High Court Bar Association Allahabad vs State Of Uttar Pradesh 2024 INSC 150- Automatic Vacation Of Stay Directions Issued In Asian Resurfacing Judgment Overruled

Summary: Automatic Vacation of Stay Orders Direction in Asian Resurfacing Of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. vs CBI [2018] 2 S.C.R. 1045 Overruled – A direction that all the interim orders of stay of proceedings passed by every High Court automatically expire only by reason of lapse of time cannot be issued in the exercise of the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution of India- in the cases in which trials have been concluded as a result of the automatic vacation of stay based only on the decision in the case of Asian Resurfacing1, the orders of automatic vacation of stay shall remain valid- the directions of the Court that provide for automatic vacation of the order of stay and the disposal of all cases in which a stay has been granted on a day-to-day basis virtually amount to judicial legislation. The jurisdiction of this Court cannot be exercised to make such a judicial legislation. Only the legislature can provide that cases of a particular category should be decided within a specific time – By a blanket direction in the exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, Court cannot interfere with the jurisdiction conferred on the High Court of granting interim relief by limiting its jurisdiction to pass interim orders valid only for six months at a time. Putting such constraints on the power of the High Court will also amount to making a dent on the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution, which is an essential feature that forms part of the basic structure of the Constitution. (Para 24, 37-38, 28)

Constitution of India, 1950; Article 142 -Important parameters for the exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India which are relevant for deciding the reference are as follows: (i) The jurisdiction can be exercised to do complete justice between the parties before the Court. It cannot be exercised to nullify the benefits derived by a large number of litigants based on judicial orders validly passed in their favour who are not parties to the proceedings before this Court; (ii) Article 142 does not empower this Court to ignore the substantive rights of the litigants; (iii) While exercising the jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, this Court can always issue procedural directions to the Courts for streamlining procedural aspects and ironing out the creases in the procedural laws to ensure expeditious and timely disposal of cases. However, while doing so, this Court cannot affect the substantive rights of those litigants who are not parties to the case before it. The right to be heard before an adverse order is passed is not a matter of procedure but a substantive right; and (iv) The power of this Court under Article 142 cannot be exercised to defeat the principles of natural justice, which are an integral part of our jurisprudence- (Para 37)

Interim Relief – The High Courts are always empowered to vacate or modify an order of interim relief passed after hearing the parties on the following, amongst other grounds: – (a)If a litigant, after getting an order of stay, deliberately prolongs the proceedings either by seeking adjournments on unwarranted grounds or by remaining absent when the main case in which interim relief is granted is called out for hearing before the High Court with the object of taking undue advantage of the order of stay; (b)The High Court finds that the order of interim relief is granted as a result of either suppression or misrepresentation of material facts by the party in whose favour the interim order of stay has been made; and (c) The High Court finds that there is a material change in circumstances requiring interference with the interim order passed earlier. In a given case, a long passage of ime may bring about a material change in circumstances. These grounds are not exhaustive. There can be other valid grounds for vacating an order of stay – Guidelines for dealing with the prayers for the grant of interim relief, the High Courts -To avoid any prejudice to the opposite parties, while granting ex-parte ad-interim relief without hearing the affected parties, the High Courts should normally grant ad-interim relief for a limited duration. After hearing the contesting parties, the Court may or may not confirm the earlier ad-interim order. Ad-interim relief, once granted, can be vacated or affirmed only after application of mind by the concerned Court. Hence, the Courts must give necessary priority to the hearing of the prayer for interim relief where ad-interim relief has been granted. Though the High Court is not expected to record detailed reasons while dealing with the prayer for the grant of stay or interim relief, the order must give sufficient indication of the application of mind to the relevant factors.- An interim order passed after hearing the contesting parties cannot be vacated by the High Court without giving sufficient opportunity of being heard to the party whose prayer for interim relief has been granted. Even if interim relief is granted after hearing both sides, the aggrieved party is not precluded from applying for vacating the same on the available grounds. In such a case, the High Court must give necessary priority to the hearing of applications for vacating the stay, if the main case cannot be immediately taken up for hearing. Applications for vacating interim reliefs cannot be kept pending for an inordinately long time. The High Courts cannot take recourse to the easy option of directing that the same should be heard along with the main case. The same principles will apply where ad-interim relief is granted. If an ad-interim order continues for a long time, the affected party can always apply for vacating ad-interim relief. The High Court is expected to take up even such applications on a priority basis. If an application for vacating ex-parte ad interim relief is filed on the ground of suppression of facts, the same must be taken up at the earliest. (Para 15,34-35, 37)

Ad Interim Orders -When a High Court grants a stay of the proceedings while issuing notice without giving an opportunity of being heard to the contesting parties, it is not an interim order, but it is an ad-interim order of stay. It can be converted into an interim order of stay only after an opportunity of being heard is granted on the prayer for interim relief to all the parties to the proceedings. Ad-interim orders, by their very nature, should be of a limited duration.

Practice and Procedure – Constitutional Courts, in the ordinary course, should refrain from fixing a time-bound schedule for the disposal of cases pending before any other Courts. Constitutional Courts may issue directions for the time-bound disposal of cases only in exceptional circumstances. The issue of prioritising the disposal of cases should be best left to the decision of the concerned Courts where the cases are pending. (Para 37)

Constitution of India, 1950; Article 226(3) – Clause (3) of Article 226 is applicable only when an interim relief is granted without furnishing a copy of the writ petition along with supporting documents to the opposite party and without hearing the opposite party. Even assuming that clause (3) is not directory, it provides for an automatic vacation of interim relief only if the aggrieved party makes an application for vacating the interim relief and when the application for vacating stay is not heard within the time specified. Clause (3) will not apply when an interim order in a writ petition under Article 226 is passed after the service of a copy of the writ petition on all concerned parties and after giving them an opportunity of being heard. It applies only to ex-parte ad interim orders. (Para 26)

Legal Maxim – “Actus curiae neminem gravabit””- No litigant should be allowed to suffer due to the fault of the Court. If that happens, it is the bounden duty of the Court to rectify its mistake. (Para 16)

High Court– High Court is also a constitutional Court. It is well settled that it is not judicially subordinate to Supreme Court – A High Court is constitutionally independent of the Supreme Court of India and is not subordinate to this Court. (Para 23)

Constitution of India, 1950; Article 227 – The power of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution to have judicial superintendence over all the Courts within its jurisdiction will include the power to stay the proceedings before such Courts. (Para 24)

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