1. This case has been referred to a Full Bench on account of a divergence in the opinions expressed in two cases of this Court and that expressed in the Bombay High Court. The applicants applied to this Court praying that a certain witness, who was being examined in the Court below, should be allowed to be cross-examined by them on all the issues that arose in two connected suits. These two suits were being tried together, but the Court had perhaps passed some orders previously that evidence should be led by the plaintiffs in one suit on the issues arising in that suit or issues which were common to both the suits. When the witness, Bhagwan Das, was being cross-examined, the applicants' counsel tried to put questions to him relating to issues which arose exclusively in the other suit, and the Court disallowed such questions.
2. The application in the High Court did not profess to have been filed under any specific provision of the law; but the learned Counsel admitted that it was not an application for revision under Section 115, Civil P.C. but should be treated as an application under Section 151, Civil P.C. or Section 107, Government of India Act. The learned Judge, who referred the case first to a Division Bench, expressed the opinion, which cannot be questioned, that Section 115 would not be applicable to such a matter, as no case had yet been, decided, the Court below having merely disallowed certain questions that had been put to the witness.
3. Section 151, Civil P.C. does not in terms confer any inherent jurisdiction on the Courts, but merely preserves the inherent power of the Court to make such orders as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of the. Court. Ordinarily as pointed out by the learned Judge who referred the case first, the preservation of the inherent power would not enable Courts to extend the scope of powers specifically conferred upon them by other provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, and that Section 151 should not be utilised so as to make it supplementary to Section 115, Civil P.C. The inherent powers, which can be exercised by a superior Court, are ordinarily such powers as are necessary to exercise in relation to proceedings pending before it. The Calcutta High Court and the Lahore High Court have exercised the power of staying proceedings in a subordinate Court professing to act under Section 151. No other case has been cited before us showing that such a power had prior to 1906 been exercised in any other way in relation to proceedings pending in subordinate Courts.
4. An opinion was expressed in Harnadan Lal v. Chaturbhuj : AIR1926All212 that the inherent power preserved by Section 151 would extend to orders to subordinate Courts. That however was a case where the subordinate Court had refused to stay proceedings and the High Court ordered that the proceedings be stayed until proceedings in lunacy, which were going on in the Court of the District Judge, had been determined. At a later stage the same case, reported in Chaturbhuj v. Harnandan : AIR1928All108 was brought up before the High Court, because the Court below had declined to appoint a guardian for the defendant, accepting the finding of the District Judge in the lunacy proceedings that he was not a lunatic. As the case was still pending, the learned Judges felt inclined to hold that even Section 115, Civil P.C. might be applicable to such a case, but preferred to base their decision on Section 151, Civil P.C. and held that they could direct the Court below to enquire into the question of lunacy itself. Certain observations in the judgment suggested that the powers reserved to. Courts under Section 151 are very wide and that any order can be passed which would be for the ends of justice and to prevent an abuse of the process of subordinate Courts.
5. On the other hand, the Bombay High Court in Bhausingh v. Changaniram Hurchand 1918 Bom. 157 and Ramchandra Govind v. Jayanta 1921 Bom. 228 has taken the view that the power referred to in Section 151 does not include power to dictate to a subordinate Court and interfere with its proceedings. In a later case decided by another Bench of this Court in Atma Ram v. Beni Prasad : AIR1934All585 , it was laid down that ordinarily the inherent power, referred to in Section 151, would be limited to its jurisdiction to deal with proceedings pending before it and would not include a wide jurisdiction over inferior Courts, otherwise it would be conferring power on the High Court even far in excess of that conferred by Section 115, Civil P.C. The learned Judges in Hamandan Lal's case : AIR1926All212 had relied on two earlier cases of this Court in Joshi Shib Prakash v. Jhiguria 1924 All. 446 and Balgobind v. Sheo Kumar 1924 All. 818 in support of their opinion; but these cases are no authority for the proposition that a superior Court can, in the exercise of its inherent power, dictate to a subordinate Court how to decide a particular point arising in a case. They were all cases where inherent power was exercised in relation to proceedings which had taken place in the High Court itself. We are of opinion that the power retired to in Section 151 would not include a power similar to power of revision under Section 115, Civil P.C. even to cases to which that section is not applicable. The legislature has thought fit to restrict the revisional power of the High Court under Section 115, Civil P.C. and it could not have been intended that that section could be ignored and the High Court could exercise its inherent power and rectify errors of law or errors of fact committed by Courts below in cases decided judicially. We are therefore of opinion that Section 151, Civil P.C. can have no application to the case before us.
6. It is next contended that the power of superintendence, conferred on High Courts under Section 107, Government of India Act, is much wider in its scope and empowers this High Court to interfere in the present case. The language of Section 107 is similar to that used in Clause 15, Charter Act, (24 and 25 Victoria, C. 104). While that Act was in force, the question came up for consideration before a Full Bench in Tej Ram v. Harsukh (1875-78) 1 All. 101 (F.B.), and it was the unanimous, opinion of all the four learned Judges that the clause conferred on the High Court no revisional power, no power to interfere with or set aside judicial proceedings of a subordinate Court, though it conferred on. the High Court administrative authority, and not judicial powers, and that it would be competent for the High Court in the exercise of its powers of superintendence to direct a subordinate Court to do its duty or abstain from taking action in matters of which it has no cognizance; but the High Court is not competent in the exercise of this authority to interfere and set right the orders of a subordinate Court on the ground that the order of the subordinate Court has proceeded on an error of law or an error of fact. The learned Judges pointed out that this interpretation of the statute was in accord with the practice which had prevailed in this Court. Although in a later Full Bench case Mohammad Suleman Khan v. Fatima (1887) 9 All. 104 it was conceded that the power conferred on High Courts under Section 15, Charter Act, was not confined to administrative superintendence only but included powers of a judicial or quasi judicial character, it was agreed that the High Court is not competent, in the exercise of its authority, to interfere with and set right the orders of subordinate Court on the ground that the order of the, subordinate Court has proceeded on 'an error of law or an error of fact.' This opinion was, of course, followed by a Division Bench later in the case of Adya Saran Singh v. Jagannath 1924 All. 561 which arose under Section 107 Government of India Act. The learned Judges pointed out that the power of superintendence vested in this Court, as embodied in Section 107, Government of India Act, was not intended to authorise this Court, in the exercise of the authority so given, to interfere with or set right the order of a subordinate Court on the ground that such order had proceeded on an error of law or an error of fact.
7. In view of these authorities, it is quite clear that it is impossible to interfere with the refusal of the Court below to allow certain questions to be put to the witness on the ground that the Court has erred in law in disallowing such questions. There are, no doubt, some cases arising under Act 18 of 1879 (Legal Practitioners' Act) arising out of cases in which certain persons had been included in lists of touts maintained by District Judges and prevented from coming within the precincts of the court-compound, e.g. In the Matter of Madho Ram (1899) 21 All. 181 and in Kashi Nath v. Empeoror 1924 All. 69; but these were not really judicial cases adjudicating upon the rights of two contending parties but were orders of an administrative character which the District Judge had passed. The High Court considered that the case came within the purview of Section 15, Charter Act, or Section 107, Government of India Act.
8. Our attention has also been drawn to the case of Sant lal v. Kidar Nath : AIR1935All519 , in which the power conferred on the High Court under Section 107, Government of India Act, was invoked. In that case the Honorary Munsif had omitted to carry out the order of the High Court directing him to decide certain objections and proceed in accordance with law. The Munsif, in spite of the order, did not decide the objections and did not proceed in accordance with law. The learned Judge felt some difficulty in applying Section 115, Civil P.C. as the matter was still pending before the Munsif, but interfered under Section 107, Government of India Act. That case was of a peculiar nature, and it is not necessary to consider in this case-whether it was rightly decided, particularly as the learned Judge was bound to follow the previous Division Bench rulings.
9. In view of the decisions of the Full Branches of this Court and the practice which has prevaied so far, it is-impossible for us to interfere under Section 107, Government of India Act. The application is dismissed with costs.