Vigilantibus non dormientibus jura subveniunt

Vigilantibus non dormientibus jura subveniunt

Literal Meaning

The laws serve the vigilant, not those who sleep.

Explanation & Origin

Latin: the law assists those that are vigilant with their rights, and not those that sleep thereupon.

Law will help only those who are vigilant.

Law will not assist those who are careless of his/her right. In order to claim one’s right, she/he must be watchful of his/her right. Only those persons, who are watchful and careful of using his/her rights, are entitled to the benefits of law. Law confers rights on persons who are vigilant of their rights.

Usually, law prescribes statutory limitations for enforcing one’s relief against another. One cannot institute a suit after the prescribed statutory period. A person who has kept mum during the statutory period cannot claim for the enforcement of right after the statutory limitation.


Art. 19 of The Limitation Act of 1963 says that for money payable for money lent – Period of limitation is 3 years – Time from which period begins to run: When the loan is made.This means, when the money is lent as loan, a suit for recovery of that amount has to be filed within three years from the day on which the money was lent.

If X lent Rs.1,00,000/- to Y on 01.01.2000, if X want to file a suit against Y for the recovery of the same, he/she need to file the suit within three years, i.e., 31.12.2002. If the suit is filed after 31.12.2002, the Court will dismiss the same on the ground that the claim is barred by limitation.

Case Reference

Tilokchand Motichand & Others vs H.B. Munshi & Another [(1955) 1 S.C.R. 168]

In this case forcement of the maxim, Vigilantibus, non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Under peculiar circumstances, however, excusing or justifying the delay, courts of equity would not refuse their aid in furtherance of the rights of the party; since in such cases there was no presence to insist upon laches or   negligence, as a ground for dismissal of the  suit; and in one case carried back the account over a period of fifty years.

B.L. Sreedhar & Ors vs K.M. Munireddy (Dead) And Ors. [AIR 2003 SC 578]

In this case it was held that Delay defeats equities, or, equity aids the vigilant and not the indolo Vigilantibus, non dormientibus, jura subveniunt.” 

Smt. Vanka Radhamanohari vs Vanke Venkata Reddy And Ors. [1993 (2) BLJR 875]

In this case it was held that The general rule of limitation is based on the Latin maxim: vigilantibus, et non dormientibus, jura subveniunt (the vigilant, and  not the sleepy, are assisted by the laws). That maxim cannot be applied in connection with offences relating to cruelty against women.

Beg Ram And Anr. vs Charan Das And Others [16th May 1955]

In this case it was mentioned that On the principles, however, that the interests of the State require that a period should be put to litigation (Interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium), and that a party who is not prompt in asserting his claim does not deserve the aid of the State in enforcing it (Vigilantibus, non dormientibus jura subveniunt) it is necessary that the exercise of every right should be subject to a period of limitation. A right of revision, though more limited in scope than a right of appeal, is nonetheless a right, so that, if no period of limitation is specifically prescribed therefore in the Limitation Act it is expedient that the ninety-days rule of limitation in the case of an appeal should also be adopted in the case of a revision.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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