This article is written by Khushi Sharma pursuing B.A.LLB from IIMT, IP University (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders). This article deals with the difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law.
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
Table of Contents
As a law student or anybody related to the legal field we might know every branch that the law of our country expands to, but a layman may only have basic knowledge of the law. Two of such branches to which everybody is acquainted are Civil and Criminal laws. These two subjects are the usual heads under the law which probably covers the major part of it as well. A generic difference can be ascertained by anyone but in this article, we are going to analyse in detail what all is covered under Civil and Criminal laws.
The law of India has a wide variety of segregations under it because of our widespread population which causes infringement of the laws by people and infringement of people’s rights. Due to the increase in such acts, a variety of legislations were needed to be presented in India which provided us with many types and branches under the law. The law of India is divided into the following heads of the law –
- Public and Private Law;
- Civil Law and Criminal Law;
- Substantive and Procedural Law;
- Municipal and International Law.
Apart from these we also have Common Laws and Statutory Laws. These above-mentioned laws cover a huge variety of acts and legislations under them thus enabling India to have so many different laws from which we are going to focus on Civil & Criminal law, and their differences.
Civil laws in a generic sense mean an injury or harm caused to an individual or any other private property (corporation) by the act or the behaviour of any other person. The acts committed by the party are non-criminal in nature under Civil laws. It commonly deals with solving disputes between parties. Civil laws usually deal with relief by providing compensation or fine to the aggrieved party or to the Court. Damages caused by Civil laws are to be managed by compensation. Civil law does not create an offence against society at large, unlike Criminal Law.
Features of Civil Law
Civil law being so dynamic is stuck with many varied features and distinguishing essentials which are as follows –
- Civil law is a branch of law in which cases are tried under Civil Courts and Tribunals relating to that.
- The damages caused to either of the parties are resolved by paying them an amount of money and not through imprisonment.
- They are a set of codified laws and decisions which are binding on the parties involved.
- Civil law is greatly inclined towards contractual obligations as contract law is the major branch of the same.
Branches under Civil Law
As mentioned above, Civil Law being so vast has a bunch of dynamic branches constituting a very fruitful legal career for the people involved in it. The working machinery under Civil law focuses on providing dispute resolving mechanisms to the parties. Civil law has many varied branches, many of them are codified, some are defined and some are based on precedents. Following are the branches available under Civil laws –
The Contract law is one of the most widely practised and used civil laws. A contract law includes legally enforceable agreements and contracts and provides effective remedies and procedures for enforcing contractual relations in general. It provides pertinent remedies for breach of contract and how an injured party can seek relief from the court of law. It is a very commonly used branch under Civil law. The statute governing Contract law is the Indian Contract Act,1872. The Contract Act regulates all the legally enforceable contracts and explains what contracts are valid and which are not.
Tort law is also a widely used branch of Civil law. Tort in Common Law jurisdiction is Civil law. It includes damage or harm caused by a person to another person which creates a legal liability towards the person who has caused harm to the other party. The aggrieved person can claim damages from the other person who committed a tortious act. It can include acts like negligence, trespass, invasion of privacy. Most of the tort law is uncodified and doesn’t have any prominent statute regulating it.
Family law is the law governing domestic relations. It governs laws in family matrimonial matters. It includes matters like adoption, wills, divorce, marriage etc., the family matters can sort for proper court proceedings or mediation upto their choice. The Family law is governed by a bunch of statutes like – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; the Special Marriage Act, 1954; Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1839, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, Hindu Succession Act, 1925.
Administrative law is the division of Civil law that governs the activities of branches of government. Administrative law is related to executive branch rulemaking, adjudication or enforcement of laws. Civil law countries have specialized administrative courts that review these decisions. Administrative law deals with making decisions for the units of government.
Business/ Corporate/ Commercial Laws
Business laws are the laws that revolve around business and commerce. This branch of Civil law deals both with public and private laws. It applies rights, regulations, laws and duties related to commerce and business. The corporate section of the Civil law is responsible for laws related to companies. It regulates the formation, dissolution, investments of the business or the company. Some of the legislation regulating business and corporate laws are the Companies Act, 1956, Sales of Goods Act, 1930, SARFAESI Act, 2002, Indian Partnership Act, 1932.
There are many more branches of Civil law that are commonly seen in the legal profession like Tax law, Property law, Media/Entertainment law, Sports law etc.
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and Civil Law
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 is the law that is behind the procedure of civil proceedings. The institution of a case is explained in the Code of Civil procedure (CPC) and other procedures related to Civil Law. The code is divided into two parts – the first containing 158 Sections and the second part containing the 1st Schedule which has 51 Orders and Rules. All the proceedings under Civil law must be in accordance with CPC for taking action in the Court. CPC is an important tool for Civil litigation. Budding lawyers to specialise in Civil law must be thoroughly well versed with it.
Criminal law is the law that relates to crime and its related punishments. Criminal law deals with offences that are against conventional society. It is a crime against the state because of the evil nature of the crime and every member of society must know the heinous crime committed and the equivalent punishment given to the accused. There must be adequate awareness in the case of Criminal law rather than Civil law. Criminal law consists of acts that are harmful or otherwise endangering the health or property of a person. Criminal law focuses on punishment and retribution more than dispute resolving as seen in Civil law. The acts constituting under Criminal Law are graver than Civil law as the damage and injury are caused to a person in a way that can be very terrifying for society to imagine and to live.
Features of Criminal Law
- Cases under Criminal law are tried under Criminal Courts or Sessions Court.
- The harm done to a person is justified by providing equivalent punishments to the perpetrator.
- It creates a public offence against the public interest and not a private liability.
- It is an infringement of public rights.
Acts under Criminal Law
Unlike Civil law, Criminal law is not varied as such into branches but it has some very important procedural and regulating acts which are required pertinent for being considered as a criminal case. These acts govern all the rules and regulations for criminal acts. Following are the acts under Criminal law –
The Indian Penal Code, 1860
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the official code for criminal law in India. IPC is the substantive law of India The Code contains all the offences that are constituted as crimes in India. It explains all the crimes, their essentials and the mentioned punishments for the same. Every crime ever committed in the history of India is mentioned under this code. This Code was created by the recommendations of the First Law Commission of India. The Code contains 23 chapters and 511 Sections in total.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
The procedure for criminal law is mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). It governs the procedural administration of the substantive laws. It also provides information and procedure for the investigation of crime, apprehension of crime, collectiction of evidence, direction for guilty or innocent and provides direction towards the punishment as well. The Act contains 565 Sections, 5 Schedules and 56 forms.
The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
The Evidence Act, 1872 provides for the admissibility of evidence in the court of law. It mentions the way evidence is collected and what types of admissible evidence are present. The Evidence Act also mentions details about the relevancy of facts and how they can be a crucial element in proving the existence of a crime. It gives immense importance to the series of facts committed and all the evidence recorded amidst it. It contains a total of 167 Sections.
Difference between Civil Law and Criminal law
|Civil law deals with acts related to individuals to which harm caused can be repaid by compensation or monetary relief.
|Criminal law deals with a crime that causes damage to a person which is an offence against society as well. The relief of crime committed is to charge the person with Imprisonment.
|It creates a private liability against an individual or an organisation.
|It creates a liability for the preparator against society and the victim.
|Justice is given by providing monetary relief against the damages in most cases.
|Justice is given by providing the accused imprisonment for a term or fine or both.
|Cases under Civil law are triable under Civil Court or equivalent tribunals.
|Cases under Criminal law are tried under Criminal Court or Sessions Court.
|Objective of Civil law is dispute resolution between Individuals
|Objective of Criminal law is providing justice to the victim by punishing the accused.
|Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
|Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
|Gravity of offences
|Less grave than Criminal
|More grave than Civil
|Filing of the case
|In Civil Cases the aggrieved party files the case
|In Criminal Cases, the government files on behalf of the victim
|Normally in Civil Cases, the case can be directly filed to the Court.
|In Criminal Cases, the case needs to be registered in the police office before the court directly
|Infringement of private rights
|Infringement of public rights
|Corporate law, Family law, Property law, Media law, Sports law etc.
|No diversion as such
|Examples of Acts
|Negligence, Invasion of privacy, Trespass etc.
|Murder, Rape, Kidnapping, theft etc.
There is an indeterminate difference between Civil and Criminal law. Both being the most important branches of law have their own unique sets of regulations and rules. Civil and Criminal laws are regulated by strong legislation and procedural laws. Civil law has dispute resolution machinery whereas Criminal law has retribution machinery. These two branches of law cover most parts of the law. People willing to choose between them can choose any as they are very important for the effective working for our country. Branches of Civil law are more varied than Criminal law. Civil law has many diversions as we observed, it contains Property law, Corporate law, Business Law and many more. Some branches of Civil law are uncodified such as torts but under Criminal law almost all the laws and regulations are codified, so each and every point which distinguishes both the law stands out and creates full-fledged machinery for our country to work and eliminate crime efficiently, whether it’s in the offices or roads.
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