In view of the challenges faced by the outbreak of COVID-19, on March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court of India took Suo Motu cognisance of the situation and by an order extended the limitation period in respect of filing of suits/appeals/applications and all other documents in all proceedings before any courts/tribunals/authorities in India. (Supreme Court Order dated March 23, 2020) .As per the order, the limitation period extends from March 15, 2020 till the further orders of the Supreme Court. In other words, if a due date for filing any document or taking any action in any proceedings was falling from March 15, 2020 onward, then the said date now stands extended to the date when the Supreme Court of India will pass another order lifting this extension.
On March 24, 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs also issued an order for lock down of all establishments pan-India except for those providing health and essential services. The lock down started from March 25, 2020 and will remain in force 21 days from its commencement. Consequently, all IP Offices in India are now closed from March 25, 2020 and will reopen on April 15, 2020, if the lock down order of the government is lifted. (Public Notice dated March 25, 2020 || Corrigendum to Public Notice dated March 25, 2020). According to a public notice issued by the Head of IP Offices in India (Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks, Geographical Indication and Copyright), all due dates for filing documents/replies, payment of fees, and completion of any action in respect of any IP application filed in India shall now be the date of the re-opening of IP Offices. The notice issued by the Head of IP Offices in India is in accordance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court of India by the aforesaid Order dated March 23, 2020.
The Supreme Court of India is likely to review the situation once the lock down orders are lifted and may pass further orders for closing the extension of limitation period. It is likely to avoid the rush of filing of documents on the date of re-opening of the Courts and IP Offices, the Supreme Court may provide a reasonable period to file documents or take actions which were required to be taken during the period of closure of the Offices.
We are keeping a watch on various developments that are taking place in India in this trying time and will keep you informed accordingly.
Till then be safe and take care.