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Stay orders in civil or criminal cases end after 6 months: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday in an important decision set to have a far-reaching impact on thousands of cases pending in various courts, held that the stay of trial court proceedings, both in civil and criminal cases, would come to an end after the expiry of six months from the date of grant of stay, unless extended by a speaking order that explain the need for the stay order in exceptional circumstances that continuing the stay was more important than having the trial finalised.

Even where such a 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 and defeat the very purpose of the order.

The issue came up during the hearing of an appeal against a Delhi High Court order in an issue relating to Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against some officials of the Delhi Municipal Corporation which also posed a question of law as to whether a high court had the jurisdiction to entertain such an appeal against an order framing charges by a trial court.

The order was passed by a three-judge bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, R F Nariman and Navin Sinha, which held that the legislative mandate of expeditious disposal of a trial should be respected.

The Supreme Court asked the High Courts to entertain such review petition in consistency with the legislative policy to ensure expeditious disposal of a trial without the same being hampered in any manner. The Supreme Court also said where the high court entertains challenge to an order framing charge, decision of such a petition should not be delayed unnecessarily with any justified reason.

The Supreme Court while cautioning also held 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 re-appreciate the matter over and over again.

Though no mandatory time limit may be fixed, the court held that the decision should not exceed two-three months in normal circumstances.

Shree Devi Dayal Prasad, retired District Judge and practising Advocate at Patna High Court welcomed this order of the Apex court and said ” In addition to this order, the Court should also frame time limit for completion of cases so as to render the quick justice so that justice is not delayed”.

Read the judgment below:

27580_2011_Judgement_28-Mar-2018-watermark

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