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Manohar Lal Chopra v/s Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hiralal: Analyzing Section 151 and Order XXXIII of the Code

Facts of the Case
In this matter, the plaintiff initiated legal proceedings before the Subordinate Judge in Asansol seeking the recovery of money from the defendant. Subsequently, the defendant filed a counter-suit in Indore for the recovery of money. The defendant sought a stay on the Asansol suit, which was denied. The appeal to the Calcutta High Court was also unsuccessful, with the directive that the preliminary jurisdictional issue be resolved by the trial court.

Following this, the defendant sought an injunction in the Indore court to halt the proceedings in the Asansol suit. This injunction was granted under Order XXXIII of the Code but was later dismissed on appeal to the High Court, which held that an injunction order could be issued using the court's inherent powers under Section 151. Consequently, the appellant has filed this appeal for the court's consideration.

Issues Involved:
  • Whether the order of injunction could be issued in the exercise of the inherent powers of the court under Section 151 of the Code for restraining party from proceeding suit in another court?
Observation & Judgement
SHAH, J. - I have reviewed the judgment delivered by Justice Dayal, and while I concur with the conclusion that the appeal must succeed, I am unable to affirm that civil courts generally possess inherent jurisdiction in cases not covered by Rules 1 and 2 of Order 39, Civil Procedure Code, to issue temporary injunctions restraining parties from certain acts in proceedings before them.

The powers of courts, excluding Chartered High Courts, exercising their ordinary original civil jurisdiction to issue temporary injunctions are specifically defined by Section 94(1)(c) and Order 39 of the Civil Procedure Code. Temporary injunctions may only be issued in cases strictly falling within the limits prescribed by these rules, and civil courts ordinarily lack the authority to issue injunctions beyond these prescribed limits.

While it is true that Chartered High Courts exercising ordinary original jurisdiction exercise inherent jurisdiction to issue injunctions restraining parties from proceeding with a suit in another court, this authority is derived from their status as successors to the Supreme Courts and is preserved by Section 9 of the Charter Act (24 and 25 Vict. c. 104) of 1861 and explicitly provided for in Section 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. However, the power of civil courts, other than Chartered High Courts, must be found within Section 94 and Order 39 rules 1 and 2 of the Civil Procedure Code.

The Code of Civil Procedure is not exhaustive, providing rules for specific situations and not aiming to cover all conceivable cases. Civil courts are authorized to pass orders necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the court's process. However, where the Code explicitly addresses a particular matter, that provision should be considered exhaustive, and deviation from it is impermissible. The inherent jurisdiction of the court affirmed by Section 151 cannot be exercised to nullify the provisions of the Code. When the Code expressly deals with a particular matter, the provision should be regarded as exhaustive.

The power to issue an injunction is constrained by Section 94 and Order 39, and a civil court, which is not a Chartered High Court, cannot exercise that power disregarding the imposed restrictions purportedly in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction. The decision in Padam Sen v. The State of Uttar Pradesh does not support the appellant's case.

In Padam Sen's case, the Court considered whether an order of a Munsiff appointing a commissioner for seizing account books in a suit was authorized by law, and it was held that the civil court's appointment of a commissioner did not confer public servant status on the commissioner, and the appointment, being without jurisdiction, did not make the commissioner a public servant. The Court rejected the argument that the civil court had inherent powers to appoint a commissioner under Section 151 for purposes not falling within the provisions of Section 75 and Order 26 of the Civil Procedure Code.

"Section 75 of the Code empowers the Court to issue a commission, subject to conditions and limitations which may be prescribed, for four purposes, viz., for examining any person, for making or adjusting accounts, and for making a partition. Order XXVI lays down rules relating to the issue of commissions and allied matters. Mr. Chatterjee, learned counsel of the appellants, has submitted that the powers of a Court must be found within the four corners of the Code and that when the Code has expressly dealt with the subject matter of commissions in s. 75 the Court cannot invoke its inherent powers under s. 151 and thereby add to its powers.

On the other hand, it is submitted for the State, that the Code is not exhaustive and the Court, in the exercise of its inherent powers, can adopt any procedure not prohibited by the Code expressly or by necessary implication if the Court considers it necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the Court. The inherent powers of the Court are in addition to the powers specifically conferred on the Court by the Code.

They are complementary to those powers and therefore it must be held that the Court is free to exercise them for the purposes mentioned in s. 151 of the Code when the exercise of those powers is not in any way in conflict with what has been expressly provided in the Code or against the intentions of the Legislature. It is also well recognized that the inherent power is not to be exercised in a manner which will be contrary or different from the procedure expressly provided in the Code."

The core principle of the case undermines the arguments put forth by the appellants. Section 75 grants the court the authority to issue a commission for specific purposes outlined therein. While it may not explicitly state that there is no power to appoint a commissioner for other purposes, the Court's perspective in Padam Sen's case suggests that such a prohibition is implied in Section 76.

Following a similar line of reasoning, if the power to issue injunctions is permissible only when prescribed by rules in the Orders in Schedule I, it must be inferred that it cannot be exercised in any other manner or for purposes outside the scope of Order 39 Rules 1 and 2.

The analysis expresses a complete agreement with the Supreme Court's decision in a given case, highlighting a thorough consideration of relevant facts, legal principles, and rules. The author suggests that their own decision would align with the Supreme Court's, emphasizing the importance of understanding the legislative intent behind the relevant legal provisions.

The analysis underscores the necessity of appreciating the purpose of the legal code and its enactment context before delving into legal contentions. It notes the appellant's argument against the exercise of inherent powers, citing specific provisions in the Civil Procedure Code for interim injunctions. However, the Supreme Court's stance is that these provisions are not exhaustive, recognizing the legislative inability to foresee all future circumstances.

Justice J.C. Shah's perspective is introduced, outlining the defined powers of courts, other than the High Court, for issuing temporary injunctions under Section 94(1)(c) and Order 39 of the Code. The analysis suggests that the Code is not exhaustive, lacking comprehensive rules for all conceivable situations.

The Supreme Court's reasoning is presented, asserting that if the power to issue injunctions aligns with the rules in the Orders in Schedule I, it cannot be exercised in any other manner. The limitations of Section 151's inherent powers are emphasized, stating that it indicates the power to make necessary orders for justice and to prevent abuse of the court's process. The analysis argues that the Code doesn't control inherent power, and therefore, the High Court's order is deemed not persistent in the interest of justice, leading to the allowance of the appeal for protection.

Section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code does not grant specific powers to the court; rather, it signifies the court's authority to issue orders deemed necessary for achieving justice and preventing the abuse of the court's process. The court possesses a broad and expansive scope of powers, and it is not devoid of authority to provide relief when justice and equity demand it. This authority is inherent to the court's duty to dispense justice between the parties involved.

In the case of Manohar Lal Chopra v. Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hiralal, the Supreme Court emphasized that the inherent power is not bestowed upon the court but is inherent in its function to administer justice. However, this power is constrained and cannot be exercised if its application contradicts or conflicts with any powers expressly or implicitly conferred by the Code.

Additionally, the power vested in Section 151 cannot be utilized as an appellate power, nor can it be invoked to issue administrative or ministerial orders. The court's authority under this section is delimited to ensuring justice and preventing the misuse of the court's process within the parameters set by the Code.

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