What is the effect of fraud or the right to file a suit or make an application in regard to limitation? (The Limitation Act, 1963)
Where the execution of a decree or order within the period of limitation has been prevented by fraud or force of judgment- debtor, the court may, on the application of the judgment-creditor made after the expiry of the period of limitation extend the period for the execution of the decree order. But such an application must be made by the judgment creditor within one year from the date of the discovery of the fraud or the cessation of force, as the case may be. [Sec. 17 (2)].
The principle underlying the section is that the right of a party defrauded cannot be affected by lapse of time or by anything else done or omitted to be done by him so long as he remain without any fault of his own, is ignorance of the fraud which had been committed. But as the circumstances constituting the fraud become known to him, subsequent lapse of time will operate as a bar.
Those who fraudulently appropriate the property of others should be assured that no time will secure to them the fruits of their dishonestly’, but that their children’s children will be compelled to restore the property of which their ancestors have fraudulently possessed themselves.
The reason why, if fraud has been concealed by one party and until it has been discovered by the other, the statute should not operate as a bar is that it ought not, in conscience to run the conscience or the party being so affected that he ought not to be allowed to avail himself of the length of time.