The Second Law commission was appointed by the British Crown under the Charter Act, 1853. The commission was appointed in England on 29th Nov., 1853. It consisted of five members, namely; Sir John Romilly, M. R., Sir John Jervis Chief justice of Supreme Court of Calcutta, Sir Edward Ryan, Ex-chief Justice of Supreme Court at Calcutta, Robert Lone, M.P., afterwards Lord Sherbrook, C.M. Cameron, President of the First Law Commission and law member of Governor General’s Council, John M. Macleod civil servant of Madras and a member of the First Law Commission and T. F. Ellis, a reporter of the decisions of the court of Queen’s Bench as secretary to the law commission.
Sir John Romilly, M. R. was the chairman of the commission. The Commission consisted of leading lawyers of England who also had knowledge of Indian laws. Members were also associated with the First Law Commission. The main function of the commission was to examine the report of the First Law Commission for the purpose of reforming substantive laws of India and judicial procedure. Second Law Commission functioned till 1856. During its 3 years life it submitted four reports
The very first task assigned to the commission was to consider about the preliminary measures which would be necessary for effecting the amalgamation of the Sadar, Courts of each of the presidencies. Consequently in its first report, the commission submitted a plan for the amalgamation of the Supreme Court at Calcutta with the Sadar Diwani and Nizamat Adalats, as well as for simple and uniform codes of civil and criminal procedures. The basic recommendation of the Commission was to constitute a single tribunal called High Court in place of Supreme Court and Sadar Adalats.
The commission pointed out that India wants a body of substantive civil laws, in preparing which the law of England should be used as a basis, which once enacted should itself be the law of India on the subjects it embraced. Commission also recommended that in preparing such body of laws constant regard to be given to the conditions, the character, religions and usages of the population of India. Because Hindu and Mohammedan laws derive their authority from Hindu and Mohammedan religions and British Legislature cannot make laws according to Mohammedan or Hindu religions.
In the third report the commission prepared a plan for the North-Western provinces in order to install there a judicial system and procedure, uniform, as far as the difference of circumstances permit, with the system recommended for Bengal.
In this report the commission recommended a similar plans for the presidencies of Madras and Bombay.
Achievements of Second Law Commission
In 1860, the Indian Penal Code proposed by Macaulay was taken up, revised and finally passed. Codes of Civil Procedure and Criminal Procedure were passed in 1859 and 1861 respectively. Law of Limitation as prepared by the First Law Commission was revised and finally passed in 1859. The commission also prepared a draft of the law of succession and inheritance exempting Hindus and Mohammedans applicable to all other peoples.