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Judiciary

‘Automatic vacation of stay prejudices the litigant’, SC reserves verdict on reconsidering Asian Resurfacing case

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      14 December, 2023 10:50 AM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its orders on a plea seeking reconsideration of its 2018 judgment, which mandated for the automatic vacation of stay in all civil and criminal matters after six months.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices Abhay S Oka, J B Pardiwala, Pankaj Mithal and Manoj Misra, pointed out that two problems arose 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.

In 2018 judgment, the 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 court concluded the hearing on the issue after senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, for the High Court Bar Association of Allahabad, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and other lawyers advanced their arguments.

Dwivedi submitted the mechanism could interfere with the constitutional structure, particularly Article 226 of the Constitution, and may be seen as judicial legislation.

He favoured for creating separate benches to consider extensions, while citing the importance of a nuanced approach to different case types.

Dwivedi also referred to delay in court proceedings, specifically in certain High Courts such as the Allahabad High Court and the Patna High Court.

The bench said that is also what could have weighed with the judges, otherwise, stay just continued for decades, particularly in larger high courts.

Dwivedi submitted that delays in legal proceedings are often exacerbated when accused individuals secure interim orders, taking advantage of the situation.

The bench found that the issue stemmed not because of fault of individual judges but it is a consequence of the sheer volume of cases, making it practically impossible to address every matter on the docket promptly.

Mehta referred to instances where contempt cases were filed against judges, for not resuming trials on the strength of Asian Resurfacing, particularly in states like Punjab and Haryana.

He agreed with Dwivedi and said the judicial discretion of high courts cannot be curtailed by a “judicial mandamus or a continuing mandamus”.

On December 1, the Supreme Court 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 principle which has been laid down in the decision is liable to result in a serious miscarriage of justice,” the court had then said.



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