INHERENT POWERS OF THE CIVIL COURT
– Nandini Tripathy
The word inherent is very broad in itself. The power which are not proscriptive in the code and are complementary to the powers that are mentioned in the code is known as the Inherent power of the code. These are unavoidable and can be used by the court in order to provide justice. The code of civil procedure acknowledges the power function and the limitations of the court. Above that court has certain powers which is not prescriptive in code and that power is known as inherent power of the court. The court has full liberty to exercise its inherent power in order to provide justice or to prevent misconduct of the process of the court.
KEYWORDS: Inherent, Exercise, Justice, Misconduct etc.
Without Law there can’t be an imagination of society. It has always been a necessary element for smooth working in society. The usage of law has much come in knowledge with the continuation of court. The court has major role and it gives the conclusive rule when there was no written statue on the principles to do justice. Court hold very high position in society as it used to provide justice to the person who suffered some loss.
The court of civil procedure is a procedural and objective law whose provisions are construed to achieve justice which is the primary and essential function of the court. The code of civil procedure acknowledges the power function and the limitations of the court. Above that court has certain powers which is not prescriptive in code and that power is known as inherent power of the court. The court has full liberty to exercise its inherent power in order to provide justice or to prevent misconduct of the process of the court.
The word inherent is very broad in itself. The power which are not proscriptive in the code and are complementary to the powers that are mentioned in the code is known as the Inherent power of the code. These are unavoidable and can be used by the court in order to provide justice.
NATURE AND SCOPE OF SECTION 151
The provision contained in this section is hardly indicative of the power of the court to make such orders as may be mandatory for achieving the ends of justice, and also to prevent the misuse of the process of the court and does not confer any power. The court has been vested with. Such powers make it adequate to grant relief when the ends of justice and equity so require, as such powers are of a wide scope and space. The Supreme Court in the case has observed that “the inherent power has not been argue on the court; it is a power in the court by ethic of its duty to do justice between the parties in advance”. This power of the court is limited to the extent that it can’t be exercised if its exercise is conflicting with, or comes into conflict with, any of the powers expressly or by mandatory implication argue under the Code. Also, the power under Section 151 can’t be exert as an appellate function and it cannot be conjured to pass the administrative and ministerial orders.
When can an inherent power be practice?
Under Section 151 there are two primary principles the court must take into consideration while applying its inherent powers. The first being that the powers are to be applied only for the ends of justice and second, it should be to prevent misuse of process of the court. Such power need not be used when prohibited or bar by the Code or other statutes and in situations when there exist definite provisions in the Code applicable to the litigation at hand.
PROVISIONS OF SECTION 148 TO 153A
The law relating to inherent powers of Court is mentioned in Section 148 to Section 153A of the Civil Procedure Code, which deals with the exercise of powers in different situations. Following are the provisions of Inherent powers of Courts:
• Section 148 deals with grant or enlargement of time;
• Section 149 deals with payment of court fee;
• Section 150deals with the transfer of business;
• Section 151 deals with protection of 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
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
Payment of the expected court fee is compulsory for any document imputable with court-fee to be presented in the court. If the necessary court fee is paid within the time set by the court, it cannot be negotiated as time-barred. Such payment made within the time fixed by the court retrospectively validates a faulty document. The power of the court is discretionary and must be exercised only in the importance of justice.
It permits the court to allow a party to make up for the lack of court fees, even after the expiry of the limitation period for filing of the lawsuit or appeal, etc.
Transfer of business
According to Section 150 of CPC, where the work of any one Court is assigned to any other Court, the Court to which the work has been assigned shall have the same authority and shall perform the same duties as that would have been performed in the court whose work has been assigned.
For example- When the work of one court is transferred to any other court, the other court will exercise the same power or perform the same duties given or commanded by CPC upon the transfer court.
Protecting the Inherent Powers of the Court
It states that ‘Nothing in CPC shall be considered to restrict or otherwise affect the inherent power of the Court to make such orders as may be important for the ends of justice or to avoid misuse of the method of the Court.’ It is not mandatory for the court to wait for the law made by the 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. “The inherent power is an implied power which is not prescriptive in code and is given to do justice between the parties before it”.
The Court stated the scope of Section 151 of the CPC 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 ‘exparte’ order;
• Illegal orders or orders which has been passed without jurisdiction can be set-aside;
• Subsequent events in the case can be taken into consideration by the court;
• Court has the power to continue trial ‘in camera’ or prevent disclosure of its proceedings;
• The court can remove remarks made against a Judge; and
• The court can in order to improve the suit, re-hear on merit or re-examine its order.
Ends of justice
In the case of Debendranath v. Satya BalaDass the meaning of “ends of justice” was explained. It was held that “ends of justice” are solemn words; also there words are not merely a polite expression as per juristic methodology. These words also indicate that Justice is the pursuit and end of all law.
The Court can exercise these inherent powers in cases like- to recheck its own order and correct its error, to pass injunction in case not included by Order 39,and an ex parte order against the party, etc.
Abuse of process of the court
Section 151 of the CPC provides for the exercise of inherent powers to check the infringement of the process of the court. 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 commits fraud on the court or on a party to a proceeding, the remedies have to be provided on the basis of the inherent powers.
A party to a case will become the perpetrator of the abuse in cases when the said party does acts like obtaining benefits by functioning fraud on the Court or a party to the proceedings, prompting the multiplicity of proceedings, etc.
Instances of Inherent Powers
• Correction of Error: The court has the power to correct error in the judgement and decree, or even correct its own order, or it can even recall an erroneous order in an appropriate case.
• Issuance of Injunction: Court has the power to issue injunction in all those cases which do not fall under Order 59 Rule 1.
• Determination of Jurisdiction: The court has the power to determine any question regarding to their own jurisdiction and has the power to set aside an Order passed without Jurisdiction.
• Production of additional evidence: The Court may in the exercise of it’s inherent jurisdiction under Section 151 allow production of the additional evidence in order to ensure justice between the parties.
Amendment of judgments, decrees, orders, and other records
Section 152 CPC deals with the “Amendment of judgments, 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 the judgments, decrees or orders or faults arising from an unexpected lapse or imperfection.
(1) If a man files a suit against another for a certain amount in the court and the court passes a decree for the same. The decree passed by the court can be amended under this section.
(2) If a man files a suit against another for a certain amount in the court and the court passes a decree for the amount which is less than the amount claimed and then he applies to amend the decree by adding a payment of interest. In this situation, decree cannot be amended within this Section. He just has the option to file an appeal or application for review.
Section 153 deals with the “General authority to amend.” This Section empowers the court to amend any fault and error in any proceedings in the suits and all the required improvements shall be done for the purpose of arranging raised issues or the issues which are depending on such proceeding.
Section 152 and 153 of the CPC makes it clear that the court may set or correct any blunders in their experiences at any time.
Section 153A and 153B of CPC,1908 gives Power to amend decree or order where an appeal is summarily dismissed and place of the trial.
The court can exercise its inherent power to do justice only in that situation where the code is silent. In case where there are specific provisions of the code that deals with the specific issue, then in that cases the inherent powers of the Court can’t be invoked. The inherent powers of the court are used for those issues where the code is silent. In case if the party can avail justice, another remedy which is available in the code, then in these cases the court cannot gave relief with the use of its inherent power.
No Powers over the Substantive Rights: The inherent powers saved by Section 151 of the Code are not above the substantive rights which are possessed by the litigant. Specific powers must be conferred on the Courts for passing any such orders.
Ram Chand and Sons Sugar Mills v. Kanhayalal
The Court has no right to exercise its inherent power under S.151 CPC if the exercise of power would be inconsistent with the powers expressly or impliedly conferred on them by any other provisions of the Code. It had further stated that the Court had power to make a suitable order which it thinks fit to prevent the misuse of the process of the Court.
M/s Jaipur Mineral Development Syndicate v. Commissioner of I.T
The Apex court has stated that in the absence of any express or implied prohibition, Courts had power under Section 151, to pass an order that may be necessary to achieve ends of justice.
To Advance Interests of Justice:
Ram Chand & Sons Sugar Mills v. Kanhayalal Bhargava
The appellant contended that at the time of pendency of the first suit, certain events had taken place due to which the first was not affective and in law the suit could not be kept pending for long and thus is continued solely for the purpose of continuing an interim order which was passed in the suit.
The question arose was that whether a defendant could file an application under Section 151 CPC for the dismissal of the pending suit on the ground that the said suit has lost its cause of action. The Court had upheld the contention.
Restoration of Money Suit:
Bahadur Pradhani v. Gopal Patel
The plaint of a Money Suit was rejected by the court for being insufficient to pay the deficit court fee within the time granted by the court. After rejection the plaintiff filed a petition under Section 151, C.P.C. for restoring the suit in the ends of justice. The court took the petition into consideration and examined the inherent powers of the Court and stated that the provisions of the Code do not have any control in the inherent powers of the court. It is not that power which is provided to the Court by the Code rather it is the power inherent in the court by virtue of its duties to do justice between the parties before it.
When there is no scope for getting any relief: It was held that the provisions of the Code are disable as the legislature is not capable of considering the all possible circumstances which may arise in future litigation.
The exercise of inherent powers carries with it certain barriers such as:
• They can be applied only in the deficiency of particular provisions in the Code;
• They cannot be applied in dispute with what has been expressly given in the code;
• They can be applied in rare or exceptional cases;
• While operating the powers, the court has to follow the method shown by the legislature;
• To abide by the principle of Res judicata i.e., not to open the issues which have already been decided finally;
• To pick a mediator to make an award afresh;
• Substantive rights of the parties shall not be taken away;
• To set aside an order which was valid at its issuance
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 provide justice to the parties.
APPEAL, REVIEW AND REVISION
An appeal and a second appeal have been held, by the Madras High Court to lie from an order made under Section.151, in execution, or for the restitution; whereas the High Court of Patna held that no appeal lies from an order given by a court in its inherent jurisdiction. No appeal lies against an order of remand under Section.151 but revision is maintainable. Orders granting temporary injunction ex parte or refusing to grant injunction under Section.151 is not appealable. When the order purports to have been passed under Section.151 and not under Order 39 rule1 only a revision will lie against the order.
It is well-settled that when an application for maintenance is submitted in partition suit by the plaintiff, in view of the fact that the property is in possession of the defendant and the plaintiff is designated to have maintenance out of the joint family property, such application is entertained in view of Section.151 and not under Order 39 or any other provision. Order 42 is not applicable to such orders Therefore, as against such order, the miscellaneous appeal is misapprehended. Thus, the miscellaneous appeal as against the order against the order of maintenance was not arguable in law.
The review/recall petition against the consent decree would not lie. If the evidence on record discloses that one party has played fraud on the other party, in such event the only remedy left over to the party against whom the fraud is played to file a separate suit for setting aside the decree obtained by fraud. But, if it proved that one of the parties has played fraud on the court, then only the review petition is maintainable under Section 151 Code of Civil Procedure.
Where order allowing amendment of plaint was clear and unambiguous, the court has no inherent power to review its decision duly pronounced.
After anxiously examining the assorted provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure which provides or envisage filing of an appeal, the Supreme Court establishes that no such provisions are available to the appellant to file an appeal contrary to the order made by the trial court on an application filed under Section151. Therefore, the revision petition against the said order was not maintainable.
Order rejecting application under Order 26 rule 9, read with Section.151 for appointment of approved value to fix valuation of plant and machinery is not revisable, in view of provisions of Section115 and considering the fact that the impugned order rejecting the application has not disposed of the suit or proceeding. There is neither any merit nor any scope for interference by high court, particularly when the very application under Order 21 rule 29 read with Section151 was not tenable.
There is no justification to interfere with the impugned order in the exercise of provisional jurisdiction under Section115. The order if not formal may not be interfered with revision if it is made irregularly or even improperly unless grave injustice or hardship would result from a failure to do so. Where the interference is likely to work, not in the interest of justice but rather against it, the high court will not interfere in its provisional jurisdiction.
It may be recommended that rules put down by the courts in the application of the inherent powers concurrent with the restraints and limitations on the application of the power be arranged in the form of rules to be made by the Supreme Court and be made desirable to the courts for their leadership. The rules may also provide to deal with the different circumstances unprovoked for which may arise in the future.
Through the doctrinal research, the method, which is adopted in completion of the work, it can be safely infer that Section 151 of CPC is not a substantive provision. Sections 148-153A provides with the courts very wide and comprehensive powers. Inherent powers are the power of court which is helpful in minimizing litigation, avoid multiplicity of proceedings and to render complete justice between two parties. 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 judgment, decree, orders, and records, etc.