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How to read an Act ?

• Remember that Law (Act) is binding in nature
on those to whom it applies – individuals, general
society, corporates, firms, or any groups in the

•To regulate different subject matters, a separate
law may be enacted, such as taxation,
companies, environment, labour and industry
matters, minimum wages, crimes, procedures of
courts – both criminal and civil courts, manner of
ascertaining facts by evaluating the evidence etc.
• Every Act is a piece of legislation made into law
after passing the process of enactment. Initially, a
Bill is introduced and after debates in the
legislatures (Parliament or State Legislative
Assemblies), the bill is sent to President or Governor
for giving his assent and thereafter the Bill comes an
Act and after publishing in the Official Gazette, the
Act comes into operation either from the date of
publication or on a date as may be specified in the
Act or at a later date when the Central Government
or State Government is empowered to declare.
Arrangement of Acts
• Each Act is identified with a Title such as
“The Indian Contract Act, 1872”, “The
Companies Act, 1956” etc. The year at
the end of the name of the Act signifies
the year in which it is enacted as law.
• Below the Title of Act, a preamble will be
there which gives the purpose or object for
which that Act is enacted.
• The entire text of the Act is divided into
various Sections and some Acts may also
have Schedules with cross reference to a
particular Section of the Act.
• The 1st Section of any Act contains three
sub-sections, namely:
• (i) Short Title (This Act may be called
…”The Indian Contract Act, 1872”)
• (ii) Extent (it extends to the whole of India
or to any part of the country or a State)
• (iii) Commencement (it gives the date
from which the Act commences its
operation or a power is given to the
Government to declare any date in future
to give effect to the provisions of the Act).
• Section 2: Interpretation or Definitions (of certain terms and
words used in the text of the Act are interpreted or defined
and that definition should be relevant for interpretation of
any matter dealt in the Act).

• Subsequent Sections sometimes create certain authorities to
enforce the provisions of the subject matter of that Act
(Income Tax Officers, Company Law Board, Enforcement
Directorate, etc.)

• Appellate Authorities are created within the Act to provide a
chance to appeal against the actions or orders of the
Enforcement Authorities of the Act.

• When no Enforcement Authorities or Appellate Authorities
are stated in the Act, then normal Civil Courts of the country
deal with such cases. (As in the case of Contract Act, Sale of
Goods Act, Partnership Act etc.)
Arrangement of the Indian
Contract Act, 1872
• Preamble of the Act: WHEREAS it is expedient
to define and amend certain parts of the law
relating to contracts; It is hereby enacted as
• It contains 238 Sections divided into X
chapters. (Chapters VII and XI repealed with
enactment of Sale of Goods Act, 1930 and
Indian Partnership Act, 1932).
Section Chapter Subject matter

1-2 Prelim. Short title, interpretation clause
3-9 I Of the Communication, Acceptance and
Revocation of Proposals
10-30 II Of Contracts, Voidable Contracts and Void
31-36 III Contingent Contracts
37-67 IV Performance of Contracts
68-72 V Of certain relations resembling those created by
Contract (Quasi Contracts)
73-75 VI Of the consequences of Breach of Contract
76-123 VII Repealed by the Sale of Goods Act, 1930
124-147 VIII Of Indemnity and Guarantee
148-181 IX Of Bailment, Pledges etc.
182-238 X Agency
239-266 XI Of Partnership (repealed by the Indian Partnership
Act, 1932)