1. In a civil suit a document filed by the petitioners was found a forgery, and proceedings have been taken against them under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The petitioners have filed an appeal against the decree passed against them in the civil suit in which the main question for determination is whether the document is genuine, and they apply to this Court under Section 15 of the Charter Act to stay further proceedings in the Criminal Court; against them pending the disposal of the appeal.
2. On a consideration of the circumstances of the case it appears to us that it would be oppressive to the petitioners to allow the criminal proceedings to be prosecuted as they might thereby be prevented from carrying on the appeal, and as the prosecution was one instituted by a Court, it is probable, in the event of the document being found genuine by the appellate Court, the proceedings against the petitioners might be dropped. There was no suggestion that the petitioners will abscond or be not forthcoming if the finding of the Court as to genuineness is confirmed. We are, therefore, of opinion that further proceedings should be stayed.
3. It was then argued by the Public Prosecutor that this Court has no power to stay proceedings, and reliance was placed on the case of In the Matter of the Petition of Ramprasad Hazra (1866) B.L.R. 426.
4. It is pointed out in Jadu Lal Sahu v. Lowis I.L.R. (1907) 34 C. 548 that the Full. Bench only decided that under the Code of Procedure then in force the High Court sitting as a Court of Civil Appeal had no power to direct that criminal proceedings ordered by a Civil Court should be stayed. The High Court did not consider the effect of Section 15 of the Charter Act and Sections 28 and 29 of the Letters Patent.
5. The power of general superintendence given by Section 15 is not limited by any other provision of law, and it appears to us to include the power to point out to, the subordinate Courts the inexpediency of trying a case when it is likely to interfere with the due course of justice. The power of superintendence (Section 15) and transfer (Section 29) implies the power to send for the records in any case in the lower Courts, which must necessarily stay further proceedings in that case.
6. It appears to us, therefore, that this Court has the power to stay proceedings. The fact that we may not have the power to set aside the order under Section 476, Cr.P.C., is in itself no reason for holding the other way.
7. The proceedings are stayed, not on the ground that the High Court may ultimately quash the proceedings, but on account of the injustice that may be done to the petitioners in preventing them from prosecuting the appeal.
8. We, therefore, order the stay of proceedings as prayed for.
9. See, however, Hemchandra Ray v. Alat Behari Ray I.L.R. (1908) C. 909. - ED