The Bombay Civil Courts Act, 1869

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An Act being ‘the Bombay Civil Courts Act, 1869’ numbered as 14 of the year 1869 was enacted during the British rule in India. The present enactment was provided with the view for consolidating and amending the law connected to the District Court and Other Subordinate Civil Courts in the Presidency of Bombay (now Mumbai). The Act was assented on 19th day of March, 1869. So far the extension of this Act is concerned, it is provided that the same should be extended to the whole state of Maharashtra, however, originally the extension was sought to the entire State of Bombay, but now the words ‘state of Bombay’ taken off and replaced with the words ‘state of Maharashtra’ by the Maharashtra Adaptation of Laws (State and Concurrent Subjects) Order, 1960. The provisions of this Act were many time amended and certain provisions were also repealed and omitted by several enactments of time.

The Act under its second Part makes relevant provisions so far as the purpose of the Act is concerned. It is provided that the limits of the existing Zillas (Districts) can be altered by the State Government by notifying in the official gazette and also can create new Districts for the purpose of this present Act. The provisions were also extending powers to the State Government for alteration of the position of the Sadr Station in any District and fix its position in any new District.

The next part of the Act being Part III, makes provisions as to the District Courts, for every Districts. And such District Courts should be presided over by the Judge who is termed here as ‘District Judge. Earlier there was condition that the District Judges should be appointed by the Governor of Bombay in Council, and he only can suspend and remove such District Judges from their appointment. However, said condition was omitted by the Adaptation of Indian Laws Order in Council. Moreover, such District Judges were required under this Act to hold the District Courts at the Sadr Station in his concerned Districts. However, he can hold the same at other places within such District with the previous sanction of the High Court. It is also declared under this Act that the said District Court should be the Principal Court having Original Civil Jurisdiction in the District as per the meaning provided under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Further, it is also provided that besides its original Jurisdiction, the said District Courts should also have Appellate Jurisdiction, where appeals from all decrees or orders which were passed by the Subordinate Courts, under any law should lie. Apart from this, the said District Court should also have general controlling power over all the Civil Courts and also as to their establishment in the districts. They should also have responsibility to inspect the proceedings of all the Courts Subordinate to such District Courts. And in any case, law not provides any matters, then such District Courts are required to provide for such necessary directions. Further such District Courts are also required to refer the matters for having ruling of the High Courts. There was an obligation on the part of the District Judge that to obey all writs, orders or processes issued by the High Courts. The fourth part of the Act deals with provisions as to appointment of Joint-District Judges in any District with the co-extensive powers and concurrent Jurisdiction with the District Judge. Similarly, there can also be appointed a Joint District Judge in another District, from the District or Additional District Judge by the State Government. Appointment of Additional District Judges were governed under part V of the Act.

Further provisions of the Act contained under Part VI thereof provides for the Civil Courts, being subordinate to the District Court and the State Government is against responsible for the appointment of Judges of such Subordinate Courts being Civil Judges. Further the Act under its Seventh Part makes provisions as to temporary Vacancies in the office of Judges.

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So far as the provisions relating to the ministerial officers are concerned, the part VIII at the first instant provides for the duties of such ministerial officers of the Civil Courts, which is to be regulated by rules of High Court. It is further specified that for any Civil Court, there should be a clerk of the Court who should be having in additions to the aforesaid duties, the duty to receive and register the plaints.

The Last part of the Act makes miscellaneous provisions thereof, where, the High Court is empowered to provide for the rules in which the proceedings of such Civil Courts to be kept and recorded. Also the High Court should provide for the rules on certain matters provided under section 41A of the Act. And also, in addition the High Court to prescribe and regulate the fees for issuing process by the Court and such prescription and regulation should be first sanctioned from the state Government. It is also made clear that the District and Subordinate Courts should sit for every day, except only Sundays and other sanctioned days.

The present Act was recommended for repeal by the P C Jain Commission report (Appendix A-5), however, the Act was not repealed.

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Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan