Inherent Powers of the High Courts under CrPC, 1973

Inherent Powers of the High Courts under CrPC, 1973

This article on ‘Inherent Powers of the High Courts under CrPC, 1973’ was written by Toya Sen, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


India has set up a robust judicial procedure for the smooth functioning of providing justice. When a crime is committed against an individual, the details of the offense are reported to the police by filing an FIR (First Information Report). Recently, there has been an immense increase in false FIRs filed by the police, many people have fallen clutches to this trend and have been falsely accused. To prevent and safeguard the interests of these innocent individuals, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 has given ‘Inherent Powers’ to the High Courts of India to quash false complaints, and malicious proceedings against innocent people.

Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code

Every court in India has certain powers given to them to provide justice. These powers are extremely important as they protect the rights of the people and prevent abuse of powers. These so-called powers are known as the ‘Inherent Powers of the Court”. The CRPC is not comprehensive enough to provide legislation for all possibilities, situations, or instances that may happen while adjudicating a case. This is where these inherent powers come into the picture to rescue in such unforeseen circumstances.

Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code talks about the inherent powers of the High Courts. It states: “Saving of inherent powers 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”.

To put it simply, the High Court has been given special powers to take action to make sure the orders of the code are being followed, prevent abuse of the court’s procedures, and uphold the principles of justice.

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Landmark Cases

  • State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992:

In this case, Bhajan Lal a politician from the state of Haryana was accused of misusing his power and influence to harass and harm his competitors. Therefore, the State Government of Haryana filed a case against him under various charges. However, the petitioner argued that the case was politically motivated and said that the government was using its powers to target him and ruin his reputation.

The Supreme Court of India held and recognized the misuse of power and abuse of the legal system performed by the defendant and quashed the case. This case is considered to be a landmark case as it laid down the principle that the courts have the power to protect individuals from malicious and false prosecutions. It laid down 7 criteria. If any case falls within the ambit of these seven provisions the High Court has the power to quash these criminal proceedings. 

These provisions laid down tests to determine if the court may quash the proceeding or not. These are:

  • If the allegations mentioned in the FIR are not sufficient to establish an offense or are not serious enough to require a police investigation.
  • If the allegations and the evidence collected do not support the commission of any crime
  • If the offense mentioned in the FIR is not a serious one that would require a police warrant
  • If the allegation made is completely unreasonable and baseless.
  • If the allegations against the accused have been filed with malicious intentions to harm someone and are absurd.
  • R P Kapur v. State of Punjab, 1960:

In this case, R.P. Kapur was an accused in a criminal case pending before the Punjab High Court. He filed a petition and approached the Supreme Court seeking to quash to criminal proceedings held against him. The Supreme Court stated and examined the scope of the special powers of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it recognized these powers vested in every High Court to prevent abuse of the judicial procedure.

The SC discussed three types of cases where criminal proceedings against a person can be quashed:

  • If there is a legal barrier that prevents the institution or continuation of criminal proceedings. For example, if the accused falls outside of the ambit of jurisdiction of the court or if the statute limitations have expired, the court can dismiss the case.
  • If the allegations put forth in the FIR do not constitute an offense, even if it is considered to be true then the court can quash the case
  • If the allegations made in the FIR is an offense but the evidence provided is not sufficient to prove those allegations, then the High Court can dismiss the case. 
  • Parbatbhai Aahir v. State of Gujarat, 2017:

In this case, the Supreme Court of India discussed various precedents and laid down broad principles relating to quashing FIR under Section 482 of CrPc.

  • Section 482 of the CrPc recognizes and preserves the inherent powers of the High Court which has been given to prevent abuse of the judicial court process and secure justice for innocent individuals. The HC does not confer any new special powers.
  • The dismissing of an FIR based on a settlement between the offender and the victim is not the same as compounding an offense under Section 320 of the Code. The power to quash a proceeding under Section 482 can be held even for non-compoundable offenses.
  • The High Court has the duty to evaluate and make sure whether justice would be served if the criminal proceeding or complaint is dismissed.
  • The decision to quash a proceeding or complaint depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. No more comprehensive principles can be laid down.
  • Heinous offenses such as murder, rape, and dacoity should not be quashed even if the victim and defendant have settled the dispute since these offenses have a significant impact on the public.
  • Offenses that are economic in nature and are affecting the financial and economic well-being of the country may not be quashed easily.


The Judiciary has various roles to perform, one of which is providing protection for our fundamental rights and serving justice. 

The Inherent powers of the court are an important component of the judicial system of India. It helps protect innocent individuals who have been wrongly accused of malicious intentions by quashing proceedings against them. As Benjamin Franklin rightfully stated: “It is better 100 Guilty Persons should escape than that one Innocent Person should suffer”.

The court has to make sure to follow these guidelines and act wisely so that the law isn’t being abused. It should make sure to curb false complaints, allegations, and proceedings against a person and prevent the innocent from being convicted.

List of References

  • Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Act 02 of 1974)
  • Gargi Singh and Abhinav Singh, Spectrum of ‘Inherent Powers of High Court’ under Cr.P.C., 8(5) International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts (2020)
  • Inherent Powers of the High Courts (Sec. 482), Law Notes, available at: