Inherent Powers of Civil Courts
S.151 C.P-C provided that “nothing in this code shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the court to make such order as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the court”.
Laws are general rules and they cannot regulate for all times to come so as to make express provisions against all the case that may possibly happen. It is the duty of the judge to apply the laws, not only to what appears to be regulated by their express disposition but to all the cases to which a just application of them may be made and which appears to be contemplated either within the express sense of the law or within the consequence that may be gathered from it. As observed by Mahmod J. “Courts are not to act upon the principle that every procedure is to be taken to be prohibited unless it is expressly provided for the court, but on the converse principle that every procedure is to be understood as permissible till it is shown to be prohibited by law. As a matter of general principle, prohibition cannot be presumed.
The rules framed under the code are for the advancement of justice and should not be allowed to operate so as to defeat the ends of justice. The provisions of S.151 are intended to prevent the court being rendered impotent by any omission in the code and empower the court to make necessary order and no other order.
Applicability of S.151
The provisions of S.151 will be attracted, firstly, where the case is not covered by the express provisions of the code, and secondly the procedure as laid down and provided is being abused so as to obstruct the ends of justice.
Principles guiding courts
In the exercise of its inherent powers u/s 151 the court will be guided by the following rules.
- The inherent powers can only be exercised where there is no express provision of law applicable to the case and as such where the express provision of law is applicable the court will not invoke its inherent jurisdiction.
- Where the code has prescribed any procedure for the doing of a thing, such procedure is to be followed, for the provisions of the code are exhaustive in so far as they prescribe a particular procedure.
- Where there is a specific prohibition of a particular act, the court cannot circumvent the prohibition in the exercise of its inherent powers. For instance, the court cannot entertain an appeal against a non appealable orders.
- Inherent powers cannot be exercised so as to conflict with the general principles of law or further injustice or condone gross negligence.
Ends of Justice
It is for the ends of justice that an injury should be remedied and expense and inconvenience to parties be avoided. Accordingly, the court can rehear a matter before, passing a final order, consolidate suits or appeal or order their simultaneous disposal or stay cross suits on ground of convenience, correct its own mistake.
Where a party has anther remedy available and does not adopt it, or fails to pursue it, it will not be necessary for the ends of justice to grant relief u/s 151 as for instance, where an alternative remedy is available by way of suit, or appeal or review.
It will not further the ends of justice to exercise inherent powers it if it would interfere with the rights of third parties, or to assist a party guilty of laches.
Abuse of the process of Court
Where a court by employing a procedure does something that it never intended and there is miscarriage of justice, the court possess inherent powers to rectify such mistake, as an act of court should not prejudice any person. Such an abuse may arise either by the act or omission of the court itself or its officer or as a result of fraud or misrepresentation by a party. The following are examples of the abuse of process by the court which can be corrected in the exercise of inherent powers.
- Making an adverse order inadvertently without notice to the party.
- Passing an order in ignorance of the law governing the matter.
- Rectify and correct omissions.
- Quash a false and frivolous proceedings.
- Ex-parte decree on the basis of faulty return of summons.