INHERENT POWERS OF HIGH COURT UNDER SECTION 482 OF CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
Our legal system’s law of crime is mainly contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which has come into force from April 1, 1974. It provides the machinery for the detection of crime, apprehension of suspected criminals, collection of evidence, determination of the guilt or innocence of the suspected person and the imposition of suitable punishment on the guilty person. In addition, this Code also deals with the prevention of offences, maintenance of wives, children and parents.
The Code also controls and regulates the working of the machinery set up for the investigation and trial of offences. On the one hand it has to give adequately wide powers to make the investigation and adjudicatory processes strong, effective and efficient, and on the other hand, it has to take precautions against errors of judgement and human failures and to provide safeguards against probable abuse of powers by the police or judicial officers.
It has however been declared by the Supreme Court that the Subordinate Courts have been given partial statutory recognition by enacting Section 482 of this Code.
Section-482 of CrPC deals with Inherent powers of the Court. Section- 482 of CrPC of provides:
“Saving of inherent power of High Court- Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”
BACKGROUND OF SECTION 482 OF CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
The power to quash an FIR (First Information Report) is among the inherent powers of the High Courts of India. Courts possessed this power even before the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P. C) was enacted. Added as Section 482 by an amendment in 1923, it is a reproduction of the section 561(A) of the 1898 code. Since high courts could not render justice even in cases in which the illegal was apparent, the section was created as a reminder to the courts that they exist to prevent injustice done by a subordinate court.
Section 482 particularly deals with the saving of inherent powers of the High Court. The section saves inherent powers of High Court and prohibits all such things which limit or curtails such power. The inherent power oh High Court can be exercised:
1.To give effect to an order under the Code; or
2.To prevent abuse of the process of Court; or
3.To secure the ends of justice.
The section provides the specific provisions where the inherent powers can be exercised. No such power can be exercised other than those which are specifically provided. Also, these powers cannot be invoked where any specific provision for a particular case is made. The section in its very sense talks to save the powers, however, on the other hand, it limits the power by prescribing the specific provisions where these powers can be exercised.
The inherent powers exist and in its wide scope, it is a rule of practice that will only be exercised in exceptional cases. The Supreme Court in Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978 SC 47 has held that the following principles would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction of High Court given by section 482:
1.The power is not to be resorted to if there is a specific provision in the Code for the redress of the grievance of the aggrieved party;
2.It should be exercised very sparingly to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure to the ends of justice;
3.It should not be exercised as against the express bar of the law engrafted in any other provision of the Code.
WHAT ARE THE REAL POWERS OF THE HIGH COURT U/S 482 CR.P.C.?
Inherent powers u/s 482 of Cr.P.C. include powers to quash FIR, investigation or any criminal proceedings pending before the High Court or any Courts subordinate to it and are of wide magnitude and ramification. Such powers can be exercised to secure ends of justice, prevent abuse of the process of any court and to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, depending upon the facts of a given case. Court can always take note of any miscarriage of justice and prevent the same by exercising its powers u/s 482 of Cr.P.C. These powers are neither limited nor curtailed by any other provisions of the Code. However, such inherent powers are to be exercised sparingly and with caution.
It is well settled that the inherent powers under section 482 can be exercised only when no other remedy is available to the litigant and NOT where a specific remedy is provided by the statute. If an effective alternative remedy is available, the High Court will not exercise its powers under this section, especially when the applicant may not have availed of that remedy.
Section 482 Cr.P.C. v/s Section 151 of C.P.C
The statutory provision which immediately comes to mind, which is similar to Section 482 Cr.P.C is Section 151 C.P.C because to a great extent the language is identical. The provision is found in Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure which saves the inherent power of the Civil Court. The said provision also states that the inherent power of the Court to pass any order as may be necessary shall not be either deemed to be limited or affected by any of the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code for passing order for the following purposes:
i) to make an order as may be necessary for the ends of justice ; or
ii) to prevent abuse of the process of the Court.
The principle is well established that when the Code of Civil Procedure is silent regarding a procedural aspect, the inherent power of the court can come to its aid to act ex debito justitiae for doing real and substantial justice between the parties.
Thus, law has been well settled in respect of the scope of Section 151 C.P.C. As we have extracted above, the inherent power of the Court under Section 151 C.P.C. is inherent in the Court and not conferred upon the Court by the Code. The said power can be exercised by the Court in order to secure the ends of justice provided there is no specific provision elsewhere in the code governing the field.
Firstly, it is at once obvious that whereas Section 482 Cr.P.C is available only to the High Courts, Section 151 can be resorted to at any stage of civil judicial proceedings in any of the hierarchical tiers.
Secondly, the use of the word "otherwise" in Section 482 has the effect of boundlessly broadening the boundaries of inherent powers of the High Court in exercise of its criminal jurisdiction.
Thirdly, Section 482 can be employed to ensure obedience of any order passed by the Court because of the phrase "to give effect to any order under this Code. It needs to be mentioned that Section 482 Cr.P.C. and Section 151 C.P.C. deals about the same subject matter and form part of the same subject matter.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court while interpreting both Section 151 C.P.C. and Section 482 Cr.P.C. has taken the consistent view that the inherent power of the Court is not conferred upon either by the Code of Criminal Procedure or Code of Civil Procedure but it is inherent in the Court by virtue of its duty to do justice between the parties before it. In both the Codes, if there is no specific provision for passing an order to secure the ends of justice, the Court can exercise its inherent power to pass such an order.
LIMITATION ON SECTION 482 OF CR.P.C
Even though the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 482 is very wide, it has to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when such exercise is justified by the tests specifically laid down in the section itself.
In a proceeding under section 482, the High Court will not enter into any finding of facts, particularly when the matter has been concluded by concurrent finding of facts of two courts below.
In State of Bihar and another v. K.J.D. Singh, the Hon'ble Supreme Court had a question whether the Criminal Proceedings can be quashed even before the Commencement of the Trial. The Supreme Court went ahead and held that "The inherent power under Section 482 has to be exercised for the ends of the justice and should not be arbitrarily exercised to cut short the normal process of a criminal trial. After a review of catena of authorities, Pendian, J. in Janta Dal v. H.S. Chowdhary (supra) has deprecated the practice of staying criminal trials and police investigations except in exceptional cases and the present case is certainly not one of these exceptional cases."
In R.P. Kapoor v. State of Punjab, Hon'ble Supreme court went on to limit the powers of the Hon'ble High Court within the ambit of the Cr.P.C. It was held, "Inherent power of the High Court cannot be invoked in regard to matters which are directly covered by specific provisions in the Cr.P.C.".
It is well settled that the inherent powers under section 482 can be exercised only when no other remedy is available to the litigant and NOT where a specific remedy is provided by the statute. If an effective alternative remedy is available, the High Court will not exercise its powers under this section, specially when the applicant may not have availed of that remedy.
8. It is no more res integra that exercise of power under Section 482 CrPC to quash a criminal proceeding is only when an allegation made in the FIR or the charge-sheet constitutes the ingredients of the offence/offences alleged. Interference by the High Court under Section 482 CrPC is to prevent the abuse of process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. It is settled law that the evidence produced by the accused in his defence cannot be looked into by the court, except in very exceptional circumstances, at the initial stage of the criminal proceedings. It is trite law that the High Court cannot embark upon the appreciation of evidence while considering the petition filed under Section 482 CrPC for quashing criminal proceedings. It is clear from the law laid down by this Court that if a prima facie case is made out disclosing the ingredients of the offence alleged against the accused, the Court cannot quash a criminal proceeding.
What are the cases in which the High Court can quash the Criminal Proceedings?
In the case of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal 1992 AIR 604, the Supreme Court had laid down following seven categories of cases in which the court can quash criminal proceedings:
1.Where the allegations made in the FIR, even if taken at face value and accepted in their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
2.Where the allegations in the FIR and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.
3.Where the allegations made in the FIR and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.
4.Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer, unless a Magistrate has issued an order for the same, as contemplated under Section 155(2)of the Code.
5.Where the allegations made in the FIR are absurd to the extent that no prudent man can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
6.Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions f the Code or the concerned Act, under which a criminal proceeding is instituted, with regard to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and / or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
7.Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide intention and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and / or personal grudge.
Section 482 Cr.P.C has a very wide scope and is an essential part of statue to pass orders to meet the end of justice, where ever the Courts finds that Continuance of such FIR and Criminal Process any court or authority/agency shall result into abuse of process of law. Further, where injustice can take place but at the same time the said Power is too wide and hence, it is important for the courts to use it wisely and according to the guidelines laid down by High Courts and Supreme Court time to time. Section 482, in its current form has seen several changes with the changing times and needs of the hour and by the Guidelines framed by the Supreme Court in several of its judgments. The Courts are constrained to do so as the said Section which gives wide powers to the High Court, was highly abused by the Law Practitioners. Section 482 of Cr.P.C has made its space in Cr.P.C in order to enable the High Courts to provide proper justice and at the same time to curb filing of fictitious complaints just to avenge personal grudges.