Supreme Court overturns its verdict on Stay Order

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Source-This post on Supreme Court overturns its verdict on Stay Order is based on the article “Why the Supreme Court overturned its 2018 decision, which set a time limit on courts’ stay orders” published in “The Indian Express” on 1st March 2024.

Why in the News?

The Supreme Court recently overturned its decision in the Asian Resurfacing case. The Court stated that a Supreme Court bench in 2018 did not have the authority to establish a six-month time limit for lifting stay orders.

What did the 2018 bench rule in the Asian Resurfacing case?

Supreme court overruled its stay order decision
Source- Hindustan Times

Background:
a. In 2018, a three-judge bench comprising Justices Adarsh Goel, Navin Sinha and Rohinton Nariman were deciding a batch of cases involving the Prevention of Corruption Act.
b. These cases had one thing in common: the respective High Courts had granted a stay at some point during the trial.
c. Stay orders are issued by courts to temporarily halt legal proceedings, protecting citizens’ rights. A stay always postpones the trial, regardless of who benefits from it.

SC 2018 ruling in Asian Resurfacing case– To tackle the significant issue of delays in criminal trials, the Supreme Court ruled that interim stay orders from High Courts and Civil Courts will only last for six months. At the conclusion of this duration, they will be automatically revoked or “lifted”.

Impact of 2018 ruling

This decision raised several questions as follows:

Question 1– Can the Supreme Court, under Article 142 of the Constitution (which empowers it to pass any order to ensure “complete justice”), order the automatic removal of all interim orders from High Courts that suspend proceedings of civil and criminal cases after a certain period has expired?

Question 2- Can the Supreme Court, under Article 142 of the Constitution, instruct the High Courts to resolve pending cases where interim stay orders on proceedings have been issued, on a daily basis and within a set timeframe?

Why was the 2018 ruling reversed?

1. Lacked authority to set a timeline– The court ruled that the Asian Resurfacing bench lacked the authority to establish a six-month deadline for lifting stay orders.

2. Defeat justice– The court stated that automatically lifting a stay order after six months would actually “defeat justice” by invalidating interim orders that had been legally issued without hearing the parties.

3. Only legislature have the power– The court mentioned that the six-month limit would be like creating laws from the bench, which is not allowed. Only the legislature can determine if certain cases should be resolved within a set period.

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