Every court, whether civil or criminal, in the absence of prohibition of procedure is to be deemed to possesses inherent powers embodied in its constitution as may be necessary, to do justice and to undo the wrong, in the course of administration of justice. The inherent powers of the court a fairly wide to serve the ends of justice.
2. Relevant Provisions
Following is the relevant provision of CPC regarding inherent power of Court
i. Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure
i. Section 561-A Cr.P.C
ii. Section 16 of General Clauses Act
iii. Art 183 and 199 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan
3. Meaning of Inherent Power
“An authority possessed, without its being, derived from another”.
4. Inherent Power of Court u/s 151
Sec 151 does not confer any new power upon a court but only save its inherent powers to do right and undo wrong.
5. Nature of Inherent Power
Jurisdiction of Court u/s 151 is not additional or alternate, and when alternate remedy is available, the inherent jurisdiction cannot be entertained.
6. Inherent Powers of the Court
The court has the following inherent powers
i. To postpone the hearing of suits pending the decision of a selected action
ii. To stay cross suits on the ground of convenience.
iii. To ascertain whether the proper parties are before it.
iv. To inquire whether a plaintiff is entitled to sue as an adult.
v. To entertain the application of a third person to be made a party.
vi. To allow a defense in formal pauperism.
Vii. To decide one question and to reserve another for investigation, it did not require any provision of the code to authorizes a judge to do what in this matter was justice and for the advantage of the parties.
viii. To remand a case to which order 41, order 23 or order 41, order 25 applies.
ix. To stay the drawing up of the court’s own orders or to suspend their operation, if the necessities of justice so require.
x. To apply the principles of res judicata to cases not falling within section 11 of the code.
xi. To add a party, or to transpose parties, or where the appeal is filed against a dead person or persons to allow the appellant to add legal representatives of the deceased as parties in a proper case.
xii. To modify a scheme prepared by itself under section 92.
xiii. To set aside a court sale on the ground of the minority of the purchaser.
xiv. To order security for costs in a revision application in a proper case.
xv. To direct restitution.
7. When inherent powers may be used u/s 151
Courts can exercise inherent powers u/s 151 in the following circumstances.
i. In absence of express provisions of law
Inherent powers can only be exercised by the court when there is no express provision in the code.
ii. To give effect to any order under CPC
Inherent power may be exercised by the court to give effect to any order under CPC.
iii. To prevent abuse of Process of any Court
Court may exercise powers u/s 151 to prevent abuse of process of any court.
iii-a. Meaning of abuse of process
The term abuse of process of any court has not been defined by the code. It may be define as under
“Misuse and colorable use of the powers and procedure or usurpation of jurisdiction not vested in the court.”
Iii-b. Who may commit abuse of process of court?
Abuse of process of court may be committed either
a. By the court or
b. By the party
iv. To secure ends of justice
Inherent powers may be exercised by the court, to secure ends of justice, and it necessarily means, justice administered by the court, and not justice in abstract sense.
8. Limitation or Restrictions against the arbitrary exercise of Inherent power
Following are the restrictions on the inherent powers of the court
i. Inherent power can’t be extended to make a new law on the subject
ii. It cannot be used against the express intention of the legislature.
iii. It cannot override the express provision of law
iv. It cannot be used where there is remedy is provided
v. Inherent powers should not affect the substantive rights of the parties.
vi. It should not be exercised, to assist a party guilty of laches or delay.
9. Instances of Inherent Powers
Following are some of the instances of inherent powers of court u/s 151 cpc
i. Correction of Error
Court can correct error in the judgment and decree, or even correct its own order, or to recall an erroneous order in an appropriate case.
ii. Issuance of Injunctions
Court may issue injunction in cases not falling under order 59 Rule 1.
iii. Determination of Jurisdiction
Courts have inherent power to determine the question of their own jurisdiction, and it may also set aside an order passed without jurisdiction.
iv. Production of Additional Evidence
Court in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction under section 151 may allow production of additional evidence for doing justice between the parties.
Order passed u/s 151 is not appealable, unless they fall within the definition of decree or an appealable order.
Generally revision will not be competent against order u/s 151 but in appropriate cases revision may lie.
12. Limitation Period
The law of limitation will not bar the exercise of inherent powers.
By the above discussion it can be said that the courts have inherent powers to take all steps to execute its own order, as this power flows from the jurisdiction itself. The power u/s 151 is discretionary in nature, though this discretion has to the exercised only to secure ends of Justice. Section 151 is exercise able only with respect to procedural matters and an application may be filed u/s 151, but in a proper case, a second application can be barred by Res Judicata.