Inherent Powers of High Court

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Inherent Powers of High Court

The Indian Criminal System aims to protect society against the offenders and punish them according to law. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the Court is empowered to punish the accused. The Code has prescribed the elaborated procedure in every aspect however, it does not provide any specific provision to meet the exigencies of the situation. To meet this extengencies the Courts have inherent powers to pass the judgment requires to secure the ends of justice.

Section 482 of the Code provides inherent powers to High Courts.

Background of Section 482

Section 482 particularly deals with the saving of inherent powers of the High Court. The section saves inherent powers of High Court and prohibits all such things which limit or curtails such power. The inherent power oh High Court can be exercised:

  1. To give effect to an order under the Code; or
  2. To prevent abuse of the process of Court; or
  3. To secure the ends of justice.

The section provides the specific provisions where the inherent powers can be exercised. No such power can be exercised other than those which are specifically provided. Also, these powers cannot be invoked where any specific provision for a particular case is made. The section in its very sense talks to save the powers, however, on the other hand, it limits the power by prescribing the specific provisions where these powers can be exercised.

The inherent powers exist and in its wide scope, it is a rule of practice that will only be exercised in exceptional cases.[1] The Supreme Court in Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra,[2] has held that the following principles would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction of High Court given by section 482:

  1. The power is not to be resorted to if there is a specific provision in the Code for the redress of the grievance of the aggrieved party;
  2. It should be exercised very sparingly to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure to the ends of justice;
  3. It should not be exercised as against the express bar of the law engrafted in any other provision of the Code.

Power to be exercised ex debito justitiae

The power conferred by section 482 should be exercised ex debito justitiae. In State of Maharashtra v. Arun Gulab Gawali,[3] the Court held that the provisions of section 482 are meant to advance justice and not to frustrate it.  The High Court should not assume the power of the trial court and this power should be exercised cautiously.

 To prevent the abuse of the process of any Court

The Court in Ganga Prasad provided that the word “process” is a general word meaning in effect anything done by the Court. The ‘abuse of process’ means generally that the filing of the case is itself oppressive, having a collateral purpose, which is other than what the case is to ultimately deliver under legitimate judicial process.

Section 482 aims merely to preserve and recognize the power inherent powers of High Court and not confers any new powers. In Sankatha Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh,[4] it was held that the High Court cannot, in the OF its exercise inherent powers, do something which the Code specifically prohibits the Court from doing. It is being an extraordinary power, has not to be pressed in aid except for remedying a flagrant abuse by a subordinate court of its powers.[5]

To secure the ends of justice

Where the Court is satisfied that inherent powers are required to be exercised to secure the ends of justice, it is empowered to do so. This principle is of utmost importance to secure the independence of Courts and administration of justice. It allows the Court to freely exercise its discretionary functions without any unreasonable interference.

The Supreme Court in Madhu Limaye v. the State of Maharashtra,[6] has held the following principles would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction of the HC:

  1. Power is not to be resorted to if there is a specific provision in the code for redress of grievances of aggrieved party;
  2. It should be exercised sparingly to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure ends of justice;
  3. It should not be exercised against the express bar of the law engrafted in any other provision of the code.

Nature of the power under section 482

The power under this section is to be exercised cautiously and carefully and within the limitation set under the section. The Supreme Court in its pronouncement in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal & Ors.,[7] provided that its difficult to lay any exhaustive list where the inherent powers can be exercised. However, in following kinds this power can be exercised:

  1. Where the allegations made in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
  2. Where the allegations in the First Information Report and other materials, if any, accompanying the F.I.R. do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1)of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.
  3. Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the F.I.R. or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.
  4. Where, the allegations in the F.I.R. do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non- cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2)of the Code.
  5. Where the allegations made in the F.I.R. or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
  6. Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
  7. Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to a private and personal grudge.

The Supreme Court in Madhu Limaye v. the State of Maharashtra,[8] does not lay any general proposition limiting the power of quashing the criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint as vested in section 482 of the Code or extraordinary power under Article 226 of the Constitution. Therefore, it for the purpose of securing the ends of justice, quashing of FIR becomes necessary. It is, however, a different matter depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case whether to exercise or not such power.

Section 482 is very wide in its nature and it is important for Courts to look upon it wisely. The nature of the power is mainly to empower the Courts to secure the administration of justice which can be compromised by filing vexatious criminal proceedings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the inherent powers of High Court under Cr.P.C.?

Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. provides for the saving of inherent powers of High Court. The inherent power oh High Court can be exercised:

  1. To give effect to an order under the Code; or
  2. To prevent abuse of the process of Court; or
  3. To secure the ends of justice.

The section does not lay any specific power which can be classified as inherent powers of High Court. But it only lays the situations where it can be exercised. These powers are wide but have to exercise judicially by the courts.

  1. What are the inherent powers of the High Court under the Constitution?

The inherent powers can be derived from Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution. The articles deal with the writ jurisdiction and supervisory power of High Court respectively. Article 226 basically aims to protect the fundamental rights. The power provided under article 227 is wider what is being provided under article 226.

[References]

[1] S.C. Mitra v. Raja Kali Charan, (1927) 3 Luck 287.

[2] Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978 SC 47.

[3] State of Maharashtra v. Arun Gulab Gawali, AIR 2010 SC 3762:(2010) 9 SCC 701.

[4] Sankatha Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1962 SC 1208.

[5] Raghubir Saran v. the State of Bihar, AIR 1964 SC 1.

[6] Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978 SC 47.

[7] State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal & Ors., AIR 1992 SCW 237.

[8] Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978 SC 47.

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