In this Landmark judgment, 3-judge bench held as follows,
35. In view of above, situation of proceedings remaining pending for long on account of stay needs to be remedied. Remedy is required not only for corruption cases but for all civil and criminal cases where on account of stay, civil and criminal proceedings are held up. At times, proceedings are adjourned sine die on account of stay. Even after stay is vacated, intimation is not received and proceedings are not taken up. In an attempt to remedy this, situation, we consider it appropriate to direct that in all pending cases where stay against proceedings of a civil or criminal trial is operating, the same will come to an end on expiry of six months from today unless in an exceptional case by a speaking order such stay is extended. 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 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.
36. Thus, we declare the law to be that order framing charge is not purely an interlocutory order nor a final order. Jurisdiction of the High Court is not barred irrespective of the label of a petition, be it under Sections 397 or 482 Cr.P.C. or Article 227 of the Constitution. However, the said jurisdiction is to be exercised consistent with the legislative policy to ensure expeditious disposal of a trial without the same being in any manner hampered. Thus considered, the challenge to an order of charge should be entertained in a rarest of rare case only to correct a patent error of jurisdiction and not to re-appreciate the matter. Even where such challenge is entertained and stay is granted, the matter must be decided on day-to-day basis so that stay does not operate for an unduly long period. Though no mandatory time limit may be fixed, the decision may not exceed two-three months normally. If it remains pending longer, duration of stay should not exceed six months, unless extension is granted by a specific speaking order, as already indicated. Mandate of speedy justice applies to the PC Act cases as well as other cases where at trial stage proceedings are stayed by the higher court i.e. the High Court or a court below the High Court, as the case may be. In all pending matters before the High Courts or other courts relating to PC Act or all other civil or criminal cases, where stay of proceedings in a pending trial is operating, stay will automatically lapse after six months from today unless extended by a speaking order on above parameters. Same course may also be adopted by civil and criminal appellate/revisional courts under the jurisdiction of the High Courts. The trial courts may, on expiry of above period, resume the proceedings without waiting for any other intimation unless express order extending stay is produced.
37. The High Courts may also issue instructions to this effect and monitor the same so that civil or criminal proceedings do not remain pending for unduly period at the trial stage.
R.F. Nariman concurs and holds,
Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency and Anr Vs CBI on 28 March 2018
5. On a reference made to a 2-Judge Bench in the Delhi High Court, the learned Chief Justice framed, what he described as, “three facets which emanate for consideration”, as follows:
“(a) Whether an order framing charge under the 1988 Act would be treated as an interlocutory order thereby barring the exercise of revisional power of this Court?
(b) Whether the language employed in Section 19 of the 1988 Act which bars the revision would also bar the exercise of power under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. for all purposes?
(c) Whether the order framing charge can be assailed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India?”
Answers given to the “three facets” are in paragraph 33 as follows:
“33. In view of our aforesaid discussion, we proceed to answer the reference on following terms:
(a) An order framing charge under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is an interlocutory order.
(b) As Section 19(3)(c) clearly bars revision against an interlocutory order and framing of charge being an interlocutory order a revision will not be
(c) A petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and a writ petition preferred under Article 227 of the Constitution of India are
(d) Even if a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or a writ petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India is entertained by the High Court under no circumstances an order of stay should be passed regard being had to the prohibition contained in Section 19(3)(c) of the 1988 Act.
(e) The exercise of power either under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or under Article 227 of the Constitution of India should be sparingly and in exceptional circumstances be exercised keeping in view the law laid down in Siya Ram Singh (supra), Vishesh Kumar (supra), Khalil
Ahmed Bashir Ahmed (supra), Kamal Nath & Others (supra) Ranjeet Singh (supra) and similar line of decisions in the field.
(f) It is settled law that jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or under Article 227 of the Constitution of India cannot
be exercised as a “cloak of an appeal in disguise” or to re- appreciate evidence. The aforesaid proceedings should be used sparingly with great
care, caution, circumspection and only to prevent grave miscarriage of justice.”
Another 3-judge bench, again in Oct 2020, had to reiterate the position on the 6-months limit imposed by Supreme Courts, on all stays granted in Civil and Criminal Cases.
Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency and Anr Vs CBI on 15 Oct 2020
Citations: [2018 ILR KER 2 79], [2018 KHC 2 380], [2018 RCR CRIMINAL 2 415], [2018 SCALE 5 269],
Other Source links: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/172610348/ or https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5abbcd474a93267cfe9ebef0
Earlier Delhi High Court order (by Shiv Narayan Dhingra ji): https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/58117f222713e179478f3bf5