(a) To give effect to any order under the Code; or (b) To prevent the abuse of the process of any Court; or (c) Otherwise to secure the ends of justice. It will be seen that S.
482 does not confer any new or increased powers on the High Court. It only provides that those powers which the Court already inherently possessed are preserved, and the section finds place in the Code, lest it should be argued that the only powers possessed by the Court are those expressly conferred by the Code, and that no inherent power has survived after the passing of the Code. It will be seen that the saving of the inherent powers of the High Court is designed to achieve a salutary public purpose, which is that Court proceedings ought not to be permitted to degenerate into a weapon of harassment or persecution. The ends of justice are higher than the ends of mere law, although justice is to be administered according to law. S. 482 closely resembles S.
151 of the Civil Procedure Code. The Allahabad High Court has observed that in order to invoke this provision, the following three conditions should be fulfilled, namely: (i) The injustice which comes to light must be of a grave, and not a trivial nature; (ii) The injustice should be clear and not doubtful; and (iii) There should be no other provision of law by which the aggrieved party could have sought relief. (Ram Narain,—A.I.R. 1960 All. 296) Thus, the inherent powers of the High Court can be invoked to quash proceedings in a proper case; either to prevent the abuse of the Court’s process, or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
The following are some categories of cases where the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court ought to be exercised to quash proceedings: (i) Where there was a legal bar against the commencement or continuation of the proceedings; (ii) Where the allegations in the complaint did not make out the alleged offences; (iii) Where there was no evidence adduced in support of the charge; (iv) Where the evidence adduced in support of the charge clearly failed to prove the charge. The Delhi High Court has, in Vinod Kumar v. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, 1980 Cr. L.J. NOC 26) held that when the prosecution case in the trial Court is not without any basis, the High Court will not, in its inherent power under S. 482 of the Code, interfere in respect of matters relating to evidence.
The Supreme Court has observed that the inherent powers of the High Court, preserved by S. 482, are vested in it by “law”, within the meaning of Art. 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, where a High Court cancels a bail-bond granted under S, 436 to a person accused of a bailable offence, the deprivation of the personal liberty of such a person does not violate Art. 21 of the Constitution. (Ratilal v. Asst. Collector of Customs.
—69 B.L.R. 855) The object and purpose of this provision, which enables the High Court to do justice between the State and its subjects, has to be properly realised, and the width and contours of that salient jurisdiction appreciated.
(L.M. Muniswamy, — A.I.R.
1977 S.C. 1489) It has been held that the inherent powers of the Court cannot be called in aid in respect of any matter which is covered by any specific provisions of the Code. The High Court has, therefore, no power of reviewing its appellate judgment or order to which finality has been attached by S. 393 of the Code. (Dr. Almeida v.
State, 1980 Cr. L.J. 145) However, the Supreme Court has held that, in compelling circumstances, the inherent power of the Court can be invoked even where a matter is covered by a specific provision in the Code. In the words of the Court, “The limitation is self-restraint, nothing more.” (Raj Kapoor and Others v. State, 1980 Cri. L.
J. 202) In Kurukshetra University’s case (A.I.R. 1977 S.C. 2229), the Supreme Court has warned that inherent powers do not confer any arbitrary jurisdiction on High Courts to act according to their whims or caprice. This power is to be exercised sparingly with circumspection and “in the rarest of rare cases.
” Thus, in exercise of its inherent powers, the High Court cannot quash a First Information Report, more so when the Police had not even commenced their investigation, and no proceeding at all was pending in any Court in pursuance of such F.I.R.
In Madhu Limaye’s case (A.I.R. 1978 S.C. 47), the Supreme Court has once again reiterated that a High Court must exercise its inherent powers very sparingly. One such case would be the desirability of quashing a criminal proceeding initiated illegally, vexatiously or without jurisdiction.
The Allahabad High Court has observed that if a prima facie case exists against the accused, the inherent jurisdiction of the Court should not be exercised. (Har Bilas v. Ram Niwas Bansal, -1984 Cr.
L.J. 1008) In Raj Kapoor v. The State (referred to above), the Supreme Court has held that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be invoked only against final orders, and not against orders which are purely interlocutory. However, the Court also cautioned that this inherent jurisdiction ought to be exercised only in extraordinary circumstances, observing as follows: “In short, there is no total ban on the exercise of inherent power where abuse of the process of the Court or other extraordinary situation excites the Court’s jurisdiction. The limitation is self-restraint, nothing more.
” In Raj Kapoor’s case (above), a rather unique prosecution was launched by a private complainant claiming to be the President of a Youth Organisation devoted to defending Indian cultural standards, against the theatre-owner, producer, actors and photographer of a sensationally captioned and widely publicised film entitled ‘Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram’. In the course of his judgment, Justice Krishna Iyer, commenting on the exercise by the Court of its inherent powers, observed as follows : “Especially when a special statute (The Cinematograph Act) has set special standards for films for public consumption, and created a special Board to screen and censor from the angle of public morals and the like, inexpert criminal courts must be cautious to “rush in”, and indeed must “fear to tread”, lest the judicial process should become a public footpath for any highway-man wearing a moral mask holding up a film-maker who has travelled the expensive journey to exhibition of his ‘certified’ picture”. Whether subordinate courts also can exercise inherent powers-It will be seen that S. 482 of the Code deals only with the inherent powers of the High Court. An interesting question that arises is whether such a power can also be exercised by subordinate Courts. Answering the question in the affirmative, a Division Bench of Kerala High Court has held that although S. 482 is silent as regards inherent powers of subordinate Courts, that omission does not mean that subordinate Courts cannot, in any circumstances, exercise inherent powers.
(In Re State of Kerala,-1973 Cr. L.J. 1288)