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SUPREME COURT FIXES SIX MONTHS AS LIMITATION PERIOD ON STAY OF TRIAL PROCEEDINGS


The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in a very significant judgment has ruled that stay of proceedings in a pending trial, whether civil or criminal, will automatically lapse after six months from the date of grant of stay order unless extended, in an exceptional circumstance, by a speaking order.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court comes up with this significant direction in a judgment, dated March 28, 2018, arising out of Prevention of Corruption Act, in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. Versus Central Bureau of Investigation, by a bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Navin Sinha. The said judgment was concurred by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman in a separate but concurring judgment.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court with an objective of remedying the situation of proceedings remaining pending for long on account of stay considered it appropriate to direct 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. 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 Hon’ble Court observed that the mandate of speedy justice applies to all 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 and directed that in all pending matters before the High Courts or other courts, where stay of proceedings in a pending trial is operating, stay will automatically lapse after six months from the date of the judgment unless extended by a speaking order. The Hon’ble Supreme Court further held that: “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 timeline fixed by the Hon’ble Court is applicable to all trial proceedings, for both, pending and future matters.
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