inherent powers of the court
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This article is written by Gauraw Kumar, a 2nd-year student of BVP-New Law College, Pune. In this article, he covers the “Inherent powers of the court” and tries to explain its provisions and Sections of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 related to it.

Introduction

Meaning of ‘inherent’ is existing in something as a permanent, absolute, inseparable, essential or characteristic attribute. 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. This power is said to be the inherent power that is maintained by the court, though not conferred. Section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code deals with the inherent powers of the court.

Provisions of Section 148 to 153B of CPC

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:

Enlargement of time

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

According to Section 149 of CPC, “Where the entire or a portion of any fee commanded for any certificate by the law for the time being in force relating to court-fees has not been met, the Court may, in its discretion, at any step, permit 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 regard of which such fee is payable, shall have the same force and result as if such fee had been paid in the initial situation.”

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. 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.

Transfer of business

According to Section 150 of CPC, “Save as otherwise granted, where the business of any Court is assigned to any other Court, the Court to which the business is so assigned shall have the same authority and shall make the same duties as those sequentially presented and forced by or under this Code upon the Court from which the business was so assigned.”

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.

Section 151 of CPC

Section 151 deals with “Saving of inherent powers of Court.” This Section 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 limit abuse of the method 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.

The scope of exercising of Section 151 of CPC can be represented by 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.

Ends of justice

In the case of Debendranath v Satya Bala Dass, the meaning of “ends of justice” was explained. It was held that “ends of justice” are solemn words, also theres words are not merely a polite expression as per juristic methodology. These words also 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 is allowed to 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 practices fraud on the court or on a party to a proceeding, the remedies have to be provided on the basis of inherent power.

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. The injustice so done to the party must be given relief on the basis of the doctrine of actus curiae neminem gravabit (an act of the court shall prejudice no one). 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.

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Amendment of judgments, decrees, orders, and other records

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.

Section 153 deals with the “General authority to amend.” 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.

Section 152 and 153 of the CPC makes it clear that the court may set correct any blunders in their experiences at any time.

Power to amend decree or order where an appeal is summarily dismissed and place of the trial to be deemed to be open Court are defined under Section 153A and 153B of CPC,1908. 

Limitation

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;
  • Courts can neither exercise jurisdiction nor entrust in them by law;
  • 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 limit a party from taking proceedings in a court of law; and
  • To set apart an order which was valid at the moment of 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 supply full and complete justice between the parties.

Suggestions

It may be recommended that rules put down by the courts in the application of inherent powers concurrently 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 different circumstances unprovided for which arises in future.

Conclusion

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.

References


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