1. This is an application asking this Court to stay further proceedings in a suit pending in the Court of the Second Additional Subordinate Judge of Cawnpore until the decision of certain lunacy proceedings pending in the Court of the District Judge of Mainpuri. The plaintiff Harnand Lal sued Chaturbhuj (to whom we will refer in this judgment as Chaturbhuj defendant in distinction from his son-in-law to whom we will refer as Chaturbhuj junior) for specific performance of a contract. Cbaturbhuj junior applied to the Subordinate Judge under Order 32, Rule 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure praying for a guardian-ad-litem to be appointed for Chaturbhuj defendant, on the ground that the latter was of weak mind. Some evidence was taken, when on the 4th of September 1925 the vakil of Chaturbhuj defendant informed the Court that luancy proceedings were going on in the Court of the District Judge of Mainpuri in reference to the mental condition of the defendant. A week later the plaintiff asked the Subordinate Judge to adjourn the proceedings in his Court until a decision in the lunacy proceedings had been arrived at. This application was refused and it is to set aside that refusal that this application has been made. Subsequent to the Subordinate Judge's refusal the plaintiff successfully applied to the District Judge of Mainpuri to be made a party to the lunacy proceeding. The learned Judge in refusing the application for stay of the proceedings before him said: 'There is no doubt that if that Court decides that the defendant is a lunatic then this Court will be bound by that order; but even if the application under the Lunacy Act is for some reason disallowed then still this Court will have to decide whether the defendant, on account of mental infirmity, is unable to protect his own interests. I have already recorded part of the evidence and so I think the matter should be decided so far as the present suit is concerned.'
2. It is of course obvious that if the District Judge finds Chaturbhuj defendant to be of sound mind for the purposes of the proceedings before him the learned Subordinate Judge will have in that case to proceed with and finally determine the question of the mental fitness of the defendant within the meaning of Order 32, Rule 15. It is equally obvious that if the District Judge finds the defendant to be a lunatic that finding will conclude the question at present pending before the Subordinate Judge. Counsel for Chaturbhuj junior before us is unable to suggest any prejudice whatever that his client or Chaturbhuj defendant will suffer by a stay of the proceedings in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, even if eventually the lunacy of the defendant be not established in the Court of the District Judge. There should at the most be a very brief delay while the Subordinate Judge completes the enquiry necessary for the proceedings before him. On the other hand it is manifest that to continue the proceedings before the Subordinate Judge when the result of the proceedings before the District Judge may show them to have been already unnecessary, is most undesirable. Such a course would manifestly infringe the principle that this Court and every other Court should avoid as far as possible multiplicity of proceedings in the same matter. It is further pertinently urged on behalf of the plaintiff before us that the evidence which he will require So produce before the Subordinate Judge and before the District Judge is practically the same and that it is impossible for him to be taking his witnesses backwards and forwards to two different Courts in the same matter. We think that these facts only require to be stated to indicate forcibly that it is desirable that the proceedings in the Court of the Subordinate Judge should be stayed.
3. The only question that it has been possible for counsel for the opposite party here to seriously urge is that this Court has no power to stay the proceedings. The plaintiff applicant here did not justify his right to apply to this Court by a reference to any enactment in the title of his application. It has since been entitled as an application under Section 115, Civil P.C., in response, as we are informed by counsel for the applicant, to a suggestion from the learned Judge before whom this case first came. For the opposite party it is contended that the case is not one in which this Court can interfere on the revisional side under Section 115 and he relies on the decision of the Full Bench in Budhoo Lal v. Mewa Ram AIR 1921 All 1. We think that this contention, in the particular circumstances in which this order of refusal to stay was passed, must be accepted. Counsel for the plaintiff-applicant then fell back on the provisions of Section 151, Civil P.C., and of Section 107 of the Government of India Act. In the view that we take it will be unnecessary for us to consider the latter section.
4. It is a common practice to speak of 'the power given to the Court by Section 151 to make orders, etc.' It is clear however that Section 151 gives no powers whatever. It merely saves such inherent power as the Court may already have from being limited or otherwise affected by the Code. When therefore a Court interferes in response to prayer such as that now in its present form before us, it exercises the inherent power already possessed by it and does not in any sense exercise a power conferred by Section 151. This is no mere verbal distinction, for it means that Section 151 gives no power whatever to the Court to pass an order which it may deem to be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court. Any power that this Court may have must be sought for elsewhere than in Section 151.
5. It has been urged by the opposite party that 'the power given by Section 151 of correcting an order is limited to a Court correcting its own orders.' We have already pointed out that Section 151 confers no powers whatever. In the second place even if it did so, it would be impossible to accept the argument for the opposite party that a subordinate Court could in given circumstances exercise inherent powers in reference to an order of its own but that its superior Court could not in the event of the subordinate Court refusing to do so give the necessary redress. Such a proposition is not even stateable. It is moreover apparent that in the great majority of cases in which it has been held that there was inherent power in the Court to redress an injustice, the injury has been done by an order of a subordinate Court and the inherent power to redress it exercised by a superior Court. The duty of a subordinate Court and the duty of a superior Court to do justice is one and indivisible and Courts cannot be divorced from each other, Alexander Rodger v. The Comptoir D' Escompte De Paris (1871) LR 3 PC 465. See also Debi Baksh Singh v. Habib (1913) 35 All 331, where the Privy Council referred to an order of the lower appellate Court in India as an abuse of process committed by that Court and gave redress in the exercise of inherent powers. On this point it is unnecessary to quote further authority.
6. As to the extent of the inherent power existing in 'the Court,' Section 151 only indicates that there is a power 'to make such orders as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the Court'. The principles controlling the exercise of this inherent power have bean the subject of many judicial decisions. Contention such as there has been, has chiefly revolved round the question how far there is inherent power in the Court to override an express statutory declaration in circumstances indicating the desirability of such a course in the interests of justice. With that question we are not concerned in this case. The order staying the proceedings in the Court of the Subordinate Judge in one which, if we make it, cannot in any way be said to be in conflict with any statutory provision. We are here merely asked to control, in the interests of justice and in order to prevent an abuse of the process of the Court, the procedure of the subordinate Court in circumstances for which the Legislature has made no provision. In this we may agree and do agree with the remark of Stuart, J., in Joshi Shib Prakash v. Jhinguria AIR 1924 All 446 that the 'enactment of this section, Section 151, declared the existence of an inherent jurisdiction in all Courts to go beyond the law of procedure in the ends of justice' without its being necessary for us to express concurrence in or dissent from the further observations of the learned Judge in that case. In Balgobind v. Sheo Kumar AIR 1924 All 818, Walsh and Ryves, JJ., held at page 876 that an abuse of the process of the Court' includes 'the idle multiplicity of proceedings' and of this we think there can be no doubt. We, therefore, hold that we have power to interfere in the exercise of this Court's inherent powers, and we think further that the circumstances of the case indicate beyond any doubt that it is a suitable case for the exercise of those inherent powers. It is clear that they are powers that must be sparingly exercised, but in a suitable case it is the duty of the Court to exercise them. We therefore, accede to the application made to us and direct that the proceedings in the Court of the Subordinate Judge under Order 32, Rule 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure be stayed until such time as the proceedings in lunacy in the Court of the District Judge of Mainpuri have been determined.