The Inherent Power of Courts in Indian Judiciary


Our legal system tired to make code[1] very exhaustive and complete in every respect but if court finds that the code has not made specific provision to meet the exigencies of any situation, the Court of law has inherent power to mould the procedure to enable it to pass such orders as the end of justice require.

                      The main objectives while exercising inherent power recognised under Section 482 of Cr.PC and Section 151 of CPC are powers are to be exercised only for end of justice and to prevent abuse of the Courts.

Section 482 of Cr.PC:

Saving of Inherent power of High Court: Nothing in this code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of high court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Courts or otherwise to secure the end of justice.

          Under section 482 of Cr.PC the High Courts of India have power to quash an FIR. Courts possessed this power even before the Criminal procedure code enacted. Added as section 482 by an amendment in 1923, it is a reproduction of the section 561(A) of the 1898 code. Under section 482 of Cr.PC only High Courts have power to quash the FIR. When High Courts satisfied that an order passed under the Code would be rendered ineffective or  that the process of any court would be abused or that the end of justice would not be secured that the High Court can and exercise its powers under section 482 of this Code.

Conditions for use of Inherent Power;

1.      The jurisdiction is not completely discretionary. The high court can refuse to use the power.

2.      The jurisdiction is not limited to cases that are pending before high Court. It can consider any case that comes to its notice (in appeal, revision or otherwise).

3.      This power can be invoked only in an event when the aggrieved party is being unnecessary harassed and has no other remedy open to it.

4.      The High Court has power to provide relief to accused even if he/she has not filed a petition under section 482

5.      The High Court under section 482 does not conduct a trial or appreciate evidence. The exercise of this power is limited to cases that compel it to intervene for preventing a palpable abuse of a legal process.

6.      This power cannot be exercised if the trial is pending before the apex court and it has directed the session judge to issue a non-bailable warrant for arresting the petitioners.

7.      The power under section 482 is not intended to scuttle justice at the threshold but to secure justice.

8.      This power has to be exercised sparingly with circumspection and in the rarest of rare cases but cannot be held that it should be exercised in the rarest of rare case – The expression rarest of rare case may be exercised where death penalty is to be imposed under section 302 of IPC but this expression cannot be extended to a petitioner under section 482 0f Cr.PC.

9.      So long as inherent power of section 482 Cr.PC is in statue the exercised of such power not impermissible.

10.  In exercise of the power court would be justified to quash any proceeding if it finds that initiation or continuance of it amount to abuse of process of courts or quashing of these proceedings would otherwise serve the ends of justice.

11.  Where the accused would be harassed unnecessarily if the trial is allowed to linger when prima facie it appears to the court that the trial would likely to be ended in acquittal.

12.  In proceedings instituted on complaint, exercise of inherent powers under section 482 of Cr.PC to quash the proceedings is called for only in case where the complaint dies not disclose any offence or is frivolous, vexations or oppressive. If the allegations set out in the complaint do not constitute the offence of which cognizance has been taken by the magistrate, it is open to the High Court to quash the same.

13.  When a complaint is sought to be quashed it is permissible to look into the materials to access what the complaint has alleged and whether any offence is made out even if the allegations are accepted in there to.

14.  All courts whether civil or criminal possess in the absence of any express provisions as inherent  in their constitution all such powers as are necessary to do the right and to undo a wrong in course of administration of justice.

Judicial Decision;

In Prabatbhai Aahir & Ors. V. State of Gujarat & Anr. Cr. Appeal no.1723 of 2017, Supreme Court issue guidelines on quashing FIR /Criminal Proceeding on the ground of settlement between parties.

Section 151 0f Civil Procedure Code:

Saving of inherent powers of Courts; Nothing in this code shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the court to make such orders as may be necessary for the end of justice, or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court.  

                      Section 151 gives no right to a party to make an application. It gives power to the Court to pass such orders as think fit.

Conditions of Inherent Power;

1.      To consolidate suits and appeals including appeals to the Supreme Court.

2.      To postpone the hearing of suits pending the decision of a selected action or where some of the issues are common in another pending suit.

3.      To stay cross suits on the ground of convenience.

4.      To allow a defence in forma pauperis.

5.      To entertain the application of a third person to be made a party.

6.      To stay the carrying out of a preliminary order pending appeal.

7.      To restrain by injunction a person from proceeding with a suit in another court.

8.      To apply the principles of res judicata to cases not falling within section 11 of the code.

Judicial Decision:

In K.K Velusamy v. N. Palanisamy, (2011) 11 SCC275, Section 151 of CPC is not a substantive provision which creates or confers any power or jurisdiction on Courts. It merely recognises the discretionary power inherent in every court as necessary corollary 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.

In Ram Chand and Sons Sugar Mills v. Kanhayalal (1961) S.C.R884 the Supreme Court held that court would not exercise its inherent power under section 151 of CPC if it was inconsistent with the powers expressly or impliedly conferred by other provision of the Code. It had opined that the court had an undoubted power to make a suitable order to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court.



[1] CPC and Cr.PC



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here