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Judiciary

'Can't be automatic vacation of stay after 6 months,' SC overrules 2018 judgment

By Jhanak Singh      29 February, 2024 01:00 PM      0 Comments
Cant be automatic vacation of stay after months SC overrules judgment

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court's five-judge Constitution bench on Thursday overturned a 2018 judgment in Asian Resurfacing case, which directed every order of stay in a civil or criminal trial would have a maximum life of six months.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices Abhay S Oka, J B Pardiwala, Pankaj Mithal and Manoj Misra said that there can't be a direction for automatic vacation of stay after six months by the Supreme Court in exercise of its power under Article 142 of the Constitution.

"Constitutional courts should not fix timeline for disposal of cases pending in any court," Justice Oka said, pronouncing the judgement.

The court also said the Supreme Court should not have directed for automatic vacation of stays by the High Court on expiry of six months unless extended by the High Court.

The court said the situation at grassroot levels are better understood by the courts which can decide for giving priority of a particular case.

It said timeline can be fixed for disposal of cases only in exceptional circumstances to meet extraordinary situations.

Justice Misra pronounced his own separate and concurring judgment.

In its 2018 judgment, the top court had held that the stay granted by a lower court or high court in civil and criminal cases will automatically expire after six months unless extended specifically.

The Constitution bench had on December 13, 2023 reserved its judgment in the petitions filed by the High Court Bar Association Allahabad and others.

During the hearing, the bench had noted two problems arising from the automatic vacation of stay orders. One, the automatic vacation of stay prejudices the litigant irrespective of the conduct of that litigant and there are circumstances over which a litigant has no control and second, the vacation of an order of stay is also a judicial act and it is not an administrative act.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi for the Association had submitted the mechanism could interfere with the constitutional structure, particularly Article 226 of the Constitution, and may be seen as judicial legislation.

On December 1, 2023 the Supreme Court had expressed reservations with its 2018 judgment on the 'Asian Resurfacing case'. The judgment had ordered that there would be automatic lifting of stay in all civil and criminal matters upon expiry of six-month time.

The bench, in its order, had then said, “The principle which has been laid down in the decision is liable to result in a serious miscarriage of justice”.

The previous judgment was rendered on March 28, 2018 by a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, R F Nariman and Navin Sinha (all since retired).

 

Also Read - SC to deliver judgment on Feb 29 on automatic vacation of stay
 



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