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INTRODUCTION

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I would like to utilize this opportunity to extend gratitude to my esteemed Assistant Professor of Law of Civil Procedure II , Mr. Chandra Jagadeesh T.G., who has been a constant source of inspiration for me in the pursuance of this project. I would like to thank him for giving me this opportunity to expand my horizon in the field of Administrative Law. Sir has been gracious enough to guide me on the right path which has enabled me to strengthen my efforts. I shall not forget to acknowledge the opportunity to thank my batch mates who were always at my side in times of pressure and need. RUCHI RAMPURIA Registration no. 09b099 PRERNA MALHOTRA Registration no. 09b0

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ABBREVIATION

1. AIR . All India Reporter 2. Cal. ...Calcutta 3. Co. .... Company 4. CPC ... Code of Civil Procedure 5. i.e. ... that is 6. J. .... Justice 7. Or. .. Orissa 8. p. ... page 9. s. ....Section 10. SC Supreme Court 11. SCC ... Supreme Court Cases 12. Ss. ... Sections 13. v. .... versus

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RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Aims and Objectives The basic aim of this project is to look into the general principles relating to inherent powers vested in the Civil Court, the limitations imposed on the exercise of these powers and the parameter of these powers.

General Method of Analysis The project is descriptive and analytical in nature. Scope The Project deals with inherent powers of the civil court saved by section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code. Various case laws have been looked into in order to cull out the principles enunciated in these cases. The project deals with inherent powers in detail, certain instances of the exercise of these powers and recent judgment of the Supreme Court regarding this issue. Source of Data The project is entirely sourced from data which is secondary in nature. No empirical data has been used in this project. Style of Footnoting The project follows a consistent style of footnoting.

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INTRODUCTION

The fundamental purpose for which the courts exist and function is to resolve dispute in an amicable fashion. To achieve this purpose the massive justice delivery system is provided for in India. In order to ensure the smooth functioning of this justice delivery system and achieving its most sacred objective, i.e., to provide justice, the CPC has been enacted. However, it must be borne in mind that it is not possible for any legislation to be able to conceive of all the possible situations that might arise in future. Keeping in mind the essence of the CPC i.e., to facilitate the settlement of disputes and delivery of justice with least discomfort to the parties, the courts have the inherent powers to handle such situations which can be exercised by them to meet the ends of justice or to avoid the abuse of the process of the court. Section 151 of the CPC provides for the saving of the inherent powers of the court in order to meet the ends of justice or to avoid the abuse of the process of the court. However, neither of these phrases has been defined in the CPC. Therefore, in order to find their meaning we need to look into various case laws available on the matter. Apart from section 151, the other relevant sections dealing with inherent power of court are Ss. 148, 149, 152 and 153. Thus, in the first section it has been endeavored to deal with the principle of inherent powers in detail, i.e., the reason behind the saving of the inherent powers, ends of justice, abuse of the process of the court, the limitations on the exercise of these powers and other sections relevant t the topic in issue and then deal with certain instances of the exercise of these powers. In the end, some recent judgments of the Supreme Court dealing with the issue have been discussed.

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INHERENT POWERS OF A CIVIL COURT, ITS PURPOSE AND REASONING

The fundamental reason for the existence of a massive justice system in India is to provide justice in a just and equitable manner. However, it is humanly impossible to contemplate every possible situation and legislate accordingly. Thus, to meet such situations it is essential that the courts should be provided such inherent powers, which can be exercised judiciously by courts when such situations arise within certain obvious boundaries. Raghubar Dayal, J., has affirmed this notion in Manohar Lal v. Seth Hiralal1 stating that every court is constituted to provide justice in accordance with the law, and therefore, they must be deemed to posses, as a necessary corollary, all the powers that may be necessary to do the right and undo the wrong in the course of administration of justice. The CPC is adjective law thus keeping in mind that s. 151 of the CPC saves the inherent powers of the court, the provisions of the CPC, therefore, must be interpreted in such a manner so as to meet the ends of justice and also to prevent the abuse of process of the court. The inherent powers of the courts are exercised in addition to the powers specifically conferred on the court under the Code2. In Nowdoganj Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Union of India 3the learned court opined that the inherent power has its roots in necessity and its breadth is co-extensive with the necessity. Justice C.K. Thakker has termed this inherent power to be complementary to the powers conferred upon the court by the CPC and the courts are free to exercise them for the end of justice or to prevent the abuse of the processes of the courts4.

1 2 3 4

AIR 1962 SC 527 Ibid AIR 1967 SC 1152 Justice C.K. Thakker, Civil Procedure, 4th edition, Eastern Book Company, 2000.

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I. THE REASONS FOR SAVING OF INHERENT POWERS UNDER SECTION 151 OF THE CPC As mentioned earlier, it is humanly impossible to contemplate about all the possible situations that might come up for adjudication. Therefore, it has been assumed that the CPC is also not a completely exhaustive Code. Thus, keeping in mind that the law cannot make express provisions against all predicaments so that they cam deal expressly with all the cases that may probably happen, it is essential for the courts to have certain inherent powers in order to meet the ends of justice. However, it must be kept in mind that s. 151 of the CPC does not confer any power but only indicates that there is a power to make such orders as it may be necessary for meting out justice and to prevent an abuse to the process of the court. As Justice Raghubar Dayal appropriately opined: The inherent powers of the court have not been conferred upon the court; it is a power inherent in the court by the virtue of its duty to do justice between the parties before it.5

II. TO MEET THE ENDS OF JUSTICE The inherent powers saved by the section 151 are to be used only to secure the ends of justice or to prevent is miscarriage6. The words ends of justice have not been defined in the CPC; however, D.V. Chitaley has set forth the following criteria to determine what constitutes the ends of justice: y It is in the ends if justice that an inquiry should be remedied and needless expense and inconvenience to parties avoided. y It will not be in the ends of justice to exercise inherent powers if it would interfere with the rights of the third party or cause mischief or injury.5 6

Supra, note 1. A.C. Estates v. Serajuddin, AIR 1966 SC 935

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y

It will not be in the ends of justice to assist a party guilty of laches in consequence of which new rights have arisen against him.7

However, this criterion is not a rigid one and ultimately what would meet ends of justice would always depend on the facts and circumstances of each case and requirements of justice.8

III. TO PREVENT THE ABUSE OF THE PROCESS OF THE COURT The term to prevent the abuse of the process of the court has not been defined in the CPC just like the phrase to meet the ends of justice. But an insight on the matter can be gained by looking into the various judicial pronouncements. For instance, where the rules of procedure are so used as to give mere formality, the significance of a substantive effort, it will be a case of the abuse of the process of court and the court has inherent power to prevent such an abuse.

A) ABUSE OF THE PROCESS OF THE COURT BY THE COURT An abuse of the process of the court may be committed by the court or by the parties. In the landmark Privy Council judgment, Debi Baksh v. Habib Shah9, the court of the Deputy Commissioner of Oudh had dismissed a suit for default of appearance of the plaintiff who was in fact dead at the time the order was made. On the first appeal, the Judicial Commissioner upheld the decision. When the case went to the Privy Council in appeal, Lord Shaw, after stating that the rules and orders applicable to defaulters cannot be applied to a dead man, observed that this was an abuse of the process of the court as stated in s. 151 by the office of the Judicial Commissioner. There can be no better case for the application of the inherent powers on order to avoid the abuse of the process of court. The court ruled that if the courts use a mere procedure to end up doing something that they never intended to do, it is an abuser of the process of the court. B) ABUSE OF THE PROCESS OF THE COURT BY THE PARTIES7 8 9

D.V. Chitaley et al., The Code of Civil Procedure, 8th edition, Nagpur: All India Reporter Publications, 1971 AIR 1961 PC 151 Supra, note 4 at p. 238

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A party litigating may also be guilty of the abuse of the process of the court in various cases, for e.g., gaining an unfair advantage by the rule of procedure, retention of a benefit wrongly gained, instituting vexatious, obstructive or dilatory actions, executing a decree manifestly at variance with its purpose and intent, institution of a puppet plaintiff. 10 However, no act done or proceedings taken as of right and in due course of law is an abuse of the process of the court simply because such acts or a proceeding is likely to embarrass another.

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Supra, note 8 at p. 401

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LIMITATION TO THE EXERCISE OF INHERENT POWERS There are two general principles which need to be kept in mind while exercising the inherent powers. These are: y y Courts cannot override express provisions of law. Courts cannot override general principles of law.

The inherent powers of the court are an addition to and complementary to the powers expressly conferred under the code. But that power will not be exercised if its exercise is inconsistent with, or comes in conflict with, any of the powers expressly or necessary implication conferred by the other provisions of the code.11 If there are express provisions exhaustively covering a particular topic that gives rise to a necessary implication that no power will be exercised with respect to the said topic otherwise than in the manner prescribes in the said provision.12 Similarly, under the inherent power of the court recognized by section 151 the court has no power to do what is prohibited by the code. Inherent jurisdiction of the court must be exercised subject to the rule that if the code contains specific provisions, which would meet the necessities of the case, such provisions should be followed and inherent jurisdiction should not be invoked. The test, therefore, is to see whether section 15` applies to a particular case is whether it falls within or outside the ambit of the provisions of the statute. In the former case, the court cannot exercise any inherent power, as it has none. In the latter case, it would have inherent power to pass any order as may be necessary to meet the ends of justice. Whatever limitations may be imposed on the interpretation on the provision of S. 151, they do not control the undoubted power of the court to make a suitable order to prevent the abuse of the process of the court. However, no party has any right to insist on the court exercising its inherent powers. It can only be user at the courts discretion at the interest of justice.

11 12

M.C. Sarkar, Civil Court Practice: Procedure and Manual, 10th edition, Nagpur, Wadhwa and Co., 1997 at p. 459 Nain Singh v. Kunwarjee, AIR 1970 SC 997

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One important aspect of the inherent powers is that they are with respect to procedure followed by the court in deciding the case before it.13 It is not a power over the substantive rights that the litigant possesses.

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Padam Sen v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1961 SC 218

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OTHER SECTIONS OF THE CPC DEALING WITH THE INHERENT POWERS OF THE COURT Though the inherent powers is vested on the court by the virtue of section 151 of the code, but for a better understanding of the same, it is necessary to look into other sections which are relevant to the same. I. SECTION 148

This section provides that where any period is fixed or granted by the court for doing of any act, the court has the power to enlarge the period even if the original fixed period has expired. Thus, if a court can in the exercise of its jurisdiction, grant time to do a thing, the jurisdiction to grant time would include in its ambit the jurisdiction to extend the time initially fixed by it. The power, though, is discretionary and thus the court should take into account the conduct of the party who is praying for the extension and whether it will serve the ends of justice.14 II. SECTION 149

This section empowers the court to allow a party to make up the deficiency of the court fees payable on the plaint, memorandum of appeal etc. even after the expiry of the period of limitation prescribed for the filing of such a suit. Section 149 of the Code proviso to the rule that no document chargeable with the court fee can be filed in the court without the requisite payment being made, by allowing the deficiency to be made good within a period fixed by it. III. SECTION 152 AND 153

Section 152 enacts that clerical or arithmetical mistakes in judgments, decrees or orders arising from any accidental slip or omission may at any time be corrected by the court either of its own motion or on the application of any of the parties.15 The section is based on two important principles: 1) An act of court should not prejudice any party, i.e., actus curiar neminem gravabit;

14 15

Johri Singh v. Sukh Pal Singh, (1989) 4 SCC 403 Master Construction Co. v. State of Orissa, AIR 1966 SC 1165

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2) It is the duty of the courts to see that their records are true and represent the correct state of affairs.

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EXERCISE OF THE INHERENT POWERS BY THE COURT Though the code does not mention any case expressly, there can be numerous cases where the inherent powers might be exercised, however while exercising these powers, the judge needs to take a great amount of restraint and should make sure that either the ends of justice are being met or the abuse of the process of the court is being prevented. The following are the situations where the inherent powers can be exercised I. STAY OF SUIT

The court can grant a stay by the exercise of its inherent powers. A person who habitually and persistently instituted vexatious proceedings may be declared a vexatious litigant and an order may be made precluding him from bringing further legal proceedings without the leave. Proceedings instituted by such persons may be stayed. The court also has the inherent power to stay and dismiss proceedings, which are an abuse of its proceedings. This jurisdiction may be exercised where facts are proved by affidavit which shows an abuse of the process of the court. II. INJUNCTION

There was a difference of opinion whether the court can grant temporary injunction in the exercise of its inherent powers, when there are specific provisions dealing with them in the Code in section 94 and order 39. This dispute was put to rest by the Supreme Court in the case of Manohar Lal v. Seth Hiralal16. The Apex Court in a 3-1 majority decided that the court has such power in the circumstances that are not covered by the provisions of Order 39, and if it is of the opinion that the interests of justice require the issuing of such an injunction. However, if any rules under Order 39 are applicable to the case, then inherent power cannot be exercised in the case. III. AMENDMENT OF DECREE

A court may, apart from section 152, may by virtue of its inherent power alter or vary the order and the decree passed by it although the decree is apparently not inconsistent with the order in the judgment. For example, in a case where people were names as defendants but only defendant16

AIR 1962 SC 527

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number 1 was the contesting defendant. The ordering portion of the suit said that the suit be decreed with cost, the order can be amended to expressly state that only defendant no. 1 is liable as that was the true intention of the judgment.17 Mistakes such as description of the parties18 and the description of the suit property19 may be rectified under the inherent powers of the court. Basically, the court has the power to amend the decree so as to bring it in conformity with what was intended in the judgment. If a mistake in the order is rectified, the courts have the power to order the restitution of the benefits received under the wrong order.

17 18 19

Sagua v. Bichinta, AIR 1966 Or. 225 Nathuram v. Arjuna, AIR 1954 MB 14 Satya Ranjan v. Sauhsini Dasi, AIR 1998 Cal. 763

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RECENT JUDICIAL DELEBRATIONS The recent judgments have been looked into in relation to inherent powers of the court. I. P.A. Ahmed Ibrahim v. Food Corporation of India20 In this case the question of the limits of the power of the inherent powers of the court came up before the Supreme Court. In this case, the appellant contractor entered into an agreement with the respondent for recovery of certain sum of money. In response, the respondents filed an application under section 20 of the Arbitration Act praying for the institution of arbitration proceedings. The trial court dismissed this application on the ground that it did not disclose any dispute referable to arbitration. The plaintiff then applied for the application for arbitration to be converted into a plaint for the recovery of certain sum of money. The trial court dismissed this appeal, against which the respondents appealed to the High Court, which allowed the appeal under inherent powers of the court. Aggrieved by this order, the appellant approached the Supreme Court. The Court allowed the appeal. Justice Wadhwa opined that there was no scope for exercising the inherent powers of the court, as it would have resulted in nullifying of the procedures prescribed by the Code. Moreover, as the application was barred by limitation, here the court was doing through the exercise of inherent power that which was expressly barred by law. II. BUDHIA SWAIN v. GOPINATH DEB21 In this case, the respondent, a deity has made an application for settlement under Orissa Estates Abolition Act, 1951, which was granted by the Estate Abolition collection. However, a few residents of the villages in question challenge the order on the ground that they were not served mandatory notice as provided for in the statute. On this application the EA Collector reviewed his order and declared the earlier order null and void. The respondent appealed against this order in the High Court of Orissa stating that the EA Collector did not have any power to recall his own order. The High Court allowed the appeal, and therefore the matter came in before Supreme Court.20 21

(1999) 7 SCC 39 (1999) 4 SCC 396

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Justice R.C Lahoti, opined that a court has a power to recall its own order under its inherent powers. The apex court held that the court has inherent power to recall and set aside an order: y y y Obtained by fraud practiced upon the court, When the court is misled by the parties, or When the court itself commits a mistake, which prejudices a party

III. IN RE, K A JUDICIAL OFFICER22 In this case, the inherent powers were used for a different purpose. In this case, a judge of the subordinate court was faced with disparaging and undeserved remarks from a high court. Justice Lahoti held that the judicial officer was not without remedy. He may approach the high court seeking expunction of the objectionable remark under its inherent powers.

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(2001) 3 SCC 54

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CONCLUSION After the detailed research, a few questions could be answered through this project. They are as follows: y After looking at a wide variety of case laws, the fact that the inherent powers in not absolute is clearly evident. Though it is discretionary in nature the discretion is not to be exercised in an arbitrary manner. y The inherent powers can be exercised ex debito justitiae only in the absence of express provision of the Code. y 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 courts by the Code. However, there are limitations with respect to the said topic otherwise than the manner prescribed by the said provision. y The inherent powers are to be exercised by the court in very exceptional circumstances. Thus, in the exercise of inherent powers by the court in very exceptional circumstances. Thus, in the exercise of inherent powers the court cannot give itself the jurisdiction not in it by law. y Amongst all the limitations one of the most significant limitation on the use of inherent powers is that the court, while exercising the inherent powers should not affect the substantive rights of any parties. This is because the inherent powers preserved by section 151 of the CPC are with respect to the procedure to be followed by the courts in deciding the cause before it. These powers are not powers over the substantive right, which any litigant possesses.

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REFERENCE I. BOOKS 1. 2. D.F. Mulla. The Civil Procedure Code, 12th edition, Bombay, 1990. D.V. Chitaley et al., The Code of Civil Procedure, 8th edition, Nagpur: All India Reporter Publications, 1971. 3. 4. Justice C.K. Thakker, Civil Procedure, 4th edition, Eastern Book Company, 2000. M.C. Sarkar, Civil Court Practice: Procedure and Manual, 10th edition, Nagpur, Wadhwa and Co., 1997

II. CASES 1. A.C. Estates v. Serajuddin, AIR 1966 SC 935 2. Budhia Swain v. Gopinath Deb, (1999) 4 SCC 396 3. Debi Baksh v. Habib Shah, AIR 1961 PC 151 4. In re, K A Judical Officer, (2001) 3 SCC 54 5. Johri Singh v. Sukh Pal Singh, (1989) 4 SCC 403 6. Manohar Lal v. Seth Hiralal, AIR 1962 SC 527 7. Master Construction Co. v. State of Orissa, AIR 1966 SC 1165 8. Nain Singh v. Kunwarjee, AIR 1970 SC 997 9. Nathuram v. Arjuna, AIR 1954 MB 14 10. Nowdoganj Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, AIR 1967 SC 1152 11. P.A. Ahmed Ibrahim v. Food Corporation of India, (1999) 7 SCC 39 12. Padam Sen v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1961 SC 218 13. Sagua v. Bichinta, AIR 1966 Or. 225 14. Satya Ranjan v. Sauhsini Dasi, AIR 1998 Cal. 763

III. STATUTES 1. Arbitration Act, 1996 2. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 3. Estate Abolition Act, 1951

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