Introduction to the Civil Procedure Code, 1908

Overview of Civil Procedure Code

The Civil Procedure Code (CPC) is an essential legislative document in Indian jurisprudence, establishing the legal framework for civil litigation. The CPC can be broadly categorized into two types of laws: substantive laws and procedural laws. Substantive laws define and confer legal rights and duties, whereas procedural laws lay down the mechanisms and manners in which such rights may be enforced and recognized in a court of law.

Preamble of CPC

The Preamble of the CPC states that the code aims “to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the procedure of the courts of civil judicature.” This highlights the dual purpose of the CPC: to unify various procedural laws and to update them to address current needs.


The CPC is applicable throughout India, except for Nagaland and certain tribal areas. However, the applicability has extended to Jammu and Kashmir through the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, which received the President’s assent on August 9, 2019. This act divided the former state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.


The CPC was enacted in 1908, receiving the assent of the Governor-General on March 21, 1908, and came into force on July 1, 1909. It has undergone several amendments, with significant changes made in 1976, 1999, and 2002. The 1976 Amendment came into force on February 1, 1977, and the amendments of 1999 and 2002 came into effect on July 1, 2002.

Structure of CPC

The Civil Procedure Code is divided into two main parts: the Body of the Code and the Rules. The Body of the Code consists of 158 sections, which contain provisions of a substantive nature. The Rules are procedural, indicating the mode in which the substantive provisions are to be applied. These Rules include 51 Orders and one Schedule.


Amendments to the CPC can be made by Parliament concerning sections, while the High Courts have the power to amend Orders.

Elements of a Civil Suit

A civil suit comprises several essential elements:

  1. Parties to the Suit: These include the plaintiff (petitioner/applicant) and the defendant (respondent).
  2. Cause of Action: This involves the existence and violation of a legal right.
  3. Subject Matter: This could be personal rights such as privacy, speech, property, and ownership.
  4. Matter in Issue: Facts proved by the existence or non-existence of a cause of action.
  5. Title: Determined by the legal capacity of the parties, for example, possession.
  6. Relief/Remedy: Addressed under Order 7 of the CPC.

Stages of a Civil Suit

  1. Institution of Plaint: The plaint includes the parties’ names, the cause of action, the prayer, the court’s address, and the relief sought.
  2. Consideration of Plaint: The plaint is scrutinized as per the Limitation Act, checking for jurisdiction, res judicata, etc.
  3. Issuance of Summons: Governed by Order 5, Section 27, if the summons is duly served and the defendant appears. If the defendant does not appear, the process includes ex parte proceedings (Order 9, Rule 6) and potentially setting aside judgment (Rule 13).
  4. Written Statement: Governed by Order 8, which allows 30 days for submission, extendable to 90 days.
  5. Production of Documents: Covered under Order 13.
  6. Examination of Parties: Conducted at the first hearing.
  7. Discovery and Inspection: Through interrogatories.
  8. Admission: Both parties may admit facts to streamline proceedings.
  9. Framing of Issues: Issues of fact and law are framed.
  10. Summoning of Witnesses: Witnesses are summoned for testimony.
  11. Examination of Witnesses: Includes examination-in-chief and cross-examination.
  12. Judgment and Decree: The judgment is delivered, and the decree is prepared within 15 days.
  13. Appeal, Review, Revision: Post-judgment processes include appeals, reviews, and revisions.
  14. Execution of Decree: Governed by Order 21, which includes 106 rules, detailing how the decree is enforced against the judgment debtor.

Relevant Case Laws

1. Kiran Singh & Ors. v. Chaman Paswan & Ors. (1954): This case emphasizes that the Code of Civil Procedure is designed to ensure that justice is not thwarted by technicalities.
2. Sangram Singh v. Election Tribunal (1955): The Supreme Court highlighted that procedural laws are meant to facilitate justice and are not to be used as tools to obstruct it.
3. Balakrishna Chhaganlal Soni v. State of Maharashtra (1977): This case elucidates the interpretation of procedural provisions in a manner that further the cause of justice.
4. Salem Advocate Bar Association v. Union of India (2003): The court discussed amendments to the CPC, emphasizing that procedural laws should serve the goal of expeditious and fair resolution of disputes.


The Civil Procedure Code, 1908, is a foundational legislative document in India that structures the manner in which civil litigation is conducted. Its comprehensive nature, covering both substantive and procedural aspects, ensures that the civil justice system operates effectively. Over the years, amendments and judicial interpretations have continuously shaped its application, emphasizing its role in delivering justice.



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