The High Court has the power to prevent abuse of the process of any court. The word ‘process’ is a general word signifying in effect anything done by the court and includes criminal proceedings in a subordinate court. It is, therefore, within the powers of the High Court to interfere in the interest of justice and to stop abuse of the process of law. It has power to secure the ends of justice when a clear mandatory provision of law is overlooked. It has also the power to correct an obvious error.
The inherent powers of the High Court can be invoked for expunging objectionable remarks from a judgment of a subordinate court when they are not justified by the evidence on the record, but the High Court cannot claim an inherent power to alter the judgment of another court by expunging passages there from.
The High Court will interfere to expunge the remarks which are libellous and irrelevant, but if they form an integral part of the judgment or its argument, and if they are inseparable, the High Court will not interfere to mutilate the judgment or to touch the fabric of the judgment itself.
Every High Court as the highest court exercising criminal jurisdiction in a State has inherent power to make any order for the purpose of securing the ends of justice. This power extends to expunction or ordering expunction of irrelevant remarks made against a person who is neither a party nor a witness to the proceeding, from a judgment or order of a subordinate court, although the matter has not been brought before it in a regular appeal or revision and would be exercised by it in appropriate cases for securing the ends of justice.
Being an extraordinary power it will, however, not is pressed in aid except for remedying a flagrant abuse by a subordinate court of its powers such as by passing comment upon a matter not relevant to the controversy before it and which is unwarranted or is likely to harm or prejudice another.
The High Court by expunging remarks from an order or judgment of a subordinate court, would not in any event be altering it on merits or in any matter or substance but by only deleting from it matter which being alien to the matter before the court ought never to have been there.
When it is moved by an aggrieved party to expunge any passage from the order or judgment of a subordinate court, it must be fully satisfied that the passage complained of is wholly irrelevant an unjustifiable, that its retention on the records will cause serious harm to the person to whom it refers and that its expunction will not affect the reasons for the judgment or order. [Per Mudholkar and Raghubar Dayal JJ. in Dr. Raghubir Saran v. State of Bihar, A.I.R. 1964 S.C. 1].
Whatever may be the degree of impact the result of expunging remarks from a judgment is that it derogates from finality. A judgment of a lower court may be wrong; it may even be perverse. The proper way to attack the judgment is by bringing it under the scrutiny of the superior court and getting the judgment of the lower court judicially corrected.
The inherent power that the High Court possesses is, in proper cases, to judicially correct the observations of the lower court by pointing out that the observations made by the Magistrate were not justified or were without any foundations or were wholly wrong or improper. In suitable cases the Appellate Court may judicially correct the observations of the lower court by pointing out that the observations made by the Magistrate were not justified or were without any foundations or were wholly wrong or improper.
This can be done under its inherent power preserved under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. But that power must be exercised only in exceptional cases where the interest of the party concerned would irrevocably suffer. [Per Subba Rao, J. contra in Dr. Raghubir Saran v. State of Bihar, A.I.R. 1964 S.C. 1).
Under its inherent power the High Court can stay a criminal proceedings till the disposal of a civil suit pending in a civil court relating to the same dispute, interfere with an illegal order of search of the house, grant bail to an accused pending appeal to the Supreme Court, or excuse the personal attendance of the accused in the trial and permit him to appear by a pleader.
The expression ‘in the interest of justice’ used in Section 482, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, would call for the interference by the High Court in the interest of justice even at the stage where only an F.I.R. is lodged with the police, if the F.I.R does not disclose any offence, whatsoever. In a matter where the F.I.R. does not disclose any offence cognizable or non-cognizable, to allow the investigating agency to proceed with the investigation and harass a citizen would certainly not be in the interest of justice. Against this kind of harassment of a citizen, the Court must exercise its inherent power whenever its assistance is sought by a citizen. [Mis. Balwant Singh B.K.O. Hamidpura v. District Food and Supplies Controller, Amritsar, (1975) 77 P.L.R. 64],
The inherent powers of the High Court, though wide are not unlimited. That can be exercised only when the Code makes no provision for dealing with the matter, and the Court is satisfied that there is an abuse of its process which calls for interference, or otherwise to secure the ends of justice it is necessary that the High Court should step in and exercise its inherent powers.
It is trite that jurisdiction under Section 482, Cr.P.C. which saves the inherent power of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice has to be exercised sparingly and with circumspection. In exercising that jurisdiction the High Court should not embark upon an enquiry whether the allegations in the complaint are likely to be established by evidence or not. That is the function of the trial Magistrate when the evidence comes before him (State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Khan and others, (1988) 4 S.C.C. 655],
The Supreme Court has in Stri Atyachar Virodhi Parishad v. Dilip Nathumal, (1989) 1 S.C.C. 715, held that the High Courts should as a rule not interfere with the framing of charge by the sessions judge and it would be better for it to allow the trial to proceed.
On February 1, 1989, a full Bench consisting of seven Hon’ble Judges of the High Court at Allahabad held that the High Court has no inherent power under Section 482, Cr.P.C. to interfere with investigation by the police and to stay the arrest of an accused during investigation.