Inherent powers of Court under CPC: Discussed

Vidhi Agarwal

CPC stands for Code of Civil Procedure. As the name suggests, it deals with matters regarding civil issues and manages the cases in civil court. It is a procedural law which is designed to assist in better administration and management.

All problems which are civil in nature is regulated by CPC from the time it is filed to the delivery of judgments and orders. It is bifurcated into two parts of which the first part consists of 158 sections and the second part consist of the First schedule which in turn has 51 Rules and Orders.

This article will ponder upon the Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure which talks about the inherent powers of court.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘INHERENT POWERS’?

The word inherent has a lot of connotations attached to it but our main motive is to describe the legal meaning of the same. It is basically an inborn or ingrained characteristic in the civil courts, which is present by virtue of bestowed rights and privileges. It is an intrinsic power of the courts .

In short, Inherent powers are those powers that are indivisible from the courts and that a court may exercise to do thorough and total justice between the parties before it.

WHAT DOES SECTION 151 UNDER THE CODE SAY?

Saving of inherent powers of the code: – 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.

Basically, it states that no provision in the code can be regarded as or can restrict and limit the inherent powers of the court for exercising it for delivery of justice and equity. It is for prevention of misuse of judicial process.

CLARIFICATION ON THE DEFINITION OF SECTION 151

Through judicial interpretation, the definition of section 151 was given further clarification. The benefits of Inherent Powers can be availed only if there is no other alternative remedy available in CPC.

Moreover, it should be kept in mind that this is a procedural law and it merely aids substantive laws. Its purpose is not to rip a person off from his substantive rights.

In other words, section 151 which secures the inherent powers of the court, hierarchically does not supersede the substantive rights of an individual.

EXPLAINATION THROUGH CASE LAWS

The term for the section seems to be very broad, as per SC. The court noted in Padam Sen v State of Uttar Pradesh that the inherent powers of the court are in addition to the powers bestowed by the code directly on the court.

They are complementary to those powers and it must therefore be held that the court is independent to implement those powers for the purposes specified in section 151 of the Code, given that the exercise of those powers does not interfere in any way with what is specifically provided for in the Code or with the intent of the legislature.

SC once more established in Manohar Lal Chopra v Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hiralal that, as was clearly specified in Section 151 itself, the inherent powers are not governed by the provisions of the code.

However, such powers must not be exercised where their application should clash with what has been specifically given in the Code or against the legislature’s intentions.

Based on the above two judgements, In Ram Chand and Sons Sugar Mills v. Kanhayalal, the SC stated that, where it was contradictory with the powers explicitly or indirectly granted by other provisions of the Code, the Court would not assert its inherent power under S.151 CPC.

It believed the Court had the unquestionable power to make an effective order to avoid the misuse of the Court’s proceedings.

In Bahadur Pradhani v. Gopal Patel, lawsuit was dismissed for non-payment of the court fee for the shortfall within the period given by the court. Under Section 151, C.P.C., the plaintiff lodged a petition for the reinstatement of the suit at the conclusion of the justice. The court allowed the appeal to be filed and the case was reopened.

The Court examined the extent of the Court’s inherent powers and declared that the rules of the Code do not regulate the courts’ inherent powers by restricting or otherwise affecting them. By virtue of its obligations to do justice between the parties before it, it is a power inherent in the court.

WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF SECTION 151?

Answer to this has been established by the courts in the case of K.K. Velusamy v. N. Palaanisamy, where the following provisions was laid down by the court:

(a) Section 151 is not a substantive provision which confers any power or jurisdiction on courts. It merely recognizes the discretionary power of every court for rendering justice in accordance with law, to do what is `right’ and undo what is `wrong’, that is, to do all things necessary to secure the ends of justice and prevent abuse of its process.

(b) The provisions of the Code are not exhaustive; Section 151 says that if the Code does not expressly or impliedly cover any particular procedural aspect, the inherent power can be used by the court to deal with such situation, to achieve the ends of justice, depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case.

(c)  A Court has no power to do things which is prohibited by law or the Code, in the exercise of its inherent powers. The court cannot make use of the special provisions of Section 151 of the Code, where the remedy or procedure is expressly provided in the Code.

(d) The inherent powers of the court being complementary to the powers specifically conferred, a court is free to exercise them and the court should exercise it in a way that it should not be in conflict with what has been expressly provided in the Code.

(e)  While exercising the inherent power, there is no such legislative guidance to deal with those special situations of the case and so the exercise of power depends upon the discretion and wisdom of the court, and also upon the facts and circumstances of the case. So, such a consequential situation should not, however, be treated as a carte blanche to grant any relief.

(f)  The power under section 151 will have to be used with care, only where it is absolutely necessary, when there is no provision in the Code governing the matter or when the bona fides of the applicant cannot be doubted or when such exercise is to meet the ends of justice and to prevent abuse of process of court.

CONCLUSION

It can be clearly seen that the court’s inherent powers are essentially broad and provisional in nature. There are limits on inherent powers, not because they are regulated by the rules of the Code, but because it is assumed that the process provided for by the legislature is governed by the interests of justice.

Whatever restrictions may be inflicted by the implementation of the provisions of Section 151 of the Code, the unquestionable jurisdiction of that court, bestowed on it under Section 151 of the Code, does not regulate the right to make an effective order to avoid the misuse of the proceedings of the court.

 

*case analysis- M/S Ram Chand and Sons Sugar Mills v. Kanhayalal Bhargava

*Inherent powers under CPC(lawctopus.com)

*Read more