This article is written by Darshit Vora of SVKM, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. The article covers various kinds of Jurisdiction and further analysis the concept of inherent Jurisdiction of the courts mentioned under Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Jurisdiction refers to the power or authority of the court to decide or hear on a particular issue or matter. According to Cambridge dictionary jurisdiction refers to the authority of the court or official organizations to make Judgments and decisions. In Hadiya vs Ram Chandra, the Supreme Court observed that Jurisdiction refers to the power to hear, determine, and pronounce judgment on the issues before the court. Major SS. Khanna vs Brig Dillon (1963), it was held by the Supreme Court that the issue of Jurisdiction is the first issue that is supposed to be decided by the court. Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium which refers to where there is a right there is a remedy. When the right of a person is infringed for the enforcement of their remedy the person must go to an adequate forum. The Jurisdiction of a case is decided on following grounds:
- Subject matter
- Financial Value
- Geographical limits.
Illustration: A is a tenant of B which was supposed to reside from 1996 to 1998 but he resided till 1999 he stayed illegally in possession of B for 1 year the place was located in Madhya Pradesh. Therefore, if B files a suit in Uttar Pradesh then the case would be rejected because the Court of Uttar Pradesh doesn’t have Jurisdiction. The case is supposed to be tried in Uttar Pradesh considering the geographical limits.
Inherent Jurisdiction is used in almost all fields of law, it is the power that should be used carefully ensuring that there is no arbitrariness or uncertainty. The objective of inherent Jurisdiction is to ensure that courts can exercise its power within limited circumstances.
Kinds of Jurisdiction
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction: In pecuniary jurisdiction, the court decides to try cases based on its monetary value. It refers to the valuation done by the plaintiff and is considered for determining the suit. If the court feels that the valuation done by the plaintiff is not appropriate then the court would direct the plaintiff to appropriate forums.
Illustration: A sues B for selling him adulterated Product he claims the compensation worth 25,000 rupees but files a suit in the National Commission. The National Commission would dismiss the case of A and direct him to file a suit in the District forum.
- Subject Matter of Jurisdiction: The court is expressly barred from hearing cases which they are not supposed to try. A court pronouncing a judgment without having the authority to try the case the judgment would be held null and void.
Illustration: A sues B for cutting 20 trees in his locality he is supposed to file a suit in National Green Tribunal if he files a suit in the District Court it would get dismissed.
- Territorial Jurisdiction In territorial Jurisdiction the court tries those cases where the offenses are committed in their area of the jurisdiction where their decree or an order can be enforced. However, in Lal Modi V DLF Universal Ltd (2005) the Supreme Court held that even though the court doesn’t have a territorial Jurisdiction the decision can be pronounced if the other party agrees.
Illustration: A damages the car of B in Uttar Pradesh he then moves to Kolkata where he conducts his manufacturing business. A gets the option either to file a suit in Uttar Pradesh or Kolkata he can’t file a suit in any other place.
Inherent Jurisdiction is an English common law doctrine that refers to the exclusive authority of the court to hear the matters that come before it unless restricted by the State. In Bremer Vulkan Schiffbau and Maschinenfabrik v. South India Shipping Corporation Ltd (1981), the House of Lords has defined Inherent Jurisdiction as a general power to control its procedures to prevent it from being used to achieve injustice.
The Court can use its power of inherent Jurisdiction in four general situations:
- To present the abuses of the process.
- To ensure convenience and fairness in the legal proceedings.
- To take steps to reduce judicial proceeding inefficacies.
- To act as an aid of the Supreme Court or control of the inferior court or tribunals.
To try any civil case through the power of inherent Jurisdiction, it needs to comply with the provision of S. 9 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code: In this section mentions the court can try any civil case and the court is not expressly or impliedly barred from taking the cognizance of the suit.
- The case tried in the court should be civil.
- The court should not be expressly or impliedly barred from trying the case.
The suit should be civil in Nature: For the enforcement of the Suit, the case must involve a violation of private rights. In civil, there arises a dispute between individuals or organizations the party whose rights are violated then a compensation amount is awarded. There exists a wide difference between suits of civil nature and civil cases.
Examples of suits which are of civil nature are as follows:
- Suits for rent.
- Suits for dissolution of marriage.
- Suits for the right of franchise.
Examples of suits are not of civil nature are as follows:
- Suit on expulsion from caste.
- Suits involving religious rites and ceremonies.
- The suit involves voluntary payment in the offering.
The Court should be expressly or impliedly barred: Expressly barred refers to when the legislation restricts the scope of jurisdiction of the civil courts from restricting to try a particular class of suit. The power of the legislation should be implemented in such a manner that there is no breach of a provision of the Constitution. In Shankar Narayan vs K Shreedevi, (1998) the Supreme Court, in this case, mentioned that civil courts have primary jurisdiction on all civil matters unless it is expressly or impliedly barred.
Illustration: The parliament passed an Act to form a National Green Tribunal that expressly bars the sessions Court, High Courts to deal with suits involving environment violation.
Impliedly barred refers to when a restriction is being imposed on the court by the general principles of law. If a suit remedy to a person needs to be provided in a specific manner and then the person a remedy in any other manner there would be an implied barrier. The court cannot take cognizance of those cases where the suits are against the public policy. Performance needs to be enforced in a specific manner then the performance cannot be executed in any other manner. In Raja Ram Kumar vs Union of India (1998) while considering implied jurisdiction the Supreme Court observed that if a right is recognized in common law and if a new statutory remedy is being enforced both statutory and common law remedies would become concurrent.
Illustration: If A and B enter into a contract of smuggling drugs A defaults B, B files a suit in the court which would dismiss the case as because the object was unlawful the court is barred from trying such suits.
In Hasham Abbas vs Uaman Abbas, in this case, the Judgment was pronounced being expressly and impliedly barred to try the case. The Supreme Court held that the decision was null and void.
The presumption of Jurisdiction should not be inferred until and unless a specific law established by the legislation debars Court from exercising its jurisdiction.
The burden of proof
The burden of proof is upon the party which claims that the court doesn’t have the power to try the case. In Abdul vs Bhavani (1996), the Supreme Court held that every presumption should be made in favour of the civil court, exclusion of Jurisdiction shall strictly be construed. Where a party raises such contention he needs to prove various status, relevant provisions, and object and purpose of the enactment.
General principles associated with Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908
- A decree passed by the court without having the Jurisdiction would be null and void.
- The presumption of jurisdiction should be made in favour of the civil court.
- The burden of proof is upon the party which asserts the exclusion of jurisdiction.
- For deciding the jurisdiction substance of the matter is important and not its form.
- Jurisdiction of a suit depends upon the claims made by the plaintiff in the plaint and not upon the written statement.
- Consent cannot take away or confer the jurisdiction of the suit in a particular court.
Judicial observation on the jurisdiction of the civil court
Dhulabhai vs State of MP (1968)
In this case, Justice Hindyatullah said various principles on the exclusion of jurisdiction by various civil courts.
- When a state provides the finality of orders, the civil court jurisdiction is prohibited from typing the case. Such provisions don’t eliminate those cases which have not complied with the fundamental laws of the Judicial method.
- When there is an express bar of jurisdiction of the court, an examination of the bar of a jurisdiction scheme of a particular act to find a sufficient remedy, but this is not crucial for maintaining civil court jurisdiction.
- It examines terms of specific acts as an ultra virus and the decision of the tribunal cannot go for a revision or reference by the High Court.
- When the terms are stated to be illegal or constitutionality of any term is challenged. Then a writ of certiorari may be introduced on the ground of refund but it is not necessary to compensate for the suit.
- Prohibitions of the jurisdiction cannot take place until these provisions are inferred by the court.
This was a landmark judgment delivered by the privy council it held that jurisdiction cannot be decided merely on the ground of inferences. The court should have an exclusive jurisdiction to try the case. It also held that even if the jurisdiction has been expressly or impliedly barred, the court is given the power to discuss the merits of the case.
In this case, the Supreme Court made a certain observation regarding Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code.
- Various phrases contained under Section 9 have both positive and negative implications.
- The initial part debars opens the doors to try civil cases in the court, latter debars from the entry of those cases which are expressly r impliedly barred.
- The initial part was added during the inception and the latter was added after 1976 explains the legislative intent.
- A religious matter which involves the right of property is a case of civil nature, the civil court is competent to try the case.
- The words and expressions impose an obligation on the court to enforce the rights of the parties.
- No court can refuse to try cases that are mentioned in the description.
- The word Shall makes it a compulsory section.
The Supreme Court laid down two tests about the exclusion of jurisdiction of the civil court.
- There should be a legislative intent to exclude the jurisdiction of the civil court. It could be either directly or indirectly, have to mention adequate reasons for justification for the exclusion of the suit.
- There should be an existence of an alternate remedy available for the claimant if not the jurisdiction of the civil court cannot be excluded.
A civil court needs to try a specific case to consider Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code into consideration. Excluding two restrictions of the case is civil and implied or expresses a barrier it can try any case. The Court can also dismiss the case when it finds that t6he plaintiff has not compiled to the kinds of jurisdiction Subject matter, Territorial and Pecuniary. Parties are not allowed to decide the suit they are supposed to comply with the provisions of law.
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