Report No. 17
2. Trusts Act, 1882.-
Such in short was the position when Whitley Stokes prepared a draft Bill of the law relating to private trusts in 1878-79. This Bill was referred to the Fourth Law Commission consisting of the author of the Bill besides Sir Charles Turner and Raymond West. The Bill as modified by the Commission came to be enacted with a few changes as the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.
The Bill was confined in its application only to private trusts. It gave recognition to the wider concept of trust as already established in Indian Law. Subject to this and taking into account the peculiar circumstances of India, it adapted the rules of English law of trusts. The provisions of the Bill, as the marginal notes1 thereto make clear, were based upon leading English and Indian cases and the writings of,-to mention only some-Kent, Story, Smith, Lewin and Underhill. Underhill's treatise on Trusts and Trustees appeared in 1878, about the same time when the Bill was being fashioned out, and it was also used.
A few of the provisions were based on the New York Civil Code. Besides, the provisions of the various English Acts relating to trusts were taken note of. With few exceptions, as stated in the Statement of Objects and Reasons, "the rules contained in the Bill are substantially those now administered by English courts of equity and (under the name of justice, equity and good conscience) by the courts of British India."2
The Trusts Act has proved to be a very successful piece of legislation. It has stood the test of time. Its provisions are remarkable alike for lucidity and conciseness. There have been practically very few difficulties felt in the interpretation of the Act. This is as much due to the skilled draftsmanship of Whitley Stokes as to the fact that the rules of the English Law of trusts were well-developed by the time of the drafting of the Act.
1. See the Bill as printed in the Reports of the Pourth Law Commission, Gazette of India, 1880, Supp. p. 155.
2. Gazette of India, 1880, Pt. V, p. 494.