The Kazis Act, 1880
(12 OF 1880)
[9th July, 1880]
An Act for the appointment of persons to the Office of Kazi.
Whereas by the preamble to [Act No. 11 of 1864.] (An Act to repeal the law relating to the offices of Hindu and Muhammadan Law officers and to the offices of Kazi-ul-Kuzaat and of Kazi, and to abolish the former offices) it was (among other things) declared that it was inexpedient that the appointment of the Kazi-ul-Kuzaat, or of City, Town or Pargana Kazis, should be made by the Government, and by the same Act the enactments relating to the appointment by the Government of the said officers were repealed; and whereas by the usage of the Muhammadan community in some parts of [India] the presence of Kazis appointed by the Government is required at the celebration of marriages and the performance of certain other rites and ceremonies, and it is therefore expedient that the Government should again be empowered to appoint persons to the office of Kazi; It is hereby enacted as follows:-
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY ▼
1. Short Title .-This Act May Be Called The Kazis Act, 1880;
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Local extent .-It extends, in the first instance, only to the territories administered by the Governor of Fort Saint George in Council. [But the Government of any other State] may, from time to time, by notification in the Official Gazette, extend it to the whole or any part of the territories under its [administration].
Object & Reasons▼
Statement of Objects and Reasons.-Under the Muhammadan Law the Kazi was chiefly a judicial Officer. His principal powers and duties are stated at some length in the Hedaya, Book XX. He was appointed by the State, and may be said to have corresponded to our Judge or Magistrate. In addition, however, to his functions under the Muhammadan law, the Kazi in this country, before the advent of British rule, appears to have performed certain other duties, partly of secular and partly of a religious nature. The principal of these seems to have been preparing, attesting and registering deeds of transfer of property, celebrating marriages and performing other rites and ceremonies. It is not apparent that any of these duties were incumbent on the Kazi as such. It is probable that the customary performance of them by him arose rather from his being a public functionary and one known by official position to be acquainted with the law, than from his having, as Kazi, a greater claim to perform them any one else.
Such was the position of the Kazi in this country under Native Government. On the introduction of the British rule, Judges and Magistrates took the place of Kazis, and the Kazi in his judicial capacity disappeared; but the British Government, though no longer recognising the judicial functions of the Kazi, did not abolish the office. By certain Regulations passed from time to time, the appointment of Kazi-ul-Kuzaat and Kazis by the State was provided for, and the performance of their non-judicial duties was recognised by law, in the case of Bengal, indeed, certain additional duties were imposed on them. The duties of the Kazi under there Regulations comprised some or all of the following, viz.:-
(1) preparing and attesting deeds of transfer and other law-papers;
(2) celebrating marriages and presiding at divorces;
(3) performing various rites and ceremonies;
(4) superintending the sale of distrained property and paying charitable and other pensions and allowances.
In the course of subsequent legislation, the first and last of the above duties devolved on officers specially appointed for the purpose, and there remained nothing to be performed by the Kazi but the second and third, which were purely , ceremonial. Under these circumstances it appeared no longer necessary that the Government should appoint these officers. Accordingly, in 1864, Act 11 of that year, all the regulations relating to the appointment of Kazis by Government and the duties to be discharged by them were repealed, but in order that it might be clear that no interference with the ceremonial functions of these officers was intended, a section was added to that Act as follows:-
2. Power to appoint Kazis for any local area .-Wherever it appears to the State Government that any considerable number of the Muhammadans resident in any local area desire that one or more Kazis should be appointed for such local area, the State Government may, if it thinks fit, after consulting the principal Muhammadan residents of such local area, select one or more fit persons and appoint him or them to be Kazis for such local area.
If any question arises whether any person has been rightly appointed Kazi under this section, the decision thereof by the State Government shall be conclusive.
The State Government may, if it thinks fit, suspend or remove any Kazi appointed under this section who is guilty of any misconduct in the execution of his office, or who is for a continuous period of six months absent from the local area for which he is appointed, or leaves such local area for the purpose of residing elsewhere, or is declared an insolvent, or desires to be discharged from the office, or who refuses or becomes in the opinion of the State Government unfit, or personally incapable, to discharge the duties of the office.
3. Naib Kazis .-Any Kazi appointed under this Act may appoint one or more persons as his naib or naibs to act in his place in all or any of the matters appertaining to his office throughout the whole or in any portion of the local area for which he is appointed, and may suspend or remove any naib so appointed.
When any Kazi is suspended or removed under section 2, his naib or naibs (if any) shall be deemed to be suspended or removed, as the case may be.
4. Nothing in Act to confer judicial or administrative powers; or to render the presence of Kazi necessary; or to prevent any one acting as Kazi .-Nothing herein contained, and no appointment made hereunder, shall be deemed-
(a) to confer any judicial or administrative powers on any Kazi or Naib Kazi appointed hereunder; or
(b) to render the presence of a Kazi or Naib Kazi necessary at the celebration of any marriage or the performance of any rite or ceremony; or
(c) to prevent any person discharging any of the functions of a Kazi.