Jurisdiction of Courts: A Comprehensive Analysis of Provisions and Jurisprudence
Introduction to Jurisdiction of Courts
Jurisdiction of Courts is a fundamental concept in the realm of civil litigation. It refers to the authority vested in a court to hear and decide matters. This article delves into the various aspects of jurisdiction, as outlined in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC), and discusses relevant judgments that have shaped the understanding of this concept.
Legal Framework: Provisions in the CPC
Section 15-20: Territorial Jurisdiction
The CPC, in Sections 15 to 20, lays down the principles for determining the territorial jurisdiction of a court. It generally resides where the defendant resides or where the cause of action arises. Section 15 states that every suit shall be instituted in the court of the lowest grade competent to try it. Section 16 specifies that suits concerning immovable property must be instituted in the court within whose local limits the property is situated. Section 17 allows for suits against multiple defendants residing in different jurisdictions to be instituted in any court within whose local limits any of the defendants resides or carries on business. Section 18 provides for suits relating to movable property that has been wrongfully taken out of one jurisdiction and placed in another. Section 19 deals with suits for compensation for wrongs to person or movable property and states that they may be instituted either in the court within whose local limits the wrong was done or where the defendant resides or carries on business. Section 20 deals with other suits and states that they may be instituted either in the court within whose local limits the defendant resides or carries on business or where the cause of action arises, wholly or in part1.
Section 9: Jurisdiction of Civil Courts
Section 9 of the CPC provides that civil courts have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature unless expressly or impliedly barred. A suit is of a civil nature if it involves a right recognized by law and enforceable by a civil court. The section also states that no suit shall be dismissed on the ground that it ought to have been tried by another court2.
Categories of Jurisdiction
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
This refers to whether the particular court in question has the jurisdiction to deal with the subject matter in question. For example, a civil court cannot deal with a criminal matter, and vice versa. Similarly, a family court cannot deal with a tax matter, and so on. The subject matter jurisdiction of a court depends on the nature of the suit and the relief sought by the plaintiff.
This pertains to whether the court can decide upon matters within the territory or area where the cause of action arose. For example, a court in Delhi cannot decide upon a matter that arose in Mumbai, unless there is some connection between the parties or the subject matter and Delhi. The territorial jurisdiction of a court depends on the place where the defendant resides or carries on business, or where the property or wrong is situated or done.
This involves whether the court can hear a suit of the value in question. For example, a district court cannot hear a suit whose value exceeds its pecuniary limit, which may vary from state to state. The pecuniary jurisdiction of a court depends on the valuation of the suit and the relief claimed by the plaintiff.
Landmark Judgments for Jurisdiction of Courts
Hirday Nath Roy vs. Ram Chandra Barna Sharma, 1920 SCC OnLine Cal 85
This full bench judgment of the Calcutta High Court sought to explain the term jurisdiction. It stated that jurisdiction may be defined as the power of a court to hear and determine a cause3. It also distinguished between lack of jurisdiction and irregular exercise of jurisdiction.
Lala Ram Swarup & Ors. vs. Shikar Chand & Anr., [1966(2) SCR 553]
This Supreme Court case formulated tests for dealing with the question about exclusion of Civil Courts’ jurisdiction4. It held that such exclusion must be either expressly stated or clearly implied by law, and that it must not be readily inferred unless there is an adequate alternative remedy.
Understanding the jurisdiction of courts is pivotal for the effective conduct of civil litigation. The CPC provides a comprehensive framework, and various landmark judgments have further clarified the scope and extent of jurisdiction.
References for Jurisdiction of Courts
- Section 15-20 of The Code Of Civil Procedure, 1908
- Section 9 of The Code Of Civil Procedure, 1908
- Hirday Nath Roy vs. Ram Chandra Barna Sharma, 1920 SCC OnLine Cal 85
- Lala Ram Swarup & Ors. vs. Shikar Chand & Anr., [1966(2) SCR 553]
Provisions of Law
|Sr. No.||Provision / Section of Law||Exact text of the Provision / Section of Law|
|1||Section 15-20 of the CPC, 1908||“Territorial Jurisdiction”|
|2||Section 9 of the CPC, 1908||“Courts to try all civil suits unless barred.- The Courts shall (subject to the provisions herein contained) have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred. Explanation I.- A suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies. Explanation II.- For the purposes of this section, it is immaterial whether or not any fees are attached to the office referred to in Explanation I or whether or not such office is attached to a particular place.”|