also provides us the facility of filing a suit if a person dies before the said date. It also provides a remedy if there is no legal representative. One of the defensive mechanisms is used to keep an eye on the people so that they cannot misuse it. As per my understanding, this law is accurate enough as it prevents the misuse to the provisions and the judges should also consider this limitation period as a boon.

[1] CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2008 (Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.509 of 2008).

[2]   Rules- Relating-to-Persons-Suffering-from-Legal-Disability.pdf

[3] (1920) 22 BOMLR 1383, ¶ 3.

[4] AIR 1983 Allahabad 27

[5] AIR 1965 MP 102.