Unveiling the Inherent Powers: Section 151 of CPC Demystified


October 27, 2023, 11:35 am | Updated October 27, 2023, 5:52 pm IST
Unveiling the Inherent Powers: Section 151 of CPC Demystified
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) in India empowers the court with inherent powers to make orders as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of the court's process. This section acts as a reservoir of inherent jurisdiction for the court to exercise its discretionary powers in situations not expressly covered by other provisions of the CPC.

Section 151 of CPC Explained

Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) grants courts the inherent power to make necessary orders in the pursuit of justice and the prevention of abuse of the court's processes, regardless of specific statutory provisions. This discretionary power allows courts to rectify errors, issue interim orders, set aside illegal orders, consider subsequent case developments, maintain confidentiality, rectify judgments, and revisit their decisions, all in the interest of ensuring justice and safeguarding the integrity of the legal process."

Under Section 151 of the CPC, the court possesses inherent authority to:

  1. Consolidate multiple suits and appeals, including those reaching the Supreme Court.
  2. Delay the hearing of pending suits when related actions are awaiting judgment, as established in Vetha v. Narayan.
  3. Stay cross-suits based on convenience, in accordance with the precedent set in Hukam Chand v. Kamalchand.
  4. Allow a defense in forma pauperis, following the example of Durga Sharan v. Nitto Kally.
  5. Grant restitution, independent of Section 144 of the CPC.
  6. Include or rearrange parties, including adding legal representatives for deceased appellants, as exemplified in Alabhai v. Bhura Bhaya.
  7. Consider applications from third parties seeking to join a case.
  8. Swiftly punish for contempt of court, such as in cases involving libel published outside of court, per the precedent of Surendra Nath Banerji v. The Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court of Bengal.
  9. Halt the formalization or enforcement of its own orders when the interests of justice demand it.
  10. Restrict a person through injunction from pursuing a lawsuit in another court.
  11. Annul an order obtained through fraudulent means.
  12. Remand a suit in cases not falling under Order 41, Rule 23, or Order 41, Rule 25, as demonstrated in Beni Ram Butt v. Ram Lal.
  13. Intervene when the execution of its decree deviates significantly from the decree's purpose and intent.
  14. Stay a suit, even when it does not fall under Section 10 of the CPC.
  15. Apply the principles of res judicata to cases not covered by Section 11 of the Code.
  16. Revoke and invalidate its own erroneous orders, following the precedent of Champa Devi v. Asha Devi.

Key points regarding Section 151 CPC

  • Inherent Jurisdiction

    Section 151 recognizes that the CPC may not explicitly cover every conceivable situation that may arise during the course of legal proceedings. Therefore, the court has been granted inherent powers to ensure that justice is done and that the court's process is not misused.

  • Wide Discretion

    The court's discretion under Section 151 is wide and not limited by specific provisions of the CPC. It can be invoked in various circumstances to prevent an abuse of process or to secure the ends of justice.

  • No Bar of Specific Provisions

    The existence of specific provisions in the CPC does not bar the court from exercising its inherent powers under Section 151. However, these powers should not be used to bypass or contravene specific provisions of the CPC.

  • Judicial Prudence

    Courts exercise their inherent powers under Section 151 sparingly and judiciously. They do so when it becomes necessary to fill gaps or to meet the exigencies of a particular case.

  • Examples of Use

    Section 151 can be invoked in a variety of situations, such as to grant interim injunctions, to amend pleadings, to allow additional evidence, to set aside orders obtained by fraud, to order costs, and to stay proceedings. Essentially, it can be utilized to do justice in the specific circumstances of a case.

  • Limitation

    Despite its wide scope, Section 151 cannot be used to override or bypass specific provisions of the CPC. It cannot be invoked when there is a specific provision governing a particular matter.

Limitation to Section 151 CPC

The exercise of inherent powers is subject to certain limitations, including:

  • They can only be invoked in the absence of specific provisions in the Code.
  • They cannot contradict or override explicit provisions of the code.
  • They are typically employed in rare or exceptional circumstances.
  • When exercising these powers, the court must adhere to the procedure prescribed by the legislature.
  • Courts cannot assume jurisdiction or powers not granted by law.
  • They must adhere to the principle of Res Judicata, avoiding the re-opening of issues that have been conclusively decided.
  • They can appoint a mediator to issue a fresh award.
  • Substantive rights of the parties involved must not be violated.
  • They can restrain a party from initiating legal proceedings in a court of law.
  • They can set aside an order that was valid at the time of issuance.

Conclusion

Section 151 of the CPC serves as a safety net for the courts, allowing them to take actions not explicitly provided for in the CPC to ensure justice is served and to prevent the abuse of legal processes. However, courts must exercise this inherent power judiciously and within the bounds of legality, always keeping in mind the principle that specific provisions of the CPC should prevail when they exist for a particular matter. To know more about Section 151 of CPC, contact a criminal lawyer in your area by typing on the search engine “lawyers near me”. For example, if you stay in Kolkata, search for a criminal lawyer in Kolkata.

FAQs

  1. What is Section 151 CPC applicability?

    Section 151 of the CPC is applicable in situations where:
    1. Specific CPC provisions do not cover a case.
    2. Preventing the misuse of the court's process.
    3. Amending pleadings or documents
    4. Granting interim injunctions.
    5. Setting aside orders obtained through fraud.
    6. Adding, transposing parties.
    7. Allowing additional evidence.
    8. Reviewing court orders.
    9. Conducting proceedings in camera or preventing disclosure.
    10. Dealing with contempt of court matters, like libel outside court.

  2. What is 151 section?

    Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) in India grants courts the inherent power to make necessary orders for the ends of justice and to prevent the abuse of the court's process, particularly in situations not explicitly covered by specific CPC provisions.

  3. Can a suit be dismissed under Section 151 CPC?

    A suit can be dismissed under Section 151 of the CPC if the court deems it necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of the court's process. However, such a dismissal should be a rare and exceptional measure, and the court must exercise its inherent power judiciously.

  4. What is the remedy against 151 CPC?

    The remedy against an order issued under Section 151 of the CPC is to challenge it through an appropriate legal procedure, such as filing an appeal, review, or revision, depending on the circumstances, before the same court or a higher court.
Written By:
Vidhikarya

Vidhikarya


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