Unless extended for “good reason”, stay by ‘any court’ automatically expires within a period of six months; SC reminds

Supreme Court: Clarifying the legal position on expiry of stay, the 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph, JJ said

“Whatever stay has been granted by any court including the High Court automatically expires within a period of six months, and unless extension is granted for good reason, within the next six months, the trial Court is, on the expiry of the first period of six months, to set a date for the trial and go ahead with the same.”

The order of the Court came after the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Pune, stated in an order that the Complainant should move an application before the High Court to resume the trial. The order of the Magistrate further read that the lower Court cannot pass any order which has been stayed by the Hon’ble High Court, Bombay. The Supreme Court had, in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 310, held,

“35. … …. In cases where stay is granted in future, the same will end on expiry of six months from the date of such order unless similar extension is granted by a speaking order. The speaking order must show that the case was of such exceptional nature that continuing the stay was more important than having the trial finalized. The trial Court where order of stay of civil or criminal proceedings is produced, may fix a date not beyond six months of the order of stay so that on expiry of period of stay, proceedings can commence unless order of extension of stay is produced.”

The Court, hence, reminded the Magistrates all over the country that in our pyramidical structure under the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court is at the Apex, and the High Courts, though not subordinate administratively, are certainly subordinate judicially.

“This kind of orders fly in the face of para 35 of our judgment. We expect that the Magistrates all over the country will follow our order in letter and spirit.”

Stating that the mandate of speedy justice applies to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 cases as well as other cases where at trial stage proceedings are stayed by the higher court i.e. the High Court or a court below the High Court, as the case may be, the Court, hence, directed:

The directions issued by the Supreme Court in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 310 are:

  • In cases where stay is granted in future, the same will end on expiry of six months from the date of such order unless similar extension is granted by a speaking order.
  • The speaking order must show that the case was of such exceptional nature that continuing the stay was more important than having the trial finalized.
  • The trial Court where order of stay of civil or criminal proceedings is produced, may fix a date not beyond six months of the order of stay so that on expiry of period of stay, proceedings can commence unless order of extension of stay is produced.

[Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATION NO. 1577 OF 2020, order dated 15.10.2020]


Read detailed report on the 2018 verdict in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation2018 SCC OnLine SC 310,  here.

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