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Report No. 27

2. Historical background-the 1859 Code.-The history of civil procedure in this country really begins with the year 1859, when the first uniform Code of Civil Procedure was enacted. Before 1859, the law of Civil Procedure was in a chaotic condition. Not only was there no uniform law of Civil Procedure applicable to the whole of the country, but in the same area different systems of procedure prevailed. For example, in Bengal alone there were as many as nine1 systems of procedure simultaneously in force. The first effort in the direction of evolving a uniform procedure was made when Sir Charles Wood, then President of the Board for the Affairs of India, directed2 the Second Law Commission to address themselves to the preparation of "a Code of simple and uniform procedure" applicable to all the courts.

The Commission prepared four draft Codes of procedure, which were intended to apply to ordinary civil courts of the lower provinces of Bengal, the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay and the North-Western Provinces. Four Bills based on these drafts were ultimately amalgamated and enacted as the Code of Civil Procedure, 1859. The Code of 1859 was, however, not applicable to the Supreme Courts in the Presidency Towns and to the Presidency Small Cause Courts. Soon after it was passed, it was subjected to a series of amendments.

In the meantime, it was extended, subject to some modifications, to the whole of British India and to the High Courts in the exercise of their civil, intestate, testamentary and matrimonial jurisdictions"3. The new Letters Patent of 1865, however, modified this position, and empowered the High Courts to make their own rules and orders for regulating civil proceedings. At the same time, it imposed a duty on them to be guided by the provisions of the Code of 1859, as amended from time to time.

2. Whitley Stokes the Anglo-Indian Codes, (1888) Vol. II, p. 381.

3. Whitley Stokes: Op. Cit., p. 384.

4. See the revoked Letters Patent of 1862, e.g., section 37 of the Calcutta Letters Patent, 1862.

Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 Back

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