This Article is written by Aparna Chaki, student of Heritage Law College (Calcutta University).
The term ‘inherent’ has a broad connotation in itself. It denotes something that is inextricable from something, a perpetual element or attribute, an indispensable component, an ingrained or a prerequisite condition entrusted or conferred to a person or office as a prerogative. In this regard, inherent powers of the Court may be described as such powers that are absolute and unassailable from the Courts. Such powers may be exercised by the Courts to bring veritable justice between the disputed parties. In other words, such inherent powers of the Court aids in curtailing litigation, circumvent plurality of proceedings, and furnish justice to the parties before it. The Supreme Court, High Courts, and other Civil, as well as Criminal Courts, are vested with inherent powers.
INHERENT POWERS OF THE SUPREME COURT UNDER THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
The Indian Constitution under Article 136 endows the Supreme Court with extensive powers like it may through its discretionary power grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence, or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India. The Apex Court further has an exclusive jurisdiction to decide upon the election disputes of the Vice President and the President of the country. Under Article 142, the Supreme Court can exercise power to do complete justice among the parties and in the process has a right to pass any decree, order, or judgment as required. The term ‘complete justice’ imbued under Article 142(1) is a wide term formulated with the flexibility to meet innumerable conditions furnished by human inventiveness or outcome of effectiveness of statute law or law mentioned under Articles 36, 136 and 141 of our Constitution and cannot be plagiarized or boxed within any limitations or terminology.
It is a well-established fact that any law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court is binding on all other courts as well as tribunals across the country. The Apex Court has been honored with such powers to make certain that the court does not get incurred with jurisdictional arduousness while doing justice between the disputed parties before it. Usage of Article 142 of the Constitution appurtenances the powers hitherto granted to the Supreme Court which certifies that justice is delivered and in the process, the Court is not subdued by lack of jurisdiction or authority of law. In the absence of corresponding provisions, High Courts and other tribunals are devoid of such similar powers. The Apex Court thus becomes the sole repository of such comprehensive powers.
Nevertheless, the extent and bounds of the Supreme Court’s power under Article 142 has been predisposed to judicial scrutiny. The question that often arises, in this case, is that whether an order made under Article 142, with its entity as a constitutional provision, could quash express statutory provision. The Apex Court has always been of the view that powers conferred to it under Article 142 should not be put to use in such a way that it violates an express statutory provision purveying alone with the subject. This view was asserted in the case of M.C. Mehta v. Kamal Nath where the Court held that Article 142 cannot be pinned into service in circumstances where the particular article would result in infringement of specific provisions of the Act.
The present predicament in law can be judiciously encapsulated that Article 142 being a constitutional provision can override any statutory provision. Realistically, however, the Court does not put its powers to use under Article 142 in straight conflict with any express statutory provisions pertaining to the ongoing case. This is a voluntary curtailment but the Apex Court can detour the same if impartial ruminations dictate. The Court must therefore attempt to give priority to statutory provisions and only in certain cases where regard to absolute justice is made, the Court may proceed with an order addressing statutory provisions. This particular move is an attempt to curtailing in contrast to dilating the inherent powers conferred to the Supreme Court under Article 142.
INHERENT POWERS OF THE HIGH COURTS UNDER CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE, 1973
One of the indispensable purposes of criminal law is to safeguard people and society against criminals and law-breakers. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 contains expatiated methods following which the Courts can award punishment to the offenders. However, the Code does not furnish any particular provision to conclave the requisites of the situation. In order to meet these requisites, the Courts are vested with inherent powers to give judgment to procure justice. Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 confers upon inherent powers to the High Courts. There are majorly three reasons why High Courts can exercise their inherent powers – (a) In order to set forth effect to an order under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (b) To intercept the perversion of the process of the Court (c) To make sure that justice is attained.
The Supreme Court in the case of Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra laid down certain principles that would exercise control over the inherent jurisdiction of the High Courts as mentioned in Section 482 of the Code.
- If there is a specific provision in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for the indemnification of the aggrieved party, then, in this case, the inherent powers of the Court shall not be resorted to.
- The inherent powers of the Court should be availed to impede the process of the Court or attaining justice.
- These powers cannot be exercised next to the express bar of the law disseminated in any other provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The power endowed upon the Court under Section 482 should be put to use ex debito justitae. The Court in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Arun Gulab Gawali held that the provisions mentioned under Section 482 are for the purpose to promote justice and not circumvent it. Under this particular section, the High Courts are given the powers to quash any FIR, investigation or criminal proceedings that remain pending before them or any other subordinate tribunals which are of broad enormity and implication. Such powers are neither restricted nor retrenched by any other provisions of the Code. Nevertheless, these powers have to be used frugally and with circumspection.
INHERENT POWERS OF THE HIGH COURT UNDER CIVIL PROCEDURE CODE, 1908
The Civil Procedure Code, 1908 also grants some inherent powers of the Court under Section 148 to Section 153A that deals with the exercise of powers in various circumstances like grant or enlargement of time, transfer of business, protecting the inherent power of the Court as well as amendments in judgments, orders or decrees in different proceedings. Under Section 151 of the CPC, the Court has inherent or discretionary powers to make such orders which are not given in phase of laws for the protection of justice or to inspect abuse of the process of the Court. The inherent powers of the Court are profound and substantial for the ambit of lessening litigation, elude plurality of proceedings, and to furnish absolute justice to the parties before it.
However, there are certain limitations while exercising the inherent powers of the Court under CPC which are – (a) It can be applied in limited or extraordinary cases. (b) These powers cannot be applied in disputes that have been expressly mentioned in the Code. (c) The parties’ substantive rights shall not be abrogated. (d) While making use of such powers, the Court has to adhere to the procedures as laid down by the Legislature (d) To observe the principle of Res Judicata and therefore not attend to the cases that have already been decided entirely.
As the world is progressing, so is our legal system. Every Court established in this country is devised for the purpose to serve justice. In the process of delivering justice, the Court is deemed to acquire such powers as required. The Court possesses the inherent powers in order to impede the misuse of the process of the Court. Article 142 is often used by the Supreme Court as a tool to exercise complete justice. It has always straightened up to the instance to guarantee that the primacy of law is abounding, yet its stern cohesion does not harm anyone. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 the inherent powers of the Court are advantageous as it discourages people from filing complaints in relation to fabricated cases so that their personal resentment is fulfilled. Even under the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 the Courts are given inherent powers but are cramped by certain limitations. To sum up, inherent powers granted to both Supreme Court and High Courts are of substantial use for both the Courts as well as the general public provided it is used vigilantly.
- Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court, CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, https://www.constitutionofindia.net/constitution_of_india/the_union/articles/Article%20136#:~:text=Special%20leave%20to%20appeal%20by%20the%20Supreme%20Court.&text=(1)%20Notwithstanding%20anything%20in%20this,in%20the%20territory%20of%20India.
- James Duke Careon, The Inherent Power of a State’s Highest Court to Discipline the Judiciary, CHICAGO-KENT LAW REVIEW (1977).
- M.C. Mehta v. Kamal Nath, 6 SCC 213, 233 (2006).
- Parul Soni, Inherent Powers of High Court, LAW TIMES JOURNAL (Nov. 21, 2018), https://lawtimesjournal.in/inherent-powers-of-high-court/.
- Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978 SC 47.
- State of Maharashtra v. Arun Gulab Gawali, AIR 2010 SC 3762 (2010) 9 SCC 701.
- Pushkraj Deshpande, India: Overview of Section 482 Cr.P.C Vis-à-vis The Landmark Judgments of the Supreme Court of India, MONDAQ (May 01. 2018), https://www.mondaq.com/india/trials-appeals-compensation/697362/overview-of-section-482-crpc-vis-vis-the-landmark-judgments-of-the-supreme-court-of-india.