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Above: Supreme Court

Court stay orders have become the new denial of justice for those who can ill afford long delays and repeated journeys to courts. Events patently illegal events can keep on happening despite major cases against them, if they can avail of a stay order, which, if not vacated by the court, stays in effect.

That anomaly has been addressed by the Supreme Court. On Wednesday (March 28) the apex court attached a six-month use-by date to stay orders. Unless a further stay order is availed of, it will expire at the end of six months.

The basis of the order by the three-judge bench of the top court was a 2016 law ministry study which revealed that stay orders can and have held up cases by over six years in some cases. With the pendency in courts at shameful levels the court also said that an extension of a stay order will have to be accompanied a detailed reason by the judge as to why he allowed it.

This simple ruling by the top court immediately opens up the opportunity for thousands of litigants who have been caught in the mesh of unending stays and resultant delays, with their faith in the judicial process of India slowly eroding.

The significance of the order is evident in the fact that cases will automatically restart after the stay lapses. If in exceptional cases, if a judge thinks that the stay order should stay for longer, the judge will have to give a written order on this.

The bench observed, say reports: “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 bench has said that the order of the bench on stays will have to be sent to all high courts for compliance.

—India Legal Bureau

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