The Indian civil court proceedings for a long time were not being governed by any single, codified law until 1859. The Crown Courts, which were better recognised by the Courts in England, were located in the major Presidency towns back when the country was ruled by the British, and Provincial Courts were located in Mofussil’s (the areas outside of provinces but belonged to the British). These Courts in the Mofussil and Presidency towns were being administered by various civil procedure systems through various laws, regulations, and special acts (based on local laws and customs), and they were altered from time to time based on the needs and circumstances of the society at large, but it was more or less focusing on their own growth.
By passing the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), a unified code of civil procedure was thus finally established for the first time in the year 1859. However, this code was not made to apply to the Supreme Courts (i.e. Crown Courts under the Royal Charter) and the Sadar Diwani Adalats (basically a revenue court), hence it was unable to fulfil its intended function of being a ‘uniform’ code as wished by the Governor.
The Sadar Diwani Adalats and the Supreme Courts were eliminated in 1861 along with the passage of and as a result of the ‘Indian High Courts Act’. The Supreme Courts in Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta were afterwards soon replaced by the High Courts in British-India. The Civil Procedure Code of 1859, which wasn't used to its full potential, then completely extended its applicability and use to these recently established High Courts.
Later the CPC, which was passed in 1877, replaced the Code of 1859, which would then be continuously revised over the years. The third Civil Procedure Legislation was passed in the year 1882, which was a replacement for the 1877 code, which would again be revised in the years 1878 and 1879. Multiple amendments were made to the Code of Civil Procedure of 1882, and ultimately the modern Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, was adopted, in an attempt to erase the shortcomings of the Code of 1882. Later in then the law was amended in 2002 and later in 2015.
The Code of Civil Procedure's Body is divided into 12 parts, each of which has 158 sections. The second section, the schedule, contains the orders and regulations. In the case of the second section, i.e. the Schedule lays out the procedures, techniques, and ways in which the court's jurisdiction may be exercised while implementing the law. The Body of the Code gives out general concepts relating to the court's power.
At the time this code was passed, there were actually five schedules. Later, the Code's following modifications eliminated Schedules II, III, IV, and V. There are now 51 orders in the only schedule to the code, the initial schedule. Every order is made up of a different number of rules. Eight appendices include sample templates (Forms), including pleadings (Plaint and Written Statement formats). Additional Proceedings for the Execution of Decrees on Discovery, Inspection, and Admission.
Under Sections 122 to 127, 129, 130, and 131, the various High Courts have the authority to change or add any regulations in the schedules, provided that the new rules do not conflict with those found in the main body of the code.
Only the legislature has the authority to change the provisions of the code's body; courts are not permitted to do so.
The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 regulates the Law relating to the practises and procedure to be followed in the Civil Courts. "A systematic collection of statutes, a body of laws so ordered as to eliminate inconsistency and overlap," is what the word "CODE" signifies.
The primary goal of this civil procedure code is to codify and reform the laws governing the practices and procedures used in Indian civil courts. As a result, it was stated in the code's prologue that it had been passed to codify and revise the laws governing the procedure to be followed in civil courts with civil jurisdiction in India. Up until the execution of the degree and order, the Civil Procedure Code governs all proceedings in civil courts and the parties before them. Implementing the fundamentals of substantive law is the purpose of procedural law. Implementing the fundamentals of substantive law is the purpose of procedural law. Through the enforcement of rights and obligations, this Code ensures just justice.
The Code is comprehensive in other areas but exhaustive in the things it specifically addresses. The code's creators were unable to anticipate potential conditions that might arise in future lawsuits and could not have provided a method for them. In order to address these situations (where the code could not offer a method), the law's authors (the legislature) granted the court inherent powers in accordance with natural justice, equity, and good conscience.
This Code's general procedural nature ensures that it does not conflict with any current local or special laws. The special law will take precedence over the civil procedure code in any situation where there is a dispute between them. When a specific area of local or general law remains silent, the civil procedure code's rules take precedence.
The costs issued by the court in connection with a lawsuit are now governed by Section 35 of the CPC, one of the significant amendments made by the Act in 2015. The aforementioned section gave the court latitude in establishing the expenses. The Act has replaced the aforementioned section to offer a broad guideline for the failed party paying expenses.
Additionally, the Act establishes a "Summary Judgement" mechanism via a new Order XIII-A in the CPC. In the following instances, the court renders a summary judgement without taking oral testimony:
If none of the following apply, oral testimony should not be recorded: (a) the plaintiff has no real chance of winning on the claim; (b) the defendant has no genuine chance of winning the defence; or (c) there is no other compelling justification for recording oral evidence.
Additionally, the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 and the Information Technology Act of 2000 both acknowledge the importance of electronic records as evidence. The necessary provisions under the new Order XI of the CPC that provide procedural rules for the same have been integrated into the Act.
Order XVIII of the CPC contains laws relating to written arguments and deals with the hearing of suits and the cross-examination of witnesses. The parties have been required to submit succinct written arguments under discrete themes within four weeks of the start of oral arguments, following the new provisions in this Order added by the Act. Within a week after the debates are over, revised written arguments may be submitted. No such time limit had previously been established.
This article is written by Ashish Eapen of Christ (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru, Karnataka.