Section 4(1) of The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

My Lord, What is the meaning of the expression specific provision to the contrary” in Section 4(1) of The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908?

The scheme of Section 4(1), as its marginal note provides, is to “save” any special or local law from the applicability of The Code of Civil Procedure. The said Section therefore states that whenever there is a special, local, or other law which deals with any matter specified in the Code, those laws will continue to have full force and effect notwithstanding that they deal with the same matter as is contained in The Code of Civil Procedure. From this, however, an exception is carved out, and that exception is that there should not be any “specific provision to the contrary” contained in the Code itself. At one point in time it was not clear as to whether such specific provision should be in the Code itself or could also be contained in any other law. In fact, in Mati Lal Saha v. Chandra Kanta Sarkar, AIR 1947 Cal 1 the Calcutta High Court held that such specific provision to the contrary could be contained in a third Act, namely, the Presidency Small Causes Courts Act, and need not be contained even in the two competing Acts, namely The Code of Civil Procedure and a Bengal Agricultural Debtors Act.

We have no doubt in construing Section 4(1) to say that the “specific provision to the contrary” must be contained in the Code of Civil Procedure itself and nowhere else. “Specific provision” must mean that the particular provision in The Code of Civil Procedure must clearly indicate in itself and not merely by implication that the special law in question is to be affected [See, Maru Ram, (1981) 1 SCC 107].

Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman, Pankajakshi (D) through LRS. v. Chandrika, [Civil Appeal No. 201 of 2005].

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