CPC, 1908: Inherent Powers of Court

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The term ‘inherent’ implies something that is continuing to exist in the form of being absolute, inseparable or essential. The inherent powers of the courts basically refer to those powers of the court, which are applied by the court to operate absolute justice between the justice seekers standing before it. It is the most significant aspect of the courts to deliver justice even in the absence of a separate or definite provision.

Important Provisions       

In context of inherent powers of the court, under this code, there are few provisions which carry great significance. Following are some of the relevant and important provisions under this code for the same:

  1. Section 148 – “Enlargement of time”
  2. Section 148A – “Right to lodge a caveat”
  3. Section 149 – “Power to make up deficiency of court-fees”
  4. Section 150 – “Transfer of business”
  5. Section 151 – “Saving of inherent powers of Court”
  6. Section 152 – “Amendment of judgments, decrees or orders”
  7. Section 153 – “General power to amend”
  8. Section 153A – “Power to amend decree or order where appeal is summarily dismissed”
  9. Section 153B – “Place of trial to be deemed to be open court”

Enlargement of Time

Enlargement of Time is mentioned in Section 148 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The section states that, “Where any period is fixed or granted by the court for the doing of any act prescribed or allowed by this Code, the Court may, in its discretion, from time to time, enlarge such period, (not exceeding thirty days in total), even though the period originally fixed or granted may have expired”.

In easier terms, when a period is fixed for doing an act, the Court carries the power to stretch such period at a length of up to thirty days. This power is absolutely discretionary in nature.

Transfer of Business

Transfer of Business is mentioned in Section 150 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The section states that, “Save as otherwise provided, where the business of any court is transferred to any other Court, the Court to which the business is so transferred shall have the same powers and shall perform the same duties as those respectively conferred and imposed by or under this Code upon the Court from which the business was so transferred”.

For example – if there are two courts – ‘Court1’ and ‘Court2’. When the business of Court 1 will get transferred to Court 2, then Court 2 will perform the same duties and exercise the same power and authority as Court1 according to the laws commanded or provided by the Code.

Payment of Court Fees

Payment of court fees or power to make up deficiency of court fees is mentioned in Section 149 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The section states that, “Where the whole or any part of any fee prescribed for any document by the law for the time being in force relating to court-fees has not been paid, the Court may, in its discretion, at any stage, allow the person, by whom such fee is payable, to pay the whole or part, as the case may be, of such court-fee; and upon such payment the document, in respect of which such fee is payable, shall have the same force and effect as if such fee had been paid in the first instance”.

Even after the expiry of the limitation period for filing of the lawsuit or appeal, this particular provision permits the Court to grant one of the concerned party to make up for the lack of court-fees due on a particular notice, appeal, etc.

End of Justice

The term end of justice is mentioned in Section 151 of the Code and was elaborated in the case of “Debendranath v. Satya Bala Daas” AIR 1950.  The judgment held that these three words are dignified words and according to jurist methodology, these are not just polite expressions.

Abuse of Process of Court

Section 151 of the Code says that, “Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the Court to make such orders as may be necessary for the ‘ends of justice’ or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court”. Abuse of the process of Court basically signifies that no act of the Court shall ever prejudice anyone or anything above anyone or anything (except according to the procedure established by the law).

The word “abuse” comes into highlight when the Court gets deviated from the ideal procedure and starts operating on a different method, for the purpose of doing an act which it is never expected to do. Such an act of the Court straightaway marks the failure of justice.


The applicability of inherent powers of the Court certainly carries few limitations, which can be well comprehended from the following points:

  1. They can be applied only in the case, where there exists any kind of deficiency of a particular provision in the Code;
  2. They cannot be applied in cases of disputes with what has been unambiguously provided in the Code;
  3. They can be applied only in some infrequent or thin on the ground types of cases;
  4. While applying the said inherent powers, the Court is supposed to follow the procedure established by the law or the method provided by the legiature;
  5. The Courts can neither exercise jurisdiction in any manner, and nor can entrust in them by law;
  6. The Courts are supposed to abide by the very principle of Res Judicata, which implies, not to open those issues which have already been decided and concluded ultimately.
  7. The courts are supposed to pick a mediator to make an award afresh;
  8. The Courts should not forget the fact that, substantive rights of the parties can not be taken away in any case;
  9. The Courts are also supposed to make sure, to limit a party from taking proceedings in a court of law; and,
  10. To set apart such an order, that was valid at the moment of its issuance but is not valid now


The inherent powers of the Court under this Code are formulated in such a manner as to overcome those ambiguities which were obstructing the path of providing justice in some way or the other. Though, as we can understand that these powers are existing with certain limitations, but still the intention behind the application of these powers is evident enough i.e. to be absolutely impartial in delivering justice and in performing the duties as laid down in the procedure established by law and the method of operation as given by the legislature.

Author: Amrisha Dwivedi

Editor: Kanishka VaishEditor, LexLife India.

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