This is the grand old daddy judgment from Hon’ble Apex Court, which says deal with perjury first.
From Para 15, the 5-judge bench of Supreme Court held as follows,
15. As between the civil and the criminal proceedings we are of the opinion that the criminal matters should be given precedence. There is some difference of opinion in the High Courts of India on this point. No hard and fast rule can be laid down but we do not consider that the possibility of conflicting decisions in the civil and criminal courts is 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 here is the likelihood of embarrassment.
From Para 16, reason for disposing of perjury (a criminal offence first) given,
16. Another factor which weighs with us is that a civil suit often drags on for years and it is undesirable that a criminal prosecution should wait 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 mind and that the innocent should be absolved as early as is consistent with a fair and impartial trial. Another reason is that it is undesirable to let things slide till memories have grown too dim to trust. This, however, is not a hard and fast rule. Special considerations obtaining in any particular case might make some other course more expedient and just. For example, the civil case or the other criminal proceeding may be so near its end as to make it inexpedient to stay it in order to give precedence to a prosecution ordered under Section 476. But in this case we are of the view that the civil suits should be stayed till the criminal proceedings have finished.
From the final Para 17, wherein the 4 ongoing Civil suits are stayed and the criminal prosecution u/s 193 IPC was allowed to go ahead.
M.S.Sheriff Vs The State of Madras and Others on 18 March, 1954
The result is that the appeal fails and is dismissed but with no order about costs. Civil Suits Nos. 311 of 1951 to 314 of 1951, in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Coimbatore, will be stayed till the conclusion of the prosecution under section 193, Indian Penal Code. As the plaintiffs there are parties here, there is no difficulty about making such an order.
Equivalent citations: [1954 SCR 1229], [1954 AIR SC 397], [1954 CRILJ 1019], [1954 LW 67 625], [1954 SCR 1 1144]
Other Source links:
Index of all Perjury case laws is here.