The Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887

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The Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887 was enforced on 1st July, 1887. The act deals with consolidation of small causes courts in India. Small Cause court under section 4 of the Act shall mean an court established under provisions of the act and shall also include any person exercising jurisdiction under provisions of the Act.

Section 3 of the act specifically directs that no provision under the Act shall affect any proceedings of decree in a suit weather preceding or succeeding such suit. The act shall also not affect any proceedings before a Magistrate with respect to debts or claims of civil nature which shall also include proceedings before village munsiff under Dekkan Agriculturists Relief Act 1879. Apart from this the act shall also not interfere with local, customary or special laws other than The Code of Civil Procedure Code.

Section 2 of the Act stands repealed partly by Amending Act, 1891 (12 of 1891), and partly by the Repealing Act, 1938. Chapter II of the Act deals with constitution of Small Causes Court. The Act empowers the Provincial Government to establish small causes court, theses courts shall be established at such place as is decided by the provincial government. There shall be a judge appointed who shall preside over the court and one judge shall preside over two or more courts if the government so decides. Incase necessary additional judges shall be appointed under section 8 of the Act. The additional judges shall preside over more than one court if situation so warrants. The additional judge so appointed shall discharge all functions of the judge as assigned. In the absence of senior judge, additional judge shall preside over the court as per the provisions of the Act. The provincial government in consultation with the High Court shall direct a judge of the Small Cause Court and additional Court to sit together and adjudicate matters. Incase of difference of opinion between the judges either the provisions of Chapter XLVI of Code of Civil Procedure shall apply or opinion of senior judge in respect of appointment as a judge of Small causes Court shall prevail. Apart from the judges there shall be a Chief Ministerial Officer commonly known as the registrar shall be appointed who shall preside the small causes court in matters not exceeding two thousand rupees or any other matter as the judge may direct under sub section (4) of section 12. Such officer shall also undertake ministerial works as directed.

The small Causes Court shall have jurisdiction over civil suits whose value shall not exceed rupees two thousand. In cases where High Court in writing warrants the jurisdiction may exceed to rupees five thousand. The matters over which small causes court shall have jurisdiction shall not be decided by any other court according to  section 16 of  the Act.

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Chapter IV of the Act deals with practice and procedure to be followed by small causes court. The small causes court shall act in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure. Sections 18 to 21 of the Act deals with powers of the Registrar it says that the registrar has similar powers as that of a judge . The judge shall transfer a matter to the registrar.  At times when Judge is absent and there is no other additional judge the Registrar has power to admit, return and reject a plaint 19 of the Act. The registrar shall have powers to execute, a decree, adjournment of a case  and return of plaint involving question of title in absence of judge.

The matters in which appeal shall lie the district courts shall have power to hear such appeal against orders of small causes court. Section 25 of the Act clearly mentions the revisionary powers of the small causes court in decrees which  shall lie with the court itself. The decision of small causes court shall be final in all matters. The small causes court has powers to issue distress warrant in matters where person claiming to be entitled over arrears of rent of house situated within jurisdiction of small Causes Court.

The Small Cause Court shall be under supervision and control of the District Court and High Court and shall follow all the directions given by these courts.  The District court shall have power to transfer and withdraw cases from small causes court. The Provincial Government shall have power to abolish these courts under section 30. The Act shall not apply in cases where provisions of Code of Civil procedure shall apply.

Thus the act was enacted to establish small causes court which shall have jurisdiction of rupees two thousand extending to rupees five thousand. Even when theses courts were given enormous powers under the act inorder to prevent the courts from becoming autocratic there powers were curtailed by the provisions of Act.

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by Vibhuti Nakta.