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THE PRESIDENCY SMALL CAUSE COURTS ACT, 1882

Title : THE PRESIDENCY SMALL CAUSE COURTS ACT, 1882

Year : 1882



This Chapter extends to every place within the local limits of the ordinary original civil jurisdictions of the High Courts of Judicature at Fort William, Madras and Bombay. But nothing contained in this Chapter applies-

(a) To any rent due to Government;

(b) To any rent which has been due for more than twelve months before the application mentioned in section 53.



{Substituted by the A.O.1937 for the original section 51.Bailiffs and appraisers being servants of the Government, their remuneration and other conditions of service are now regulated by rules made, or deemed to be made, under Art.309 of the Constitution of India.}
Four or more persons shall be appointed bailiffs and appraisers for the purposes of this Chapter.]



The persons so appointed {The words "shall give security, to be approved by the said Judges, faithfully to discharge the duties of their office, and they" were repealed by the A.O.1937} shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).



Any person claiming to be entitled to arrears of rent of any house or premises to which this Chapter extends, or his duly constituted attorney, may apply to any Judge of the Small Cause Court, or to the Registrar of the Small Cause Court, for such warrant as is hereinafter mentioned.

The application shall be supported by an affidavit or a affirmation to the effect of the form (marked A) in the third schedule hereto annexed.



The Judge or Registrar may thereupon issue a warrant under his hand and seal and returnable within six days, to the effect of the form (marked B) contained in the same schedule, addressed to any one of such bailiffs.

The Judge or Registrar may at his discretion, upon personal examination of the person applying for such warrant, decline to issue the same.



Every distress under this Chapter shall be made after sunrise and before sunset, and not at any other time.



The bailiff directed to make the distress may force open any stable, outhouse or other building, and may also enter any dwelling-house, the outer door of which may be open, and may break open the door of any room in such dwelling-house for the purpose of seizing property liable to be seized under this Chapter:

Provided that he shall not enter or break open the door of any room appropriated for the zenáná or residence of women, which by the usage of the country is considered private.



In pursuance of the warrant aforesaid the bailiff shall seize the movable property found in or upon the house or premises mentioned in the warrant and belonging to the person from whom the rent is claimed (hereinafter called the debtor), or such part thereof as may, in the bailiff's judgment, be sufficient to cover the amount of the said rent, together with the costs of the said distress:

Provided that the bailiff shall not seize-

(a) Things in actual use; or

(b) Tools and implements not in use, where there is other movable property in or upon the house or premises sufficient to cover such amount and costs; or

(c) The debtor's necessary wearing apparel; or

(d) Goods in the custody of the law.



The bailiff may impound or otherwise secure the property so seized in or on the house or premises chargeable with the rent.



On seizing any property under section 57 the bailiff shall make an inventory of such property and shall give a notice in writing to the effect of the form (marked C) in the third schedule hereto annexed to the debtor, or to any other person upon his behalf in or upon the said house or premises.

Copies of inventory and notice to be filed.- The bailiff shall, as soon as may be, file in the Small Cause Court copies of the said inventory and notice.



The debtor or any other person alleging himself to be the owner of any property seized under this Chapter, or the duly constituted attorney of such debtor or other person, may, at any time within five days from such seizure, apply to any Judge of the said Court to discharge or suspend the warrant, or to release a distrained article, and such Judge may discharge or suspend such warrant or release such article accordingly, upon such terms as he thinks just,
and any of the Judges of the said Court may in his discretion give reasonable time to the debtor to pay the rent due from him.
Upon any such application, the costs attending it and attending the issue and execution of the warrant shall be in the discretion of the Judge, and shall be paid as he directs.



If any claim is made to, or in respect of, any property seized under this Chapter, or in respect of the proceeds or value thereof, by any person not being the debtor, the Registrar of the Small Cause Court, upon the application of the bailiff who seized the property, may issue a summons calling before the Court the claimant and the person who obtained the warrant.

And thereupon any suit which may have been brought in the High Court in respect of such claim shall be stayed, and any Judge of the High Court, on proof of the issue of such summons and that the property was so distrained, may order the plaintiff to pay the costs of all proceedings in such suit after the issue of such summons.
And a Judge of the Small Cause Court shall adjudicate upon such claim and make such order between the parties in respect thereof and of the costs of the proceedings as he thinks fit;and such order shall be enforced as if it were an order made in a suit brought in such Court.

The procedure in Small Cause Courts in cases under this section shall conform, as far as may be, to the procedure in an ordinary suit in such Courts.



In any case under section 60 or section 61 the Judge by whom the case is heard may award such compensation by way of damages to the applicant or claimant (as the case may be) as the Judge thinks fit, and may for that purpose make any inquiry he thinks necessary;
and the order of the Judge awarding or refusing such compensation shall bar any suit for the recovery of compensation for any damage caused by the distress.



In any case under section 60 or section 61, if the value of the subject-matter in dispute exceeds one thousand rupees, the applicant or claimant may apply to the High Court to transfer the case to itself, and the High Court, on being satisfied that it is expedient that the case should be disposed of by itself, may direct the case to be transferred accordingly, and may thereupon alter or set aside any order passed in the case by a Judge of the Small Cause Court, and may make such order therein as the High Court thinks fit,

Every application under this section shall be made within seven days from the date of the seizure of the subject-matter in dispute.
In granting applications under this section, the High Court may impose such terms as to payment of, or giving security for, costs or otherwise as it thinks fit.

The procedure in cases transferred under this section shall conform, as far as may be, to the procedure in suits before the High Court in the exercise of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction; and orders made under this section may be executed as if they were made in the exercise of such jurisdiction, and every such order awarding or refusing compensation shall bar any suit for the recovery of compensation for any damage caused by the distress which gave rise to the case wherein such order was made.



In default of any order to the contrary by a Judge of the Small Cause Court or by the High Court, any two of the said bailiffs may, at the expiration of five days from a seizure of property under this Chapter, appraise the property so seized, and give the debtor notice in writing to the effect of the form (marked D) in the third schedule hereto annexed.

The bailiffs shall file in the Small Cause Court a copy of every notice given under this section.



In default of any such order to the contrary, the distrained property shall be sold on the day mentioned in such notice, and the said bailiffs shall, on realizing the proceeds, pay over the amount thereof to the Registrar of the Small Cause Court; and such amount shall be applied first in payment of the costs of the said distress and then in satisfaction of the debt; and the surplus, if any, shall be returned to the debtor:

Provided that the debtor may direct that the sale shall take place in any other manner, first giving security for any extra costs thereby occasioned.



No costs of any distress under this Chapter shall be taken or demanded except those mentioned in the part (marked E) of the third schedule hereto annexed.

{The second paragraph,, relating to the application of sums raised as costs towards payment of contingent charges and remuneration of bailiff, was repealed by the A.O.1937.}



The Registrar of the Small Cause Court shall keep a book in which all sums received as costs upon distresses made under this Chapter, and all sums paid as remuneration to the said bailiffs, and all contingent charges incurred in respect of such distresses, shall be duly entered.

He shall also enter in the said book all sums realised by sale of the property distrained and paid over to landlords under the provisions of this Chapter.



No distress shall be levied for arrears of rent except under the provisions of this Chapter;

Penalty for making illegal distresses and any person, except a bailiff appointed under section 51, levying or attempting to levy any such distress, shall, on conviction before a Presidency Magistrate, be liable to be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees and with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, in addition to any other liability he may have incurred by his proceedings.

Last updated on July, 2016

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