20 Mar 2020
Limitation Period For Executing A Decree Passed By A Foreign Court Will Be The Limitation Prescribed In The Reciprocating Foreign Country:
Application for executing a foreign decree covered under Article 137
Application for executing a foreign decree will be an application not covered under any other article of the Limitation Act and would thus be covered under Article 137 of the Limitation Act and the applicable limitation would be 3 years.
Where the decree holder does not take any steps for execution of the decree during the period of limitation prescribed in the cause country for execution of decrees in that country
In such a case he has lost his right to execute the decree in the country where the cause of action arose. It would be a travesty of justice if the person having lost his rights to execute the decree in the cause country is permitted to execute the decree in a forum country. This would be against the principle which we have accepted, that the law of limitation is not merely a procedural law. This would mean that a person who has lost his/her right or remedy to execute the foreign decree in the court where the decree was passed could take benefit of the provisions of the Indian law for extending the period of limitation. In the facts of the present case, the limitation in India is 12 years for executing a money decree whereas in England it is 6 years. There may be countries where the limitation for executing such a decree may be more than 12 years. The right of the litigant in the latter situation would not come to an end at 12 years and it would abide by the law of limitation of the cause country which passed the decree. Hence, limitation would start running from the date the decree was passed in the cause country and the period of limitation prescribed in the forum country would not apply. In case the decree holder does not take any steps to execute the decree in the cause country within the period of limitation prescribed in the country of the cause, it cannot come to the forum country and plead a new cause of action or plead that the limitation of the forum country should apply.
The proceedings in execution may go on for some time, and the decree may be executed, satisfied partly but not fully. The judgment debtor may not have sufficient property or funds in the cause country to satisfy the decree etc. In such eventuality what would be done? In our considered view, in such circumstances the right to apply under Section 44A will accrue only after the execution proceedings in the cause country are finalised and the application under Section 44A of the CPC can be filed within 3 years of the finalisation of the execution proceedings in the cause country as prescribed by Article 137 of the Act. The decree holder must approach the Indian court along with the certified copy of the decree and the requisite certificate within this period of 3 years.
The Court clarified that applying in the cause country for a certified copy of the decree or the certificate of part satisfaction, if any, of the decree, as required by Section 44A will not tantamount to step in aid to execute the decree in the cause country.