Inherent Powers of the Court (CPC)
Author: Raj Aryan, B.A LL.B (2018-2023), Lloyd Law College.
Law has always been and considered as an essential element of society. It exists from the time when men were uncivilized, until now, where we are entered into a civilized world. It’s the existence of courts only which has made much known to us the presence of law. Laws hold a very high position in the society by its goodness, honesty to do justice between the parties. The courts are constituted for the same purpose only. So, there must be power vested in the courts, which are necessary to do right and to undo the wrong.
Meaning of Inherent Power:
The word “inherent” has a very wide scope in itself. It means existing and inseparable from something, a permanent characteristic or quality, something essential, attached to a person or office as a right of privilege. So, basically inherent powers are such powers that are absolute from courts and need to be exercised by a court to do full and complete justice.
Relevant sections of Inherent Powers under CPC:
There are many section in CPC that provides for the same i.e. Section 148, 148-A, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153 and 153-A of CPC.
Section 148: This section talks about the enlargement of time i.e.where any if fixed by the Court for doing any prescribed act, the Court may, in its discretion, from time to time, enlarge such period, even if the original fixed period has expired.
Section 148-A: This section talks about the right of an individual to lodge a caveat i.e. a person can give a notice informing the Court that another person may file a suit against him and requesting the court to give a fair hearing before deciding any matter which is brought before it.
Section 149: This section empowers the Court that the court, in its discretion, at any stage, allow the person, to pay whole or part of the fee prescribed for any document by the law relating to court fees which are not paid at the first instance. The fees shall have the same force and effect as if such fee had been paid in the first instance.
Section 150: In this section, the Court has the power that when the business of any court is transferred to any other Court, the Court to which the business is transferred shall have the same powers and duties like the court from where the business was so transferred.
Section 151: This section is the most vital of all the other sections of the inherent power of CPC. As it states that 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 justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the court.
Section 152: This section talks about the amendment of judgments, decrees or orders. The clerical or arithmetical mistakes, errors arising therein from any accidental slip or omission may at any time be corrected by the Court.
Section 153: This section tells that the Court at any time amends any defect or error in any proceeding in a suit. All the necessary amendments shall be made for the purpose of determining the questions or issues raised, depending on such proceeding.
Section 153-A: This section gives the power to the Court to amend the decree or order; where an appellate Court dismisses an appeal under rule 11 of Order XLI. The appeal made against it can be exercised by the Court which had been passed in the first instance.
Exercise of Inherent Powers by the Court (CPC):
The Court uses its inherent power in those cases where the CPC does not deal with, to do justice. Inherent Powers of the Court under CPC doesn’t go against the provisions given under CPC. The powers can be invoked easily if it doesn’t support the provisions of the code, but the power cannot be used to override or evade other express provisions as CPC. The sections given under CPC confers the judges to make such orders that may be necessary to make justice achievable.
Section 151 tells about two major principles where the court must take into consideration while exercising its inherent powers. The first principle is to exercise the powers for the ends of justice, and the second principle tells that it should prevent abuse of the process of the court.
Alternative for ‘No other remedy’:
In the absence of any special circumstances, amounting to the abuse of the process of the Court, it cannot grant a relief to the parties or cases in the exercise of its inherent power especially when the justice can be served by another remedy, available to the party concerned provided by the Code.
No Powers over the Substantive Rights:
The inherent powers given under Section 151 of the Code are not over the substantive rights which any litigant possesses, instead, specific powers have to be conferred on the Courts for passing such orders.
In Ram Chand and Sons Sugar Mills v. Kanhayalal it was held that the Court would not exercise its inherent power under Section 151 of CPC only if it was inconsistent with the powers impliedly conferred by other provisions of Code. Further, it opined that the Court had an undoubted power to make a suitable order, so as to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court.
The Apex Court in M/s Jaipur Mineral Development Syndicate v. The Commissioner of I.T has maintained that the Courts had power under Section 151 which says that in the absence of any implied prohibition, and to pass an order as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court.
In the case of Bahadur Pradhani v. Gopal Patel, the plaint of a Money Suit was rejected for non-payment of deficit court fee within the time granted by the court. So, the Court examined the scope of the inherent powers of the Court and has expressed that the provisions of the Code do not control the inherent powers by limiting or affecting it. It is a power inherent in the court by virtue of its duties to do justice between the parties before it.
The court has the inherent power to enlarge the said period even if the original period fixed has been expired. Where the court in the exercise of its jurisdiction can grant time to do a particular thing, in the absence of the specific provision to the contrary, denying such jurisdiction, to grant time would include in its ambit the jurisdiction to extend time initially fixed by it.
Along with the various inherent powers, there exist few limitations too. The inherent powers can’t be exercised in conflict with an express provision in the code, further, it cannot exercise jurisdiction not vested in them by law. It can be exercised only in the absence of express provisions in the code or to restrain a party from taking proceedings in the court of law or to set aside an order which was right at the time of its issuance. It is sure that the substantive rights of the parties shall not be taken away.
It will never be possible for the legislature even to form laws by foreseeing every possible situation. So, to encounter such situations, certain inherent powers need to be vested with the courts. This needs to be done for the purpose of meeting the ends of justice. Doing the same thing is very clear that it should not go against the provisions stated under CPC. The statute like CPC aims at making the judicial process uniform and unbiased. Section 151 especially gives the court the ability to granting justice, even in those situations where CPC is not applicable or finds itself not suitable to provide proper justice. As, in the case of Ram Chand & Sons Sugar Mills Ltd. V. Kanhayalal Bhargava it was held that “Whatever limitations are imposed by the construction of the provisions of Section 151 of the Code, they do not control the undoubted power of this court conferred under section 151 of the Code to make a suitable order to prevent the abuse of the process of the court.”