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Code of Civil Prciviocedure: Meaning & Significance
The meaning of the word ‘procedure’ is "the correct way of doing things." Therefore, a procedure provides a set of rules for the functioning of the court to deal with a particular situation that arises during its day-to-day business. This definitely includes the set of rules for the functions of the judges, advocates, and court staff.
In India, the judicial system is broadly divided into two major streams, namely the Civil Court and the Criminal Court. Civil courts deal with civil disputes, which are those involving civil rights such as property, trade, and business. Further civil disputes arise between the citizens, firms, partnerships, and companies. On the other hand, the criminal courts deal with the adjudication of cases in which a crime is committed by the accused person against the body or property of another person.
Why do we need the procedure code?
The rights and obligations of citizens are well defined in a modern civilized society. If any of these rights and obligations are violated by members of society, disputes arise between them. The disputes need to be resolved by determining the rights and obligations, and then these rights need to be enforced between the parties in dispute. So for this purpose, we have two types of laws. The laws that specify the rights and obligations of the citizens are called substantive laws, like the transfer of property act of 1882, the contract act of 1872, the partnership act of 1932, the Indian penal code of 1860, etc. Further, the law that prescribes the procedure for the enforcement of these rights is called a "procedural law," like The Criminal Procedure Code 973. The Civil Procedure Code of 1908, The Evidence Act of 1872, etc.
The set of rules for the guidance of a civil court are compiled in the form of the Civil Procedure Code. We have a "Code of Civil Procedure" (1908) in place that provides a set of rules for the smooth functioning of the courts and also for the guidance of the judges, advocates, and court staff as they perform their specific functions in the civil court. Similarly, we have criminal procedure code 1973, which provides a set of rules for the trial of an accused.
The other important aspect of having a ‘Code of Civil Procedure" is to provide uniformity in the functioning of the court in different territorial jurisdictions. In our country, civil courts are working in different states with distinct territory, different languages, and specific cultures; however, there is uniformity in their functioning, which is due to the "Code of Civil Procedure," which is applicable to them with little variation. Prior to 1859, there was no uniform law or procedure for the civil courts in India. However, of course, India was not as unified at that time as it is today. But then the region under the control of the British Empire has to have uniformity in actions across the region. Therefore, in 1859, for the first time, an act for civil procedure was enacted by the British parliament.
The Judicial System in India
It is not out of place to discuss at this juncture how the court functions in our country from the bottom to the top. So we have a three-tiered hierarchy of the judiciary, wherein:
District Court − At the bottom and lowest level, we have district courts presided over by a district judge. At the district level itself, we have a two-tier hierarchy. For civil cases, we have the Court of Civil Judges, or Munsif Magistrates, at the bottom and the Court of District Judges at the district level, which is superior to the Court of Civil Judges. Furthermore, for the criminal matters, at the district level, we have a court of sessions. Here, we have the Court of Magistrate 2nd Class and the Court of Magistrate 1st Class at the bottom. Now, this classification in the criminal courts is based upon the power of courts to decide the criminal cases for which different terms of punishment are provided and which are to be adjudicated by different categories of magistrate.
High Court − The second tier of hierarchy is the High Court at the state level. The high court hears appeals from the court of district judges in civil cases and from the court of sessions judges in criminal cases.
Supreme Court − At the third tier and at the highest level, we have the Supreme Court of India, which hears the appeals from the high courts in both civil and criminal cases.
Contents of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
Let us now understand the contents of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The Code of Civil Procedure (1908) is divided into three major segments: sections, orders, and appendices. These sections are basically enacted by the legislature. These can be amended by the legislature only. The sections portion of the code is further divided into XI parts, which contain 1 to 158 sections. Each part contains provisions dealing with a specific type of proceeding, such as court jurisdictions, places of suit, summons to be served, execution proceedings, arrests, detentions, and property attachment in executions, appeals, references, reviews, and revisions. The next division of the contents of the Code of Civil Procedure is orders, which are 51 in number and listed in Schedule 1 in the form of Roman Numerals (I to LI).
The Orders are basically collections of rules of practice developed in various high courts over the passage of time. These rules are compiled in the form of orders and placed in Schedule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Orders are therefore extensions to the laws contained in the sections based upon the practice of providing a complete and unified procedure for a particular civil proceeding. The third portion of the content of the Civil Procedure Code is the Appendices, which contain standard format drafting required for a particular type of proceeding like what is to be included in the pleadings of the parties, what should be the content of the summons, warrant, order of attachment, form of decree, and various other forms used by the courts. Appendices are listed as Appendices A to H.
The Civil Procedure Code of 1908 is a procedural law that facilitates the courts in determining the rights and obligations of the parties to disputes as defined in substantive law. Further, the Civil Procedure Code also facilitated the enforcement of these rights and obligations, resulting in adjudication in favour of the winning party and against the losing one. The entire mechanism is well defined and beautifully arranged in the form of a code that is unified and made uniformly applicable to the whole of India.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is substantive law?
Ans: A branch of law enacted by the legislature that specifies the rights and obligations of citizens is called substantive law. Examples of substantive law are the Contract Act of 1872, the Transfer of Property Act of 1882, the Partnership Act of 1932, the Indian Penal Code of 1860, etc.
Q2. What is procedural law?
Ans: The legislature enacts procedural law to aid the administration of justice by the court in determining the rights and obligations of litigants based on the substantive laws that apply to them. Examples of procedural laws are the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973), the Code of Civil Procedure (1908), and the Evidence Act (1872), etc.
Q3. How many sections are there in the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908?
Ans: There are 158 sections in the Code of Civil Procedure.
Q4. How many orders are there in the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908?
Ans: There are 51 orders in the Code of Civil Procedure.
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