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Introduction to the Code Of Civil Procedure, 1908

The first Code of Civil Procedure was enacted in 1859 by the Committee headed by Mr. John Romily. It was amended in 1877. It was further amended in 1882. Those amendments did not serve the purpose. The present Code of Civil Procedure was enacted in 1908. The Civil Procedure Code was passed in 1908 and came into force from 1st January 1909. It was drafted by the Committee headed by Sir Earle Richards. The Committee before submitting the draft to the West Minister Parliament travelled India, read its history and ancient texts and then knew the traditions and culture of this country. The draft legislation was prepared keeping all such things in view. For example, Section 112 of the Evidence Act, 1872, drafted by Sir James Fitzjames Stephens, is based on Mahabharat as he realised that the issue of paternity has been very sensitive in the Hindu society and it was not permissible to challenge someone’s paternity. There was no analogous provision to it in England till 1966 when they amended the provisions of Section 9 of the Marriage Law.

CPC lays down the procedure to be adopted in civil courts. It provides for a fair procedure for redressal of disputes. Its principles may be applicable in other courts, like writ courts, and Tribunals to the extent the enactments establishing the Tribunals provide for it. The purpose of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Code’) is to provide a litigant a fair trial in accordance with the accepted principles of natural justice. The Code is a codification of the principles of natural justice. CPC provides the rule by which the other party may know these facts:

  1. What is the dispute?
  2. What defence can be taken, and
  3. How both the parties may proceed to prove their respective cases?

Natural justice means ‘justice to be done naturally’ which is adopted naturally by the habits of every individual. It does not mean godly-justice or justice of nature. It simply means an in built habit of a person to do justice. For example, if a child of 1, 1/2 years breaks the saucer, the mother of the child may slap him being furious, but at the time of slapping, she would repeatedly ask him why he has broken the saucer, though she knows that the child has not started speaking. As these principles are inbuilt-habit of everyone to ask others for furnishing the explanation of anything done by them, the same are known as ‘principles of natural justice’. In Garden of Eden God did not punish Adam and Eve without giving them opportunity to show cause as to why they had eaten the prohibited fruit. The first reported case of principles of natural justice in Dr. Bentely’s case, i.e., R V. University of Cambridge, (1723) 1 STR 757, wherein reference of the incident of Garden of Eden was made. The two words are repeated everyday in the courts- ‘justice’ and ‘law’. Justice is an illusion as the meaning and definition of ‘justice’ varies from person to person and party to party. Parties feel that they have got justice only and only if the case succeeds before the court, though it may not have a justifiable claim.1)

Some of its provisions are substantive in nature. Those are like Sections 96, 100, 114 and 115 providing for a right of appeal, review and revision. The other provisions are generally procedural in nature.

The word Code means ‘a systematic collection of statutes, body of laws so arranged as to avoid inconsistency and overlapping.’ The main object of Civil Procedure Code is to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the procedure and practices followed in the Civil Courts in India. As such, it was enshrined in the preamble of the code that it was enacted to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the procedure to be followed in the civil courts having civil jurisdiction in India.

The Code is mainly divided into two parts, namely, Sections and Orders in First Schedule. The main principles are contained in the Sections and the detailed procedures with regard to the matters dealt with by the Sections have been specified in the Orders. Section 122 of the Code empowers the High Court to amend the Rules, i.e., the procedure laid down in the Orders and every High Court had amended the procedure from time to time making the amendments in the said Orders.

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Vide: Delhi Administration V. Gurudeep Singh Uban, AIR 2000 SC 3737