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Supreme Court Overturns Verdict on Stay Order

Why is it in the news?

  • The Supreme Court overturned its 2018 decision in the Asian Resurfacing case, citing lack of authority to impose a six-month time limit for lifting stay orders.

·       In 2018, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, addressed cases concerning the Prevention of Corruption Act. These cases involved stays granted by various High Courts during trial proceedings.

·       Stay orders, a common legal mechanism, temporarily suspend legal proceedings, offering protection to parties involved. However, they inevitably postpone trials, regardless of the parties’ interests.


Ruling in the Asian Resurfacing Case, 2018

·       The Supreme Court ruled that interim stay orders issued by High Courts and Civil Courts would only be valid for a maximum of six months. After this period, they would automatically be lifted.

·       This ruling aimed to address the issue of prolonged delays in criminal trials, ensuring that cases proceeded swiftly.


Impact of the 2018 Decision

·       The ruling prompted several questions regarding the extent of the Supreme Court’s authority under Article 142 of the Constitution. Specifically, whether it could mandate the automatic removal of interim orders or direct High Courts to resolve pending cases within specific timeframes.

·       This decision raised concerns about judicial overreach and the separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature.



Reasons for Reversal

  • Lack of Authority to Set Timeline: The recent reversal highlighted that the 2018 bench exceeded its authority by establishing a fixed deadline for lifting stay orders.
  • Potential Injustice: Automatically lifting stay orders after six months could lead to injustice by disregarding legally issued interim orders, potentially affecting the rights of the parties involved.
  • Legislative Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court emphasized that setting time limits for case resolution falls within the legislative domain, and creating such laws from the bench is impermissible. Only the legislature has the authority to determine statutory limitations on legal proceedings.

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