Few Remarks on Vasilije Lazarevic's Penal Code Draft (1839)

Stanković, Uroš
July 2011
Proceedings of Novi Sad Faculty of Law / Zbornik Radova Pravnog ;2011, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p459
Academic Journal
The article sheds light on some unfamiliar details related to Penal Code Draft for Serbia from 1839, authored by the mayor of Zemun Vasilije Lazarevic. As this document to a large extent remained neglected in monographs and articles in relation with codification of criminal law in Serbia in 19th century, the author resolved to explore this topic thoroughly. Archival materials provided solid basis to learn more information in terms of what occurred to forgotten draft after Ministry of Justice had received it. Lazarevic consigned his draft to Minstry of Justice between the end of July and beginning of October 1839. Not long afterwards, the Ministry proposed State Council to form a committee tasked with revision of the draft. State Council rejected the proposal, instructing the Ministry to appoint persons to revise the draft on its own. Only when they have finished revision, the draft would be examined by the State Council's committee. In the following year, 1840, Ministry of Justice requested Prince Mihailo Obrenovic (1839-1842, 1860-1868) to elect members of the committee to revise Lazarevic's draft. Not having jurisdiction over fullfillment of such request, the prince recommended State Council to do so. State Council opted for Minister of Justice Stefan Stefanovic-Tenka, legislator Jovan Hadžic, judge of Appellate Court Lazar Zuban and head of Department of Police and Economics in Ministry of Internal affairs Stefan Radicevic. However, due to turbulent political climate in Serbia, the committee was unable to execute its duty. In 1841, a new committee was formed by State Council. It was made up of member of State Council Golub Petrovic, Minister of Justice Stefan Radicevic, head of Department of Quarantine and Sanitation in Ministry of Internal Affairs Jovan Stejic and professor of law Jovan Raic. Existing historical sources and literature reveal contradictory data regarding the committee's activity. The last commission was appointed in 1843, and it included member of State Council Lazar Zuban, head of Department of Ministry of Justice Sava Šilic, president of Belgrade District Court Lazar Arsenijevic-Batalaka and legislator Jovan Hadžic. The committee had only partly revised the draft, after which it lied in the archives of State Council. At initiative of Department of Justice, State Council adopted the resolution that new drafts of Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure should be composed, which meant Lazarevic's work ceased to represent basis for codification of criminal law. Lacking information on the contents of the draft and observations of committees, available archival materials do not allow to draw resolute conclusions on the topic. Nevertheless, the records of Petrovaradin Border Regiment kept in Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, some of which contain data on early codification of criminal and civil law in Serbia, may potentially offer more explanations to this subject.


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