1. This is a revision petition preferred by. the petitioners-accused against the order of the learned Second Magisirate, Bangalore, dismissing their application filed under Section 344 Cr. P. C. for stay of proceedings pending against them in C. C. No. 973 of 1956, pending disposal of O. S. No. 261/56 on the file of the second Munsiff, Bangalore.
2. The facts that have given rise to this petition are briefly as follows:
3. The respondent-complainant preferred a complaint against these petitioners-accused before the learned Second Magistrate, Bangalore, alleging that he has been in possession of the schedule land, that the accused trespassed into it on 2-6-56 and obstructed him from ploughing the land, that they further assaulted him and that they thereby committed offences under Sections 447. 341 and 352 I. P. C. After the petitioners-accused appeared before Court, they filed an application under Section 344 of the Criminal Procedure Code for stay of proceedings in that criminal case pending disposal of a civil suit instituted by the respondent-plaintiff in the Court of the learned Second Munsiff. Bangalore, in O. S. No. .261/56. The grounds alleged by the petitioners in support of that application are that they have been in possession of the schedule land, that the complaint is false. that the question as tip who is in possession is also involved in O. S. No. 261/56 on the file of the Second Munsiff, Bangalore, that it would be more appropriate that this question of possession -is gone into in the civil suit, that if the, proceedings in both the Courts are allowed to continue, they (petitioners-accused) will highly be prejudiced and that therefore, the proceedings in the criminal case may be stayed pending disposal of the suit in the civil Court. The learned Magistrate dismissed that application and against that order, this revision petition is filed.
4. I am of opinion that there arc not sufficient grounds to grant the prayer of the petitioners. At the outset, it has to be pointed out that the policy of criminal law is to bring an accused to justice as speedily as possible so that if found guilty he may be punished, and if innocent he may be left off as early as possible. Stay of criminal proceedings can be allowed only on special and justifiable grounds. I do not find any such grounds or circumstances in this case. In this connection, I can do nothing better than reproduce a passage from a decision of the Supreme Court renorted in M. S. Sheriff v. State of Madras, : 1SCR1144 (A). Their Lordships of the Supreme Court have laid down therein the principles governing the stay of proceedings in a criminal case. That passage runs thus :
'As between the civil and the criminal proceedings, the criminal matters should be given precedence..... No hard and fast rule can be laid down but the possibility of conflicting decisions in the civil and the criminal Courts is not a relevant consideration. The law envisages such an eventuality when it expressly refrains from making the decision of one Court binding on the other or even relevant except for certain limited purposes such as sentence or damages. The only relevant consideration is the likelihood of embarrassment Another factor which weighs with Court is that a civil suit often drags on for years and it is undesirable that a criminal prosecution should be postponed till everybody concerned has forgotten all about the crime. The public interests demand that criminal justice should be swift and sure, that the guilty should be punished while the events are still fresh in the public minds and the innocent should be absolved as early as is consistent with a fair and impartial trial.'
5. in this case, the complaint was instituted earlier than the civil suit. The mere fact that the question of possession can more appropriately be dealt with in the civil suit or that there would be a possibility of conflicting decisions is not. In my opinion, quite a relevant factor to be taken into consideration in deciding whether the proceedings in the criminal case can be stayed. No hard and fast rule can be laid as to the circumstances under which a stay in the criminal case has to be ordered. Every case has to be judged on its own merits, in this case, the offence complained of is not merely one of trespass but the complaint includes offences under Sections 341 and 352 also. The finding in the civil Court as to who is in possession will not finally dispose of the criminal case. Under such circurrstances, it is not expedient to stay criminal proceedings.
6. The power given to the Court under Section 344 of the Criminal Procedure Code is entirely discretionary which discretion is to be exercised judicially according to the circumstances of each case. The learned Magistrate h:is exercised the discretion in a particular way holding that there are not sufficient grounds to adjourn the criminal proceedings. It cannot be said that the discretion exercised by the learned Magistrate is not proper. I do not know how the petitioners would be prejudiced or embarrassed if both the criminal and the civil cases are proceeded with simultaneously. On the other hand, the pendency of the civil case may be a factor in favour of the petitioners in the criminal ease. Under these circumstances. I am of opinion that the order of the learned Magistrate has to be affirmed.
7. in the result, the order of the learnedMagistrate is confirmed and this revision petitionstands dismissed.
8. Revision dismissed.