1. The petitioner brought an application before the Subordinate Judge of Vizagapatam, purporting to/be under Section 25 of the Madras Debt Conciliation Act and Section 151, Civil Procedure Code, asking for a stay of the execution of a money decree pending proceedings before the Debt Conciliation Board under Section 4 of the Act. When the application was filed, a copy of the petition was filed before the Debt Conciliation Board. A counter was filed making the usual allegations of frivolity and so on against the petitioner; and the Court passed an order staying the disposal of the execution application on condition of the petitioner's paying up the costs of the suit or of depositing them into Court on or before a certain date. The petitioner contends that this condition imposed by the order of the Subordinate Judge was ultra vires.
2. Under Section 25 of the Madras Debt Conciliation Act, the Court is bound to stop all proceedings in connection with the debt which is being considered by the Debt Conciliation Board. The wording of the section is most peremptory:
When an application has been made to a Board under Section 4, any suit or other proceeding...in respect of any debt for the settlement of which application has been made shall not be proceeded with until the Court has dismissed the application.
3. So that the Court, upon its attention being drawn to the fact that proceedings are pending before the Debt Conciliation Board, is bound to stay whatever proceedings are before it in connection with that debt. It does not matter whether or no the Court is of opinion that the proceedings before the Debt Conciliation Board are frivolous or intended to delay justice; and no petition for stay is necessary. It is not necessary even to call upon the other side for a counter. The Court may require the petitioner to produce proof that he has filed the petition before the Debt Conciliation Board and that it has not been dismissed; and if the petitioner can satisfy him on those points, the Court has no discretion but to stay.
4. The petitioner added Section 151, Civil Procedure Code, as one of the sections under which he asked the Court to exercise its powers; and there can be no doubt that the Court has power, when it orders stay by virtue of its inherent power to do so, to impose such terms as it thinks fit. It was however unnecessary in this case to invoke the inherent powers of the Court under Section 151. What in effect the petitioner did was to draw the attention of the Court to the fact that an application before the Debt Conciliation Board was pending.
5. In staying proceedings under Section 25, the Court cannot impose any condition; for the power to impose a condition implies a corresponding power to dismiss the application if the condition is not fulfilled. If a conditional order is made under Section 25 staying the suit or other proceeding, the Court cannot dismiss the application upon the nonfulfilment of the condition. From this it follows that the imposition of a condition is ultra vires.
6. This petition is therefore allowed and the condition attached to the order of stay cancelled. The petitioner is entitled to his costs in this Court from the respondent.