Read Order: COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION v. STATE OF PUNJAB AND OTHERS 

LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 20, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed its Registrar General to examine whether the Supreme Court’s directions on speedy trials in cases registered against MPs and MLAs are being complied with by all concerned.

While the suo motu matter was being heard by a bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh, Amicus Curiae Rupinder Khosla referred to the relevant part of the High Court order dated 10.9.2020 in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. CBI, which held that if stay is granted, it should not normally be unconditional or of indefinite duration. Appropriate conditions may be imposed so that the party in whose favour the stay is granted is accountable if court finally finds no merit in the matter and the other side suffers loss and injustice.

Khosla further apprised the court that to give effect to the legislative policy and the mandate of Article 21 for speedy justice in criminal cases, if stay is granted, matter should be taken on a day-to-day basis and concluded within two-three months. 

“Where the matter remains pending for a longer period, the order of stay will stand vacated on expiry of six months, unless extension is granted by a speaking order showing extraordinary situation where continuing stay was to be preferred to the final disposal of trial by the trial Court. This timeline is being fixed in view of the fact that such trials are expected to be concluded normally in one to two years,” the amicus curiae submitted.

Hearing the matter, the high court stated that in view of the law laid down in the aforesaid case, trial courts proceed with the trial notwithstanding any stay granted by the High Court unless fresh order is passed extending the stay by recording reasons.

“In the alternative, Registrar Generals may be directed to place the matters involving MPs and MLAs before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for appropriate orders for urgent listing of such cases,” stated the bench.

Meanwhile, during the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor for the CBI drew attention of the High Court to the subsequent order dated 16.9.2020 passed by the Supreme Court, which directed the Chief Justices of all the High Courts to list forthwith all pending criminal cases involving sitting/former legislators (MPs and MLAs) particularly those wherein a stay has been granted, before an appropriate bench comprising of the Chief Justice and/or their designates.

Passing the order, the bench stated that the Court must first decide whether the stay granted, if any, should continue, keeping in view the principles regarding the grant of stay enshrined in the judgment of the Court in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Private Limited v. CBI.

“In the event that a stay is considered necessary, the Court should hear the matter on a day-to-day basis and dispose of the same expeditiously, preferably within a period of two months, without any unnecessary adjournment. It goes without saying that the Covid-19 condition should not be an impediment to the compliance of this direction, as these matters could be conveniently heard through video conferencing,” stated the bench.

“Registrar (General) will examine the order passed today by this Court and report whether all the concerned are abiding by the directions given by Hon’ble Supreme Court in letter and spirit,” added the bench.

The HC further said the Additional Solicitor General of India has pointed out that he has received information from CBDT about pendency of one case against political person pending before CJM, Ludhiana at the pre-summoning evidence. “He submits that he shall furnish details thereof by way of an affidavit within 3 days from today,” the HC said.

The Supreme Court had, among other things, directed that the court must hear cases where stay was considered necessary on a day-to-day basis before disposing of the matter expeditiously.

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