The Supreme Court in a landmark case has 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 Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. VS. Central Bureau of Investigation (Criminal Appeal No. 1375-1376 OF 2013) decided on March 28, 2018, has 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 28th March, 2018, unless in an exceptional case by a speaking order such stay is extended.
The question was about the jurisdiction of the High Court to consider the challenge against an order framing a charge under Prevention of Corruption Act, and to grant stay in such matters. It also considered how much power to be exercised when stay ought to be granted.
The Supreme Court held if a stay is granted it cannot run for an indefinite period. It shall stand vacated on expiry of six months. Moreover, appropriate conditions along with stay can be imposed over the party/parties to hold them accountable against injustice caused to other party/parties, if courts find no merits in the case.
The extension beyond the period of six months can be granted only through speaking order, which as per Hon’ble Court must reveal exceptional nature and situation that allows continuation of stay. On expiry of the period of stay, proceedings can commence unless the order of extension of stay is produced.
The Bench concluded that in a rarest of the rare case only the extension may be granted. Even after stay is granted, the matter must be decided on day-to-day basis, so that stay can come to an end. The Court also take note of the fact that though no mandatory timeline can be fixed, the decision of a Court may not exceed two-three months normally.