In a very significant judgment, Supreme Court has held that stay of proceedings in a pending trial, whether of civil nature or criminal nature, will automatically tumble down after six months unless it has been extended by speaking order.
The three-judge bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, Navin Sinha, and R F Nariman laid down the time constraint for the stay of proceedings, saying the legislative mandate of expeditious disposal of a trial should be respected. This noteworthy direction came as part of a judgment dealing with an issue relating to Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on a question of law as to whether a high court has the jurisdiction to entertain an appeal against an order regarding the framing of charges by the trial court.
It has been observed by the Honorable bench that, It is well accepted that delay in a criminal trial, particularly in the Prevention of Corruption Act cases, has a deleterious effect on the administration of justice in which the society has a vital interest. Delay in trials affects the faith in Rule of Law and efficacy of the legal system. It affects social welfare and development. Even in civil or tax cases, it has been laid down that power to grant stay has to be exercised with restraint. Mere prima facie case is not enough. Party seeking stay must be put to terms and stay should not be incentive to delay. The order granting stay must show application of mind. The power to grant stay is coupled with accountability”.