Case BriefsSupreme Court

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.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Ajay Mohan Goel J., dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner happened to be a Medical Officer by virtue of which he was appointed in the rural area of the State of Himachal Pradesh. An Office Memorandum issued by the Government of Himachal Pradesh, permitting employees of the Government of Himachal Pradesh to go on Extraordinary Leave subject to approval by the competent authority. In this case, the petitioner after applying for Extraordinary Leave misconducted himself by proceeding on leave without the same being sanctioned in his favour. The application also made an alternative prayer of being granted premature retirement which was rejected by the authority concerned. Due to willful absence from duty, a memorandum was issued to him. An inquiry under Rule 14 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 was proposed to be held against him. The Article of Charges framed against the petitioner were that his willful absence was in violation of Rule 3 of the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and that he was indulging in private practice at Rampur which was very unbecoming of a Government servant. The Disciplinary Authority found the petitioner to be guilty of charges. The petitioner was given an opportunity to be heard, dissatisfied by which, he was dismissed from services with immediate effect. Aggrieved by the same, an appeal was filed before the instant court which was dismissed again. Hence, the instant petition in the nature of certiorari and mandamus was filed challenging the above-aggrieved orders.

Counsel for the petitioners Shalini Thakur submitted that disciplinary proceedings were bad in law and the order was a non-speaking order’. It was further submitted that the punishment which has been imposed upon the petitioner is harsh and not in proportion with the alleged misconduct of the petitioner.

Counsel for the respondents Ajay Vaidya submitted that the Disciplinary Authority and the Appellate Authority have rightly passed appropriate orders, keeping in view the conduct of the petitioner and the report of the Inquiry Officer which established that the petitioner willfully absented himself from duty without having the approval of the same.

The Court observed that its power of judicial review against the decision of the Disciplinary Authority or the Appellate Authority does not lie. The Court cannot act as an Appellate Authority, but primarily has to see as to whether the Disciplinary proceedings were conducted in a manner which is in consonance with the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965.

Courts observation on “speaking order”

“….that speaking orders does not ipso facto mean that they have to be lengthy orders also. If the order, may be brief, spells out the reasons as to why it has been passed, then it is a speaking order and it is not necessary that only lengthy order can be said to be a speaking order.”

Courts observation on “doctrine of proportionality”

“….the doctrine of proportionality has to be taken into consideration while imposing punishment upon an employee in case he is found guilty of misconduct, but in my considered view, there cannot be any straitjacket formula in this regard and the proportionality will depend upon facts of each and every case.”

The Court in light of facts, submissions and observations held that a Medical Officer cannot be equated with any other employee and the issue of willful absence from service in the case of a Medical Officer has serious and different connotations as compared to any other employee. Hence the punishment which has been imposed upon the petitioner by the Disciplinary Authority and upheld by Appellate Authority cannot be said to be harsh or disproportionate to the misconduct of the petitioner.

In view of the above, the impugned order upheld and the petition dismissed.[Hemant Kumar v. State of H.P., 2020 SCC OnLine HP 1707, decided on 10-09-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This writ petition was filed before a Bench of Tejinder Singh Dhindsa, J., where petitioner had claimed parity of grade with the C&V cadre.

Facts of the case were that the petitioner was appointed by the respondent school as a Sewing Teacher. This position was brought under grant-in-aid scheme of the State of Punjab. It was brought before Court that a number of writ petitions were filed by Sewing Teachers working in private schools. These petitions were filed seeking parity of grade with the C&V cadre and such petitions were allowed. The Deputy Director of the private aided schools had communicated with Circle Officers (SE), Punjab regarding grant of C&V cadre to Sewing Teachers working in Government aided schools. Petitioner submitted that he had filed representations and that his claim was covered under a judgment of this Court in Rekha Ohri v. State of Punjab, CWP-14283-2004 where the required financial benefit was released to her. 

High Court directed respondents to consider the claim of petitioner and to decide legal notice accordingly by passing a speaking order. [Meenu v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 60, Order dated 21-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Surya Kant, CJ and Ajay Mohan Goel, J. disposed a writ petition which was filed to decide that whether the petitioner was asked to levy stamp duty in accordance with the notification and as per the market value of the land.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner-Company purchased land of certain measurement. Petitioner’s case was that while determining the registration charges the Sub-Registrar did not follow the Collector’s Rate as contained in the Revenue Department’s Notification whereby the classification of the land for valuation purposes was prescribed. It was claimed that the land purchased by the petitioner-Company fell in different categories; hence, corresponding stamp duty ought to have been levied. Thus the petitioner claimed that an excess amount was charged from the petitioner. The respondents argued that land purchased by the petitioner could not be classified in different categories as there was no such provision made in the software, under which, the registration is made through online system.

The Court did not present any view on merits and disposed of this writ petition with a direction to the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Collector to pass a speaking order on the representation made by the petitioner within a period of three months. [Micro Seamless v. State of H.P., 2019 SCC OnLine HP 46, decided on 08-01-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In order to ensure that the civil or criminal proceedings do not remain pending for unduly period at the trial stage, the 3-judge bench of A.K. Goel, Navin Sinha and R.F. Nariman, JJ directed that in all pending cases where stay against proceedings of a civil or criminal trial is operating, the same will come to an end on expiry of six months from today unless in an exceptional case by a speaking order such stay is extended.

The order of the Court came after it noticed that at times, proceedings are adjourned sine die on account of stay and even after stay is vacated, intimation is not received and proceedings are not taken up. Hence, remedy is required not only for corruption cases but for all civil and criminal cases where on account of stay, civil and criminal proceedings are held up.

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:

 “In all pending matters before the High Courts or other courts relating to PC Act or all other civil or criminal cases, where stay of proceedings in a pending trial is operating, stay will automatically lapse after six months from today unless extended by a speaking order on above parameters. Same course may also be adopted by civil and criminal appellate/revisional courts under the jurisdiction of the High Courts. The trial courts may, on expiry of above period, resume the proceedings without waiting for any other intimation unless express order extending stay is produced.”

The directions issued by the Court for future cases 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.

The Court was hearing the issue relating to the interpretation of Section 19(3)(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, and whether superior constitutional courts, namely, the High Courts in this country, are bound to follow Section 19(3)(c) in petitions filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India. Another question that the Court had to decide was whether the inherent powers of High Courts are available to stay proceedings under the Act under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Answering the questions, the Court said:

“the order framing charge is not purely an interlocutory order nor a final order. Jurisdiction of the High Court is not barred irrespective of the label of a petition, be it under Sections 397 or 482 Cr.P.C. or Article 227 of the Constitution. However, the said jurisdiction is to be exercised consistent with the legislative policy to ensure expeditious disposal of a trial without the same being in any manner hampered.”

The Court concluded by stating that the challenge to an order of charge should be entertained in a rarest of rare case only to correct a patent error of jurisdiction and not to reappreciate the matter. Even where such challenge is entertained, and stay is granted, the matter must be decided on day-to-day basis so that stay does not operate for an unduly long period. Though no mandatory time limit may be fixed, the decision may not exceed two-three months normally. If it remains pending longer, duration of stay should not exceed six months, unless extension is granted by a specific speaking order. [Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 310, decided on 28.03.2018]