Inherent Powers of the Court in Civil Cases | Civil Procedure

By | April 20, 2020
Inherent Powers

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Inherent powers are such powers which are inalienable from courts and may be exercised by a court to do full and complete justice between the parties before it.

Introduction

The word “Inherent” is very wide in itself. It means existing and inseparable from something, a permanent attribute or quality, an essential element, something intrinsic, or essential, vested in or attached to a person or office as a right of privilege.[1] Every single power as might be vital to have the privilege and to repair a wrong over the span to administer the ends of justice, comprise an inherent power of the court. “The intention of the law-makers in instituting numerous provisions of the laws of the procedure is to secure the ends of justice”.[1]

Inherent powers under section 151 will be practised by the court to review just such a complaint that no ameliorate is provided for under the Code of Civil Procedure. It is a mere procedural provision which enables the parties to have the proceedings of a pending suit conducted in a manner that is consistent with justice and equity.[2] The said inherent power cannot be used to reopen settled matters or to restrain the execution of a decree at the instance of one who was not a party to the suit. However, the inherent powers cannot be exercised in contravention of, or in strife with or by disregarding any express and explicit provision of law.

Provisions

Section 148 to 153-B of the Code deal with inherent powers of courts. The provisions, however, are not based on an intelligible pattern. Section 148 and 149 provides for grant and extension of time. Section 150, provides for the transfer of business. While Section 151 preserves the inherent powers of courts. Section 152,153 and 153-A deal with amendments in judgments, decrees order and in other proceedings. Section 153-B declares a place of trial to be an open court.

Section 151 confers power upon court if the matter is not covered under Order XXXIX Rule 1 and 2 of the code.[3] Though an appeal can be made under Order XI Rule 21.[4]

The provision under section 151, does not confer any extraordinary jurisdiction on the court. It saves the inherent power of all civil courts i.e. from the trial judge to Supreme Court.

Exercise of Inherent Power

The inherent power must be practised distinctly in exceptional conditions for which the Code, sets out no procedure. It can’t be practised in order to invalidate the provision of the code. Where the code accord on a specific issue, the provision should not ordinarily be adjudged as comprehensive.[5]

“This provision doesn’t bestow any power, however just stipulate that there is a power to make such orders as may be basic for the ends of justice and to prevent abuse of the procedure of the court, as expressed by Supreme Court in the matter of Manohar Lal v. Seth Hira Lal[6].”

A court has no power to alter or add to a judgment after it is signed, as it will be a direct contravention of Order XX Rule 3 of the code. The court can’t utilize the exceptional provisions of this section where a party has his remedy given somewhere else in the code and he fails to get benefit from the said provisions.

The appeal can be conceded in the exercise of inherent powers only on the off chance that it isn’t prohibited under any provision. In this manner, the court executing the power under section 151 first needs to consider about whether the exercise of such power is explicitly denied by any provision of the code and in the event that there is no such forbiddance, at that point the court will consider about whether such power ought to be exercised or not based on the facts and circumstances of the case.[7]

In the matter of Manohar Lal Chopra v. Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hiralal[8], it has been held that inherent jurisdiction of the court to make orders ex debito justitiae is undoubtedly affirmed by section 151 but that jurisdiction cannot be exercised so as to nullify the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure.

In Ram Chand & Sons Sugar Mills Pvt. Ltd. v. Kanhayalal Bhargav[9], the Supreme Court in this association affirmed that the inherent power of the court is in addition to and complementary to the powers expressly conferred under the Civil Procedure Code; but that power will not be exercised if its exercise is inconsistent with, or comes into conflict with any of the powers expressly or by necessary implication conferred by the other provisions of the Code. If there are express provisions exhaustively covering a particular topic, they give rise to a necessary implication that no power shall be exercised in respect of the said topic otherwise than in the manner prescribed by the said provisions.

Whatever limitations are imposed by construction on the provisions of section 151 of the Code, they do not control the undoubted power of the court to make a suitable order to prevent the abuse of the process of the court. Thus, inherent powers of the court, would not include a power of revision under section 115 of the Code, even in cases to which that section is not applicable. [10]

Amendment of Pleadings

In some instances it does happens that the original relief sought ends up unseemly or the law changes influencing the privileges of the parties. In such cases, the courts may permit an alteration of pleadings, as per the changed circumstances. Here and there additionally the changed circumstances abbreviate case and afterwards to maintain a circuitry of action the courts permit the amendment.[11]

The courts can exercise the inherent power in the following ways:-

  1. For “the Ends of Justice- It is in the ends of justice that an inquiry should be remedied and needless expense and inconvenience to parties avoided. It will not be in the ends of justice to exercise inherent powers if it would interfere with the rights of third parties or cause mischief or injustice.
  2. To prevent the abuse of the process of Court- the court has no power to override the express provisions of the law.” No appeal can be allowed from a non-appealable order by invoking the aid of this section.

Supreme Court in the matter of Arjun Singh v. Mohindra Kumar[12], held that “It is sufficient if we proceed on the accepted and admitted limitations on the existence of such jurisdiction. it is common ground that the inherent power of the court cannot override the express provisions of law.”

Extension of Time

When a time limit is prescribed by court for doing any act, which later requires more time, the court can invoke inherent powers as per the code to expand the said period regardless of whether the original time frame fixed has terminated.[13]

Deficiency of Court Fees

According to Section 4 of the Court Fees Act, 1870 which provides that no document chargeable with court fee under the Act will be documented or recorded in any court of justice, except if the imperative court fee is paid. If there should arise an occurrence of any inadequacy, the court by invoking inherent powers “can allow the party to pay the insufficiency of court fee payable on a plaint, appeal, and so on even after the expiry of the time of limitation endorsed for the recording of such suit, appeal, and so on.[14]

Recalling of Orders

No court or tribunal can be contemplated as powerless to review its own order on the off chance that it is persuaded that the order was wangled through deceit or distortion of such a dimension as would influence the very premise of the case.[15]

Instances where Inherent Power can be exercised by Courts

  • To order a joint trial of suits;
  • For postponing the hearing of suits;
  • To “allow a defence in forma pauperis;”
  • To stay cross-suits on the ground of convenience;
  • To “determine whether proper parties are before it;
  • To entertain the application of a third person to be made a party;”
  • To bring the heirs on record, even if it is held that Order 1 Rule 10 cannot be invoked;
  • To “set aside a sale brought about by deceit practised in the Court;
  • To restore a suit dismissed for default in case not provided by Order IX Rule 9;
  • To rectify its own mistake;
  • To review an order passed in a petition under 226 of the Constitution;”
  • To stay an earlier suit, pending disposal of a subsequent suit;
  • To review an interlocutory order granted under s 151 of the Code of Civil for Procedure;
  • To grant police aid for the execution of a decree, or implementation of interim injunction order;
  • To consolidate a suit based on different claims or parties;
  • To pass a conditional order, providing for the dismissal of the suit, in case the order is not complied with;
  • To direct the parties to deposit additional fees to a Commissioner;
  • To enable a party to evade the law of limitation;
  • The court can, suo motu correct the arithmetical and clerical errors, during the course of the proceedings;

In the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction, if the court arrives at the resolution that an order of injunction has been breached, it may bring back the parties to the same position as if the order of injunction has not been violated.[16]

Instances where Court has no Inherent Power

Inherent powers can’t be practised in contradiction to the particular provisions of the code. The principles and practices relating to the levy of costs in administrative law matters can’t be imported precisely in connection to civil prosecution governed by the code. Provisions of the inherent power of the courts can’t be conjured to do indirectly what is not permitted to be done directly.

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;

In Cotton Corpn of India v. United Industrial Bank[17], “the Supreme Court held that the inherent power of the court can’t be conjured to invalidate or cripple a statutory provision.”

Check to Abuse of Power

In the Law Lexicon[18] the words abuse of procedure of the court, are characterized as:

“Abuse of process of the court is the malicious and improper use of some regular legal proceedings to obtain an unfair advantage over an opponent. Nothing short of obvious fraud on the part of a debtor would render him liable to have his petition for insolvency dismissed on the ground of abuse of process of the court.”

The term is usually used in reference to activity for utilizing some procedure of the court maliciously to the harm of somebody else.[19]

Madras High Court in Thathunaik v. Condu Reddi[20], abuse of process of court generally applies to proceed to want in bona fides and is frivolous, vexatious or oppressive. Making use of the process of court as a device to help the jurisdiction of a civil court is an abuse of the process of the court. Where the court is bound to grant an application and has no discretion to refuse it, it has no power to dismiss it on so treacherous a ground of decision, as an abuse of the process of the court.[21]

Additionally, wherever a decree of the first appeals court has turned out to be conclusive, by its not having been meddled with within the subsequent appeal, an application for stay of its execution, cannot be allowed on the ground, either on abuse of the procedure of court or in interests of ends of justice, solely in light of the actual fact that a review application against such an order is pending.[22]

Conclusion

In the wake of analysing the numerous cases and in the critiques which are given by authorities it very well may be said that the Inherent power is not absolute and it is optional in nature yet carefulness ought not to be utilized in a discretionary way.

As per Justice Subba Rao, the inherent power of the court is notwithstanding and complementary to the powers explicitly presented under the code. In any case, the power won’t be if it’s conflicting with or collides with any of the power explicitly or by the fundamental suggestion that no power will be practised in an arrangement. Whatever limitation is forced by development on the arrangement of section 151 of the code, they don’t control the undoubted power of the court presented under section 151 of the code to make an appropriate order to counteract the maltreatment of the procedure of the court.


[1] P Sirajuddin v. Government of Madras, AIR 1962 Mad 117

[2] Nain Singh v. Koonwajree, AIR 1970 SC 997

[3] State of UP v. Roshan Singh, (2008) 2 SCC 488

[4] National Bank Ltd. V. Dulal Kanti Chowdhary, 2010 (2) Cal LJ 360

[5] National Institute of DTH 7 N Sciences v. C Parmeshwara, AIR 2005 SC 243

[6] AIR 1962 SC 527

[7] Shipping Corpn of India Ltd v. Machado Brothers, AIR 2004 SC 2093

[8] AIR 1962 SC 527

[9] AIR 1966 SC 1899

[10] Mukand Lal v. Gaya Prasad, AIR 1935 All 599

[11] Surinder Kr v. Gian Chand, AIR 1957 SC 875

[12] AIR 1964 SC 993

[13] Ganesh Prasad v. Lakshmi Narayan, (1985) 3 SCC 53

[14] Jugal Kishore v. Dhanno Devi, (1973) 2 SCC 567

[15] United India Insurance Co. Ltd. V. Rajender Singh, AIR 2000 SC 1165

[16] Arjan Singh v. Punit Ahluwallia, (2008) 8 SCC 348

[17] (1983) 4 SCC 625

[18] Aiyar, P. Ramannatha (2001), The Law Lexicon, 2nd ed. (reprint), Lexis Nexis

[19] Tin Va v. Subya, 6 LBR 146

[20] 5 Mad LT 248

[21] Chhatrapat Singh v. Kharag Singh, 44 Cal 535

[22] Satyesh Dutt v. Munnoo Devi, AIR 1968 All 362


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Author: Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is a student at Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.