Historical Evolution of Civil Procedure in India



There was no unified, codified legislation governing the procedures to be followed in civil courts in India before 1859. In those old days, under the British rule, there were Crown Courts in Presidency towns and Provincial Courts in Mofussil.

  • These Courts in the Mofussil districts and the Presidency towns were regulated by diverse systems of civil process through various laws, regulations, and special acts, and those were modified from time to time in accordance with the requirements and circumstances.
  • By passing the Civil Procedure Code, a unified civil procedure code was established for the first time in 1859. (Act VII of 1859). However, this code was not made to apply to the Supreme Courts (Crown Courts under the Royal Charter) and the Sadar Diwani Adalats, hence it was unable to fulfill its intended function (Principal Courts under the Judicial Plan by the Governor General).
  • In 1859, a uniform civil procedure code was created for the first time by the passage of the Civil Procedure Code. (1859 Act VII). However, because the Supreme Courts (Crown Courts under the Royal Charter) and the Sadar Diwani Adalats were not designed to be subject to this law, it was unable to serve its intended purpose (Principal Courts under the Judicial Plan by the Governor General).
  • The Civil Procedure Code, 1877, which succeeded the Code of 1859, was constantly updated over the years. This code from 1877 was revised in 1878 and 1879, and the third civil process Law, which superseded the earlier code, was adopted in 1882. Multiple amendments were made to the Code of Civil Procedure of 1882, and in the end, the shortcomings of the Code of 1882 were overshadowed by the passage of the current Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.


The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, establishes the rules and procedures that must be followed in Civil Courts. “A systematic collection of legislation,” or “a corpus of laws sufficiently ordered as to eliminate inconsistency and overlap,” is what the name “CODE” denotes.


The main goal of this civil process code is to harmonize and amend the laws pertaining to the procedures and methods used in Indian civil courts. All things considered, the prologue of the code valued the fact that it was established to unify and reform the laws identifying with the procedure to be followed in the civil courts having civil jurisdiction in India. The Civil Procedure Code governs all proceedings in civil courts as well as any meetings that take place prior to the execution of the degree and order.


The Civil Procedure Code was adopted in 1908 and went into effect on January 1 of the following year. With the exception of the Code applies to the whole country.

  • The State of Jammu and Kashmir
  • The tribal areas and the state of Nagaland

Another clause states that the respective state governments may, by official gazette announcement, apply the provisions of this code in full or in part to the State of Nagaland or to such tribal territories.


1-Substantive Law- The Substantive Law establishes what facts constitute a fact or responsibility, regardless of whether it is based on statute law or common law. [1] To put it another way, substantive law outlines a number of concepts relating to rights and obligations. (For instance, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which lists the many crimes that fall under the category of criminal conduct.)

2-Procedural Law- On the other hand, procedural law, sometimes known as adjective law, specifies the process and tools used to enforce such rights and obligations. To put it another way, the enforcement of the rights and obligations defined in line with the principles of the substantive law is what the procedural law is concerned with the rules of substantive law. (Example: The Code of Civil Procedure 1908, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 etc.).


The Code was satisfactorily enforced notwithstanding significant flaws in it. The Law Commission produced a number of papers outlining the necessary adjustments while keeping in mind the following requirements:

  1. The process must be straightforward and give economically disadvantaged groups in society a fair deal.
  2. A plaintiff is entitled to a fair trial in line with the generally accepted natural justice standards.


The major goals of the modifications are to promote fair and natural justice, provide a swift remedy, and do away with unwarranted delays in case resolution.

As stated in the amendment,

1-Within 30 days of the lawsuit’s filing date, summons must be sent to the defendant.

2-Within 30 days, the written statement must be submitted. This window may be extended by the court for up to 90 days. 

3-The fine for failure to attend and default has been raised to Rs. 5000.

4-If a judgment debtor is issued a decree for payment and fails to comply, he may be imprisoned in a civil facility. He won’t be held in a civil prison if the unpaid balance is less than Rs. 2000.

5-The monthly pay up to Rs. 1000 and two thirds of the remaining salary beyond Rs. 1000 will not be attached in the event of attachment during the execution of a decree.

6-The revisions opened the door for innovative and effective conflict resolution techniques including arbitration, conciliation, and mediation. Lok Adalat is a fantastic illustration of this.

7-The defendant has the right to get compensation for any costs he expended as well as any losses he suffered, including damage to his reputation as a result of his arrest or the seizure of his property.

8-After the modifications, conflicts whose subject matter is worth less than Rs. 1000 cannot be appealed.

9-No appeal will be accepted against the single judge’s high court order if the case is decided by that judge alone, whether in the original or appellate jurisdiction.

10-1If the lawsuit’s goal is the recovery of money up to Rs. 25,000, a second appeal is not permitted.

11- While interviewing the witnesses or reviewing the evidence, the court may postpone the issue-staging process for a maximum of seven days.

12- During the hearing of any matter, no party may receive more than three adjournments.

13-Once the trial is finished, the Court will issue the verdict. The Court will make an effort to issue a ruling within 30 days after the hearing’s conclusion. However, if there are unusual or extraordinary circumstances, the court may set a date that is more than 30 days but less than 60 days after the hearing’s end.


The Code is extensive in other areas but thorough in the things it specifically addresses. The code’s creators were unable to anticipate potential conditions that could emerge 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 broad procedural nature ensures that it does not conflict with any current local or special laws. The special legislation will take precedence over the civil process code in any situation where there is a dispute between them. When a specific area of local or general law is silent, the civil procedure code’s rules take precedence.


Some of the important features of civil procedures-

1- The Civil Procedure Code simplified and improved the process that must be followed in the Civil Courts. This code deals with the enforcement of the rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of the citizens. To put it another way, the Civil Procedure Code offers the means for enforcing obligations and rights.

2- Since the Civil Procedure Code is a general law, it will not interfere with currently in effect local or special laws. The Civil Procedure Code shall be superseded by any applicable municipal or special legislation in the event of a disagreement. If a local or special legislation is silent on a certain matter, the Civil Procedure Code will take precedence.


The Code has two parts and they are –

  1. The Body of the Code
  2.  The Schedule

The Schedule is the second part of the Code and contains orders and rules. The Schedule is divided into 12 divisions and includes 158 sections.

In the case of the second section, i.e., the Schedule, it lays out the processes, techniques, and ways in which the court’s jurisdiction may be exercised. The Body of the Code gives forth broad concepts pertaining to the court’s power.

In the case of the second section, i.e., the Schedule, it lays out the processes, techniques, and ways in which the court’s jurisdiction may be exercised. The Body of the Code gives forth broad concepts pertaining to the court’s power.

At the time this code was passed, there were really five schedules. Later, the Code’s following modifications eliminated Schedules II, III, IV, and V.

  • There are now 51 orders in the sole schedule to the code, the initial schedule. Every order is made up of a different number of rules. There are eight appendices that provide model forms, including.
  • Pleadings (Plaint and Written Statement formats)
  • Process formats
  • Discovery, Inspection and Admission
  • Decrees
  • Execution
  • Supplemental Proceedings
  • Appeal, Reference and Reviews
  • Miscellaneous
  • Under Sections 122 through 127, 129, 130, and 131, the different 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 law.
  • Only the legislature has the authority to amend the provisions of the code’s body; courts are not permitted to change or amend the code’s provisions.


The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides simple and clear rules to be followed by the Civil Courts in order to enable the courts to transmit fair-minded and impartial equity. As a result, the inherent power clauses were combined in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. When there is no enactment, the court may use its discretion to go beyond what is allowed under the Code of Civil Procedure if there is a justifiable concern for equity. It is referred to as the Court’s Inherent Powers. One of the most important components of procedural rules, the Code of Civil Procedure governs the procedure that Indian civil courts must follow. Although it may have certain limitations, it is nonetheless useful, straightforward, and unambiguous and gives the courts the authority to administer impartial justice and fairness.

Author: Animesh Nagvanshi,
ICFAI, Dehradun and 3rd Year/ Student

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