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Stay orders by HCs, lower courts expire in 6 months, unless extended: SC

Stay orders passed by high courts and subordinate courts expire in six months, unless extended for good reasons, the Supreme Court has ruled.

“Whatever stay has been granted by any court, including the High Court, automatically expires within a period of six months, and unless extension is granted for good reason, as per our judgment, within the next six months, the trial Court is, on the expiry of the first period of six months, to set a date for the trial and go ahead with the same,” a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman said.

Earlier, in 2013 the Supreme Court had said, “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.”

It had said, “The speaking order must show that the case was of such exceptional nature that continuing the stay was more important than having the trial finalised. 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 latest order came in a case from Pune wherein an Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate had in December last year asked a complainant to approach the Bombay High Court for resumption of trial that had been stayed by the high court.

“We must remind the Magistrates all over the country that in our pyramidical structure under the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court is at the Apex, and the High Courts, though not subordinate administratively, are certainly subordinate judicially. This kind of orders fly in the face of…our judgment,” the top court said, adding the courts below across India must follow its order in “letter and spirit”.