The inherent power of the High Court
The goals of substantive criminal law are sought to be accomplished by the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.). However, in order to accomplish these goals, there is a chance that the process may be abused, and occasionally even the application of the law as set down in the procedural law may not be sufficient to uphold the ends of justice. In some circumstances, some type of intervention at the higher level may be necessary in order to carry out any of the orders under Cr.P.C. Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is provided to address these issues. Section 482’s marginal note reads, “Saving of Inherent powers of High Court”.
This blatantly implies that this phrase is a safeguard intended to ensure that the CrPC P.C.’s do not interfere with the High Court’s fundamental authority to administer justice. If the High Courts are of the opinion that without their involvement, as requested by the petitioner, justice cannot be served, it suggests that these powers are not to be used frequently and should instead be used sparingly. Section 482 is a special provision that gives the High Court inherent powers solely with regard to matters addressed by the Cr.P.C. As a result, this provision cannot be used for objectives unrelated to those that the Cr.P.C. addresses.
Quando lex aliquid alicui concedit, concedere videtur ed it sine quo res ipsae esse non potest, or when the law grants anything to anyone, it also grants all those things without which the thing itself would be unavailable, is the foundation for the principle embodied in section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The idea of inherent powers depends on making a distinction between powers that are expressly granted by the Constitution or by statutes and those that a government, a constitutional functionary, or a specific officer of government implicitly possesses, whether because of the nature of sovereignty or because the Constitution or statutes’ language is being interpreted permissively.
Section 561-A of the old Cr.P.C. from 1898 corresponds to section 482 of the Cr.P.C. The original Cr.P.C. of 1898’s provisions were preserved in the 1973 Cr.P.C., which simply changed the section’s number from 561-A to 482.
When can the High Court use its inherent power u/s 482 CrPC
According to Section 482 Cr.P.C., the High Court may utilise its inherent powers in one of three ways: (i) to carry out a code order; (ii) to stop misuse of the legal system; and (iii) to further the interests of justice in other ways. The implementation of these conditions would inevitably result in overlap rather than the three conditions being mutually exclusive.
The phrase “securing the ends of justice” has a fairly broad definition that encompasses the first two requirements as well. It is neither conceivable nor desirable to establish any rigid rules that would control how the court would employ its natural powers.
Without a doubt, the High Court has unrestricted power under the aforementioned Article. To provide true and substantive justice for which only the court exists, ex debito justitiae must be used sparingly, cautiously, and deliberately.
In R. P. Kapoor v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court noted that, in general, a criminal proceeding against an accused person must be tried under the general provisions of the Code, therefore the High Court should be reluctant to quash the proceeding at an interim stage.
According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra, the following guidelines should be followed when a High Court exercises its inherent jurisdiction under section 482:
- The power should not be used if the Code already contains a specific provision that addresses the complaint of the aggrieved party;
- It should only be used sparingly to prevent abuse of any court’s process or in other ways to further the interests of justice; and
- It should not be used to circumvent any express prohibition of the law enshrined in another Code provision.
Section 482 and Writ Petitions under Article 226/227 of the Constitution
A Writ may be issued against the State in any circumstance, whereas section 482 may only be used to cases or procedures under the Code and not in other matters. This is the main distinction between Article 226 of the Constitution and section 482 of the Code. Article 226 encapsulates wider powers to be exercised by the High Court than section 482 Cr.P.C. Similar authority to supervise all courts within the region over which it has jurisdiction is granted by the High Court under Article 227. According to this article, supervision power includes judicial and administrative aspects.
Since the procedure is ultimately only intended to provide substantive justice, the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court in the criminal justice system serves as a safeguard to ensure that substantive justice is not sacrificed in the name of procedural compliance. As a result, giving the High Court this authority is only reasonable. The High Courts must always keep in mind that, generally, following the rules of procedure has been found to be sufficient to address the issue of justice. As a result, any inference that following the rules of procedure in a particular case is being abused or that doing so would lead to a miscarriage of justice must be reached with due caution, with special attention paid to avoiding any subjective preference for a particular outcome.
- Pushkraj Deshpande, Overview of Section 482 CrPC Vis-à-vis The Landmark Judgements Of The Supreme Court of India, Mondaq (2018), accessed at Overview Of Section 482 Cr.P.C Vis-À-Vis The Landmark Judgments Of The Supreme Court Of India – Trials & Appeals & Compensation – India (mondaq.com)
- Bharat Vasani and Varun Kannan, Supreme Court on Section 482 CrPC- Have the inherent powers of High Courts been diluted? CAM (2021), accessed at Supreme Court on Section 482 CrPC – Have the inherent powers of High Courts been diluted? | India Corporate Law (cyrilamarchandblogs.com)