There can’t be automatic vacation of stay orders of trial courts, HCs: SC


PTI, Feb 29, 2024, 2:21 PM IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday held that there cannot be an automatic vacation of stay orders granted by a lower court or high court in civil and criminal cases after six months.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud did not agree with its 2018 judgement which had held that there should be automatic vacation of stay orders of the courts below unless they are extended specifically.

Laying down guidelines, the judgement also said the constitutional courts, the Supreme Court and the high courts should refrain from fixing a timeline for disposal of cases and it can be done only in exceptional circumstances.

The bench pronounced two separate but concurring judgements.

“The constitutional courts should not lay down a timeline to decide cases since grassroot issues are known to concerned courts only and such orders can be passed in exceptional circumstances only,” said Justice A S Oka.

“There cannot be an automatic vacation of stay,” said Justice Oka, who wrote the judgement for himself, the CJI and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

Justice Pankaj Mithal wrote a separate but concurring judgement in the case.

The top court had on December 13, 2023 reserved its judgement in the case after hearing senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who appeared for the High Court Bar Association of Allahabad, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and other lawyers on the issue.

The top court had on December 1 last year referred to a five-judge bench its 2018 judgement for reconsideration.

The previous judgement said the stay granted by a lower court or high court in civil and criminal cases will automatically expire after six months unless extended specifically.

In its 2018 verdict in the case of Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency P Ltd Director Vs CBI, a three-judge bench had held that the interim order of stay granted by courts, including high courts, will stand vacated automatically unless they are specifically extended.

Consequently, no trial or proceedings can remain stayed after six months. However, the top court had later clarified that the judgement would not be applicable if the stay order was passed by it.

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