What is an Inherent Powers of Court?
Every law is made by the legislature to administer proper justice to an aggrieved party because to get a fair justice is one of the fundamental right of every person and for getting the justice, an aggrieved party can knock the doors of court and file a suit before the competent court so that proper justice may be administered to that aggrieved person.
If a person files a suit then it is duty of court to administer justice to that aggrieved party according the provisions of law. In India, there is “n” number of courts and every court is bound by the laws enacted by the legislature and court can administer the justice only by following above said laws.
It is true that a law does not emerge out itself. It takes many years to make a law. But on the other hand our society is dynamic in nature and it changes with the change in time. That is why, sometimes, situations arise where due to change in circumstances a court cannot follow the old laws because those laws lost their deterrent effect. In such situations, every court exercises its inherent powers and administers justice to aggrieved parties.
In the leading case of Manohar Lal Chopra v. Seth Hiralal, AIR 1962 SC 527, the Hon’ble court stated that every court is constituted for the purpose of administering justice between the parties and, therefore, must be deemed to possess, as a necessary corollary, all such powers as may be necessary to do the right and to undo the wrong in the course of administration of justice.
Basically the term “inherent” has not been explained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but according to Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2002) the term “Inherent” means “natural, 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.” Hence inherent powers are powers which may be exercised by a court to do full and complete justice between the parties before it.
In the leading case of Padam Sen v. State of U.P., AIR 1961 SC 218, the Hon’ble court stated that the inherent powers of the court are in addition to the powers specifically conferred on the court by the Code. They are complementary to those powers and the court is free to exercise them for the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of the process of the court.
Section 148 to 153 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, deals with the provisions of inherent powers of the court. According to section 151, every court has inherent powers which can be exercised to administer proper justice to the parties or to prevent the abuse of the process of the court and according to this section, these powers cannot be limited or affected by the other provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
In the leading case of State of W.B. v. Indira Debi, (1977) 3 SCC 559, the Hon’ble court stated that the inherent power has not been conferred upon the court; it is a power inherent in the court by virtue of its duty to do justice between the parties before it.
According to section 148 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, if any time period has been fixed by the court to do any act and the party does not do that act within that time period then in such case the court has power to extend that period upto thirty days.
In the leading case of Johri Singh v. Sukh Pal Singh, AIR 1989 SC 2073, the Hon’ble court held that the use of word ‘may’ in section 148 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, indicates that the power is discretionary and the court is therefore, entitled to take into account the conduct of the party praying for extension of time.
Moreover, the court has discretionary power to allow the party to pay the court fee at any stage of the suit even after the expiry of period prescribed to pay that fee and if the court allows the party to pay fee after the period of limitation and the party pays the fee then in such case it is considered that the party has paid the in the first instance. According to section 150 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, if business of any court has been transferred from that court to another court then in such case the court to which the business has been transferred can exercise all the powers which have been imposed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 upon the court whose business has been transferred.
According to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the court has power to correct any mistake in any judgment or decree passed by that court. Basically, after pronouncing the judgment the court has no power to change that judgment but if any clerical or arithmetical error detects in that judgment then in such case, the court has power to correct that mistake. Moreover, the court has power to amend any error or defect in any proceeding in a suit. It can amend it at any stage of the suit and the court will allow the amendment only to determine the real question or issue raised by that proceeding.
According to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, it is discretion of the court whether to allow the amendment or not. It is not mandatory for the court to allow the amendment. The court will exercise its discretion only if the court feels that it is necessary to determine the real question that is based upon the proceedings.
In the leading case of Arjun Singh v. Mohinder Kumar, AIR 1964 SC 993, the Hon’ble court stated that it is true that the inherent powers of the court are very wide and residuary in nature and they are in addition to the powers specifically conferred on the court by the Code. It is, however, equally true that these inherent powers can be exercised only in the absence of express provisions in the Code. They cannot be exercised in conflict with what had been expressly provided in the Code or against the intentions of the legislature.