Validity of Automatic Vacation of Stay Orders

High Court Bar Association Allahabad v The State of Uttar Pradesh

Citation: 2024 INSC 150

The Court decided that Constitutional Courts should not typically impose a time limit to dispose a case pending in any Court. A stay order granted in civil and criminal cases will remain in operation till the case is decided, unless it is expressly timebound.


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Appellant: High Court Bar Association Allahabad

Lawyers: Mr. Rakesh Dwivedi, Sr. Adv.; Mr. Vk Shukla, Sr. Adv.; Mr. Kavin Gulati, Sr. Adv

Respondent: The State Of Uttar Pradesh

Lawyers: Mr. Tushar Mehta, SG; Mr. Ajay Kumar Misra, Adv.Gen., Sr. Adv.; Mr. Tanmaya Agarwal, AOR; Mr. Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki, AOR

Case Details

Case Number: Crl. A No. 3589/2023

Next Hearing:

Last Updated: February 29, 2024

Key Issues


Can the Court order the automatic vacation of all interim orders of High Courts on staying criminal and civil cases after a certain period of time?


Whether the Supreme Court can direct High Courts to decide pending cases where interim orders of stay has been granted within a fixed period?

Case Description

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt Ltd and Another v Central Bureau of Investigation (2018) ruled that in all pending cases where a stay order is operating against civil and criminal trial proceedings, the stay would be automatically vacated at the end of six months unless it is extended by a speaking order. The judgement also had a prospective application, which meant that all the future stay orders granted by the court would also have a deadline of six months. The Court ruled that to extend a stay, the party seeking it should show that the case was of such an exceptional nature that continuing the stay was more important than finalising the trial. 

However, on 1 December 2023, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra expressed reservations about the conclusions in Asian Resurfacing. It referred it to a five-judge Constitution Bench for reconsideration. 

On 13 December 2023, a Constitution Bench of the Court heard unopposed arguments against the Asian Resurfacing judgement for a day. During the arguments, Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi informed the Bench that the primary issue in Asian Resurfacing concerned the nature of interim orders and whether they were amenable to challenge before the High Court’. Despite this, the Bench ruled on the automatic vacation of stay. 

During the hearing, CJI D. Y Chandrachud observed two issues that arose out of the 2018 judgement. First, it prejudiced the litigant irrespective of their conduct. In Asian Resurfacing, the Court had ruled for a vacation of stays in an attempt to reduce the delays in court trial. However, the Bench noted that delays in the court proceedings are not always in the control of the parties and that delays may be due to the sheer volume of cases that often make it impossible for the court to deal with them promptly. And so, an automatic vacation of stay will not be fair on the litigants, the Court observed. The Court also noted that the vacation of stay order is a judicial act and not an administrative act.  

After one day of arguments on 13 December 2023, the Bench reserved judgement in the case. On 29 February 2024, the Court delivered judgement, and declared that a stay order granted in civil and criminal cases will remain in operation till the case is decided, unless it is expressly timebound. Justice A.S. Oka wrote the majority opinion, with a concurring opinion by Justice Pankaj Mithal.