Harington and Tuenon, JJ.
1. This is a Rule calling upon the Chief Presidency Magistrate to show cause why the prosecution in this petition complained of should not be stayed, on the ground that the genuineness of the document, which is the subject of the prosecution, is a question at issue in a civil suit, and, therefore, criminal proceedings ought not to be taken in respect of it until the determination of this civil suit.
2. What has happened is this. The prosecutor in the criminal case sued the defendant on a promissory note. In the course of the proceeding an affidavit was filed by the defendant, which disclosed a letter on which the defendant relied as showing that there was special arrangement with regard to the promissory note which would be an answer to the suit brought against him on that note by the prosecutor. The prosecutor says that the letter is a forgery. He at once took proceedings against the defendant in the Criminal Court for forgery. On the hearing of this Rule, he strongly resisted the application that the criminal prosecution should be stayed until the civil suit is decided.
3. Now, it is perfectly true, as he says, that the fact standing alone that there is a civil suit would not in all cases be a sound reason for staying the criminal proceeding. But in this particular case the letter has been disclosed in the course of a civil proceeding, and is relied on by the defendant as his answer to the plaintiff's claim, and for the purpose of establishing his answer that letter is a necessary part of his case. And the question whether the letter is a genuine document or not, it appears to is, will be a principal issue in the suit brought against him by the prosecutor, tinder the circumstances we think that the criminal proceedings ought to be stayed.
4. In this particular case there is even more reason for staying proceedings than there is in ordinary cases, because the civil suit has been brought by the same person who has instituted the criminal proceeding. The civil suit was brought by him first in point of time, and it lies in his hand to expedite the hearing of it.
5. The argument, therefore, which is often used that the criminal proceedings ought not to be allowed to hang indefinitely does not arise in this case, because it rests in the hand of the prosecutor to have the civil suit determined without delay, and then to take such criminal proceedings he thinks proper.
6. Inasmuch as there is a serious allegation with reference to the letter, we do not think it right to allow that letter to go out of the Court's control. We direct that the letter be impounded and the criminal proceeding be stayed pending the hearing of the civil suit. The Rule, therefore, is made absolute.