The court’s inherent power has been granted under Section 148-153B of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). This article will discuss inherent power under Section 151 of CPC when the court can exercise its inherent power, the limitations of inherent powers, and how Section 151 of CPC differs from Section 482 of Cr. P.C?
What is the inherent power of the court under Section 151 of CPC?
As the word suggests, “inherent” means ‘in-built’ or ‘natural’. The court has some powers that are inherent and not specified in any provisions. These powers are granted to the court in the interest of justice under Section 151 of CPC.
Section 151 of CPC states that the court’s inherent powers cannot be restricted or affected where it is necessary to make laws to meet the end of justice or to prevent the abuse of process of the court.
The essential elements of Section 151 of CPC are:
- End of justice
- Abuse of process of the court
Manohar lal Vs Seth Hiralal (1962)
This landmark case has defined the ‘inherent power’ of the court, stating that the inherent powers are not vested; they are in-built. The inherent powers come into force only in case there are no specific provisions of the court or lack of any procedures.
When can the court exercise the court’s inherent power under Section 151 of CPC?
The court can exercise the inherent power in any of the following circumstances:
a) Where the legislature is incapable of framing any law that could cover all the possible circumstances of the case, the court can exercise its inherent power.
b) Where there is no express provision in the code, the court can use its inherent powers.
c) To scrutinize, rehear or re-examine its orders and make corrections of any errors.
d) To set aside any orders passed beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
e) To erase any remarks made against any judge.
f) To continue ‘in camera’ trial or prevent proceedings from being disclosed.
g) To pass an injunction order if the matter is not included under Order 39.
h) To pass an ex parte order against the person.
The inherent power of the court has been mentioned under Section 148 -153B of CPC
- Section 148 of CPC states that the court has the discretion to extend the time granted to conduct any act that the court orders.
- Section 149 of CPC deals with the payment of court fees even after the expiry of the limitation period.
- Section 150 of CPC states the transfer of the court’s business or any matter is transferred to other courts.
- Section 151 of CPC deals with the inherent powers of the court.
- Section 152-153 B provides for the amendments in any order, decree, or court judgment.
Scope of section 151 of CPC
The court had laid down the scope of Section 151 of CPC in K.K. Velusamy Vs N. Palanisamy:
1)Section 151 of CPC is not a substantive law (i.e., explicit) that gives or assigns the powers or creates any jurisdiction to the court. It only acknowledges the discretionary power in every court that can be exercised according to the law, do what is right, and undo what is wrong (prevent abuse of its process).
2) Where the code does not have any express or implied provisions that cover all the circumstances of the matter, the court can exercise its inherent powers under Section 151 of CPC to meet the end of justice.
3) The court cannot use its inherent powers to contravene the procedure or remedy specified in the code.
4) When the exercise of the court’s inherent power does not contravene the legislature’s intention, and there are no specific provisions to cover the matter.
5) The inherent power should not be considered carte blanche (means full discretionary power) to grant any relief. In other words, the court should exercise the inherent powers cautiously.
6) The inherent power should only be exercised if there are no specific provisions in the code. It is necessary to meet the end of justice and prevent the abuse of the court process. The bona fides of the person cannot be doubted.
Limitations on inherent powers of the court under Section 151 of CPC
The court’s inherent powers, depending on the wisdom and discretion of the court, have some limitations.
The court cannot exercise its inherent power in the following situations:
- Where there are explicit and detailed provisions in the code.
- If the situation is not rare or exceptional.
- Beyond the procedure laid down by the legislature.
- Against the principle of Res Judicata (means matters already decided by the court)
- To take away the substantive rights of the person.
- Matters which are beyond its jurisdictions
Difference between Section 151 CPC and Section 482 CrPC
Section 151 CPC provides for inherent powers that can be exercised by any court whereas, Section 482 of CrPC is restricted only to the High Court.
Section 482 of CrPC states that the High Court has the inherent power to pass any order to meet the end of justice, prevent the abuse of the court’s process and give effect to any order under CrPC.
The inherent power of the court is given under Section 151 of CPC. This power can be exercised by any court to meet the end of justice and prevent the abuse of the court process. The inherent power of the High Court is given under 482 of CrPC. The court’s inherent power cannot be exercised in the presence of explicit provisions of the code.