What is Inherent Powers of Court?
Meaning of Inherent Powers of Court: – Inherent power of Court are those powers which are not subject to be taken away from the courts and can be used by the court to do full and satisfied justice between the parties before it. Inherent powers of courts are those powers which may be applied by the court to perform full and complete justice between the parties before it. It is the duty of the Courts to serve justice in every case, whether given in this code or not, brings with it the important power to do justice in the absence of a definite or separate provision.
Inherent powers are the power of court which are helpful in minimizing litigation, avoid multiplicity of proceedings and to render complete justice between two parties. Section 148 to 153B of CPC discusses the provisions of the Inherent powers of the Court. These provisions discuss the enlargement of time, payment of court fees, transfer of the business of one court to another court, end of justice, abuse of process of the court, amendment of judgement, decree, orders, and records, etc.
Whether civil or criminal, in the absence of prohibition of procedure, may be considered as inherent powers of court enshrined in its constitution, which may be necessary to do justice and not to do wrong while providing justice. The inherent powers of the court are broad enough to serve the ends of justice.
What are the conditions for use of Inherent Powers of Court?
There are many conditions set by different cases that indicate the circumstances under which inherent powers of court can be used. These conditions can be calculated as follows:
- Jurisdiction is completely discretionary. The High Court may refuse to exercise the power.
- Jurisdiction is not limited to those cases which are pending before the High Court. May consider any matter which comes to its notice (appeal, amendment or otherwise).
- This power can be applied only in event when the aggrieved party is being unnecessarily harassed and there is no other remedy open to it.
- The High Court, under section 482, does not conduct a trial or appreciate the evidence. The use of this power (although it has a wide scope) is limited to those cases which are compelled to interfere to prevent abuse of a legal process.
- The High Court has the power to grant relief to the accused even if he has not filed the petition under section 482.
- As long as the vested power of Section 482 Criminal Procedure Code is under law, the exercise of such power is not impermissible.
- All Courts, whether it is civil or criminal possess, in the absence of any express provisions, as inherent in their constitution, all such powers as are necessary to do the right and to undo a wrong in course of administration of justice.
What are the Instances where Court has no Inherent Power?
The inherent powers of the courts cannot be exercised under the following: –
- Transfer of Suits;
- Stay of proceedings under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996;
- Stay on Income Tax cases;
- Granting of future interest after the date of the decree;
- No power to amend the decree to award enhanced statutory benefits;
- When a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is disposed of, the courts can’t reopen it through Miscellaneous Application;
- To entertain an appeal from non-appealable order;
- Alter it’s judgment once it is signed;
- An amendment to the final decree cannot be done by court invoking Order XLVII Rule 1;
- Court has no inherent power to entertain an application for correcting a final decree;
- The courts cannot set aside ex parte decree under its inherent powers;
Provisions of Section 148 to 153B of Civil Procedure Code
Following are the provisions of Inherent powers of Courts: –
- Section 148 and Section 149 deals with grant or enlargement of time;
- Section 150 deals with the transfer of business;
- Section 151 protects the inherent powers of the courts; and
- Section 152, 153 and Section 153A deals with amendments in judgments, decrees or orders or in separate proceedings.
Enlargement of Time (Section 148)
Section 148 of the Civil Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to as CPC) gives power to the Court for the enlargement of time fixed by it with regard to the doing of an act prescribed or allowed by the CPC. Following the Amendment of 1999, the time permitted to be enlarged was limited to thirty days.
Section 148 of the CPC states that where any term is fixed or awarded by the Court for the doing of any act provided by CPC, it is the discretionary power of the Court that Court may enlarge such period from time to time, even though the term originally fixed or awarded may have departed.
In simple words, when a term is fixed by provision for the doing of any act, the Court has the power to extend such period up to 30 days. This power is exercisable in the deficiency of any specific provision to the contrary which reduces or rejects or withholds the period. The power is limited to the extension of the time fixed by it and is of a discretionary nature.
Payment of Court Fees (Section 149)
Where the whole or any part of any fee prescribed for any document by the law for the time being in force relating to court-fees has not been paid, the Court may, in its discretion, at any stage, allow the person, by whom such fee is payable, to pay the whole or part, as the case may be, of such court-fee; and upon such payment the document, in respect of which such fee is payable, shall have the same force and effect as if such fee had been paid in the first instance.
Section 149 allows the court to allow a party to make up the deficiency of court-fees payable on a plaint, memorandum of appeal etc., even after the expiry of the limitation prescribed for the filing of such suit or appeal. It permits the court to allow a party to make up for the lack of court fees due on a complaint or notice of appeal etc., even after the expiry of the limitation period for filing of the lawsuit or appeal, etc.
Transfer of Business (Section 150)
The business of any Court is transferred to any other Court, the Court to which the business is so transferred shall have the same powers and shall perform the same duties as those respectively conferred and imposed by or under this Code upon the Court from which the business was so transferred.
For example: – When the business of a court ‘A’ is transferred to any other court ‘B’, the court ‘B’ will exercise the same power or perform the same duties given or commanded by CPC upon the transfer court.
Saving of Inherent Powers of Court (Section 151)
Section 151 deals with “Saving of inherent powers of Court.
Saving of Inherent Powers of Court: – Nothing in this code shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent powers of the court to make such orders as may be necessary for the ends of the justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the court. It is not obligatory for the court to wait for the law made by parliament or order from the higher judiciary. Court has discretionary or inherent power to make such order which is not given in terms of laws for the security of justice or to check misuse of the method of the Court.
In the case of Debendranath vs. Satya Bala Dass, the meaning of “ends of justice” was explained. These words indicate that Justice is the persuit and end of all law. However, this expression is not vague and indeterminate notion of justice according to laws of the land and statutes. The court will use its inherent powers to secure the ends of justice where there has been a violation of the statutes and laws of the land. The court will not use its inherent power to defeat any provision of law.
The word ‘abuse’ is said to occur when a Court uses a method in doing something that it is never expected to do is the perpetrator of the said abuse and there is a failure of justice. Abuse of the powers of the court which happens in unfairness to party needs to get relief on the ground that the act of a court shall not prejudice anyone. When a party practices fraud on the court or on a party to a proceeding, the remedies have to be provided on the basis of inherent power.
Section 151 of CPC can be exercised in some cases as follows: –
- The court may recheck its orders and resolve errors;
- Issuance of provisional sanctions when the case is not included by order 39 or to place alongside an ‘ex parte’ order;
- Illegal orders or orders passed without jurisdiction can be set-aside;
- Subsequent events in the case can be taken into consideration by the court;
- Power of Court to continue trial ‘in camera’ or prevent disclosure of its proceedings;
- The court can erase remarks made against a Judge; and
- The court can improve the suit and re-hear on merit or re-examine its order.
Amendment of Judgments, Decrees or Orders (Section 152)
Section 152 of CPC deals with the ‘Amendment of judgements, decrees, and order’. According to Section 152 of CPC, Court has the power to change (either by own actions or on the application of any of the parties) written or arithmetical mistakes in judgments, decrees or orders or faults arising from an unexpected lapse or imperfection.
Clerical or arithmetical mistakes in judgments, decrees or orders or errors arising therein from any accidental slip or omission may at any time be corrected by the Court either of its own motion or on the application of any of the parties.
General Powers to Amend (Section 153)
The Court may at any time and on such terms as to costs or otherwise as it may think fit, amend any defect or error in any proceeding in a suit, and all necessary amendments shall be made of the purpose of determining the real question or issue raised by or depending on such proceeding. This Section empowers the court to amend any fault and error in any proceedings in suits and all required improvements shall be made for the purpose of arranging raised issues or depending on such proceeding.
Power to Amend Decree or Order where Appeal is Summarily Dismissed
Where an Appellate Court dismisses an appeal under rule 11 of Order XLI, the power of the Court to amend, under section 152, the decree or order appealed against may be exercised by the Court which had passed the decree or order in the first instance, notwithstanding that the dismissal of the appeal has the effect of confirming the decree or order, as the case may be, passed by the Court of the first instance.
Summary of Provisions of Inherent Powers of Courts
A summary of Section 148 to Section 153B is that the powers of the court are quite deep and extensive for the scope of: –
- Reducing litigation;
- Evade multiplicity of proceedings; and
- To supply full and complete justice between the parties.
Inherent Powers of the Supreme Court under the Constitution
The Inherent Powers of the Supreme Court under the Constitution are as follows: –
- The Constitution of India under Article 136 confers powers to the Supreme Court such as the power to grant a special leave petition against any order or decision from any court or tribunal in the country.
- The Supreme Court has the power to decide the election dispute of the President and Vice President.
- The Constitution of India through Article 142 provides for the Supreme Court of India to pass such “decree or order as may be necessary to do full justice between the parties”. Article 142 in our constitution provides in the process of doing full justice, the Supreme Court has the power to pass any decision, order or decree. Any such order by the Supreme Court will be enforced throughout the territory of India.
- The instrument for implementing such an order shall be determined by the law which has been passed by the Parliament about it. If there will be no existing law passed by Parliament to implement the order passed by the SC then, the President’s order shall determine it by prescription. In this Article, the Supreme Court can also order for the presence of a person, search and production of documents, and also to investigate and punish for its contempt.
- These powers have been delegated to the Supreme Court as the Supreme Court protects the other court from any form of judicial difficulties and does not harm the court to do justice among the parties before it.
Inherent Powers of the High Court
Section 482 deals specifically with the saving of vested powers of the High Court. This section preserves the vested powers of the High Court and prohibits all such things which limit such power. The inherent power of High Court can be exercised: –
- To give effect to an order under the Code; or
- To prevent misuse of court procedure; or
- To secure the ends of justice.
The section provides specific provisions where vested powers may be exercised. Also, these powers cannot be applied where any special provision is made for a particular case.
- Power to be Exercised Ex Debito Justitiae: – The power conferred by section 482 should be exercised ex debito justitiae. The provisions of section 422 are meant to advance justice and not to frustrate it. The High Court should not assume the power of the trial court and should use this power carefully.
- To Prevent the Abuse of the Process of any Court: – The purpose of section 482 is only to preserve and recognize the powers vested in the High Court and not any new powers. The High Court cannot do something in accordance with the powers vested in its practice which the Code specifically prohibits the Court from doing. It is an extraordinary power, should not be pressed into aid except to remove a major misconduct by a subordinate to its powers.
- To Secure the Ends of Justice: – Where the Court is satisfied that vested powers are necessary to be exercised to secure the ends of justice, it is empowered to do so. This principle is of extreme importance to secure the independence of the courts and the administration of justice. This allows the court to freely use its discretionary functions without undue interference. The High Court can intervene to achieve the ends of justice. For example, when a clear constitutional provision of law is violated, the High Court can intervene to safeguard reasonable liberty. The independence of judges should be preserved and they should be allowed to carry out their tasks freely and fearlessly, without undue influence of anyone.
Inherent powers of the Civil Court
The law relating to the vested powers of the Civil Court falls under Section-148A of Section-148 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), which envisages the exercise of powers under various circumstances.
The provisions dealing with these inherent powers are: –
- Section 150: – This provision deals with transfer of business.
- Section 151: – It protects the vested powers of the courts
- Sections 152, 153 and Sec 153(A): – These provisions of CPC are accompanied by amendments in decrees, judgments, orders or other proceedings.
Inherent Powers of the Criminal Courts
Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code: – “Nothing in this Code shall be construed or may be necessary to give effect to any order under the Code to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such order, or any court To prevent misuse of the process or otherwise secure the ends of justice ”.
Section 482 of the CrPC deals with the vested powers of the court. This section was added by the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act of 1923, as the High Courts were unable to present full justice even if the illegality was clear.
The inherent jurisdiction under this section may be exercised except in 3 circumstances, namely: –
- To secure the ends of justice;
- To prevent misuse of the court process;
- To give effect to an order under CRPC.
When the Inherent powers can be exercised?
Jurisdiction is completely discretionary. The High Court has the power to refuse to use its power.
- The jurisdiction of the High Court is not limited only to those matters which are pending before the High Court, and it may consider any matter which comes to its notice (appeal, amendment or otherwise).
- Under Section 248 of the CrPC, when the aggrieved party is being unnecessarily harassed, this power can be inferred if it has no other remedy.
- The High Court does not conduct tests or appreciate evidence. This power of the High Court is limited to those cases which compel it to intervene to prevent a misuse of the legal process.
- The High Court has the power to grant relief to the accused even if he has not filed a petition under section 482.
- This power of the High Court cannot be exercised if any suit is pending before the apex court, and the Sessions Judge is directed to issue a non-bailable warrant in connection with the arrest of the petitioner(s).
- Section 482 of the CrPC specifies that the power vested is not intended to do justice at the threshold, but to secure justice.
- This power has to be exercised with periphery and in the rarest of rare cases, but it cannot be said that it can only be exercised in the rarest of rare cases. The expression rarest of rare case may be exercised where death penalty is to be imposed under Section 302 of IPC but this expression cannot be extended to a petition under Section 482 CrPC.
- If one takes action, it is found that the court would be justified in dismantling these proceedings, for misusing the court process.
- As long as the power vested under Section 482 of the CrPC is under law, the exercise of such power is not impermissible.