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Exclusion of Jurisdiction of Civil Court

12 min read

By Arshia Jain

Published On: November 16, 2021 at 16:10 IST

Introduction

The term “jurisdiction” is not mentioned in the Code of Civil Procedure. In layman’s terms, it refers to the court’s ability to settle a dispute. The ancient legal principle ‘Ubi jus Ibi Remedium,’ which translates as ‘Where there is a right, there is a remedy,’ has been invoked by the Indian judiciary. The court venue must have the authority to hear the case. As a result, jurisdiction is typically determined by the location of the offense.

The limit of judicial authority, or the amount to which a court of law can exercise its authority over suits, cases, appeals, and other matters, is characterised as jurisdiction. The term ‘jurisdiction’ was defined in full by the Calcutta High Court in the case of Hriday Nath Roy Vs Ram Chandra[i], decided in 1921.

An examination of the cases in the texts reveals several attempts to define the term Jurisdiction, which has been defined as the authority by which their judicial powers take knowledge of facts and decide causes, or the authority to hear and decide the legal dispute, or the power to hear and decide the subject matter in a dispute among the parties to a suit and to adjudicate or exercise any judicial power or the authority given to a court by the government to understand and learn causes between parties and to give a judgment into effect, or the authority given to a court by the government to understand and learn causes between parties and to give a judgment into effect, or the power to enquire into the facts to apply the law to pronounce the Judgement and put it into execution.

The first stage in filing a lawsuit in court is determining whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter. A court can hear any case if it has all three categories of the jurisdiction (territorial, pecuniary, and subject matter). If the court lacks jurisdiction, it will be considered a lack of jurisdiction and an irregular exercise of jurisdiction. When a court lacks jurisdiction to rule on an issue, the ruling is void or voidable, depending on the circumstances.

Types of Jurisdiction

  • Territorial Jurisdiction:

Under territorial or local jurisdiction, the geographical boundaries of a court’s authority are explicitly recognized and specified. It lacks the authority to exercise jurisdiction outside its geographical/territorial boundaries. If a crime is committed in Madhya Pradesh, for example, only the courts of Madhya Pradesh have jurisdiction to hear and judge the case. In addition, Section 16[ii] of the Code of Civil Procedure clarifies territorial jurisdiction based on the location of immovable property.

The court interpreted Section 16 in Harshad Chiman Lal Modi Vs D.L.F Universal Ltd[iii]to suggest that any claim involving immovable property must be filed with the court. The court does not have the authority to rule on unlocated property rights. In such a case, however, if the opposing party agrees to a trial, the court can still give relief.

  • Pecuniary Jurisdiction:

The phrase ‘pecuniary’ refers to something related to money. It determines whether the court has the jurisdiction to hear the financial worth case. Unless the suit’s value exceeds the court’s financial limit, the code allows for a case analysis. Section 15[iv] of the Code of Civil Procedure governs the organization of the suit in the lower court. It is about the monetary jurisdiction of the Civil Court. It’s a methodical approach with no influence on the court’s jurisdiction. The primary purpose of having pecuniary jurisdiction is to keep a higher court from becoming overworked while simultaneously assisting the parties. If the court judges the verdict is erroneous, it has the authority to interfere.

For example, ‘A’ may wish to charge ‘B’ with breach of contract to receive Rs 5000 in Bombay. The Bombay High Court has both original and small claims jurisdiction, with the jurisdiction of up to Rs 50000. As a result, a Rs 5000 lawsuit should ideally be handled by a small claims court. In the case of Kiran Singh Vs Chaman Paswan[v], the plaintiff filed a claim in the subordinate court for Rs 2950, but the judge dismissed the case. The High Court later approved his next appeal, but he was still obliged to pay the deficiency sum. The appellant claimed that the district court’s decision was unconstitutional, but the High Court dismissed the argument. The Supreme Court then upheld the High Court’s decision, holding that the lower court’s verdict was not invalid.

  • Jurisdiction as to the subject matter:

The authority vested in a court to comprehend and try cases containing a certain type of subject matter can be defined as the authority vested in a court to grasp and try instances involving a particular type of subject matter. In other words, certain courts are forbidden from hearing specific types of cases. A court that lacks subject matter jurisdiction cannot rule on a choice question.

Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure governs the stage of contesting jurisdiction. “Ranveer,” a Sonipat resident, for example, purchased a pest-infested ‘AA’ brand food item. Instead of the Sonipat District Civil Court, he should take the ‘ZZ’ corporation to the Sonipat District Forum.

  • Original or Appellate Jurisdiction:

The ability of a court to examine or rehear cases that have already been decided in lower courts is referred to as appellate jurisdiction. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court in India have appellate jurisdiction over cases presented before them in the form of appeals.

Original jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to take notice of cases that could be adjudicated in these courts in the first instance. Unlike appellate jurisdiction, in which courts review previously resolved issues, cases are heard from the start.

  • Exclusive or Concurrent Jurisdiction:

In Civil Procedure, exclusive jurisdiction refers to a circumstance in which a single court has the authority to decide a case despite the rejection of all other courts. A court’s jurisdiction is determined by the subject matter it deals with. For example, the United States District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over insolvency matters.

When two or more courts from different systems have concurrent jurisdiction over a case, it is known as concurrent jurisdiction. In this situation, parties will make every effort to have their civil or criminal case heard in the court they believe will be most favourable to them.

  • General and Special Jurisdiction:

The term “universal jurisdiction” refers to the fact that general courts do not have to hear only one sort of case. Any form of case can be heard in a court having this jurisdiction. As a result, a court with broad jurisdiction can hear criminal, civil, and family law cases, among other things.

Specific jurisdiction refers to a court’s ability to hear a case in a state other than the defendant’s home state if the defendant has few contacts within the state where the action will be tried.

  • Legal and Equitable Jurisdiction:

The courts’ authorities have equitable jurisdiction to take certain actions and issue orders to achieve an equitable and reasonable outcome. These decisions are typically outside the purview of the law, in the sense that the assistance provided by the courts may or may not be supported by the statute.

In K.K.Velusamy Vs N.Palanisamy[vi], the Supreme Court of India concluded that Section 151 does not confer any particular jurisdiction on civil courts, but rather allows for the use of discretionary power to achieve the ends of justice. This means that to achieve the aims of justice, the court cannot make any order that could be refused or disallowed under any law. This would imply that equitable jurisdiction is secondary to the court’s ability to enforce the law.

Jurisdiction of Civil Court

Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure addresses the jurisdiction of civil courts in India. It declares that the court has jurisdiction to hear all civil issues, except those for which the court’s authority is expressly or implicitly barred.

Conditions:

A civil court has jurisdiction to hear a case if two conditions are met:

  • The litigation must be civil.
  • Such a claim should not have been barred, either explicitly or tacitly.

The suit is of Civil Nature: In any of the acts, there is no explanation for ‘Civil Suit.’ A civil suit is any legal action that is not criminal. Any lawsuit involving the determination and application of civil rights is referred to as civil litigation.

In the case of Kehar Singh Nihal Singh Vs Custodian General[vii], the court expounded on the concept of civil procedures. It was characterized as the giving of private rights to individuals or businesses in society. The goal of the action is to recompense or regain private property rights. A civil action, in other terms, is a judicial proceeding between two parties to enforce or rectify private rights.

  • Nature and Scope:

The word “suit of civil character” will refer to the privacy rights and obligations of individuals. A civil lawsuit does not address political or religious matters. A civil suit is not one in which the principal issue is tied to caste or religion. However, if the main issue in a civil case is a decision on a caste issue or religious rituals and ceremonies, the litigation does not cease to be a civil suit. To determine the important civil question, the court has jurisdiction to address such questions as well.

  • Explanation of Doctrine:

Each term and description impose on the court the obligation to exercise jurisdiction to obtain rights. No court can refuse to review material if it is included in Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure. According to the definition, the term civil refers to an individual citizen. Nature has been defined as the fundamental characteristics of a person or thing. “Civil nature” is more commonly used than “civil process.”

The notion described the theory of civil court jurisdiction under Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as stated by the Supreme Court in PMA Metropolitan Vs M.M. Marthoma[viii]:

  • Section 9 contains phrases with both good and negative connotations.
    • The first half has a broader meaning since it includes all civil nature concerns; on the other hand, the second part has a broader meaning because it rejects the topic that is impliedly or explicitly disallowed.
    • The two arguments presented in Section 9 demonstrate the legislative aims.
    • It charged the court with exercising jurisdiction over the enforcement of private rights.
    • A case brought under this clause may not be dismissed by a court.
    • Because the term “must” be used, implies that it is a required portion, the comprehension of material must be taken.

In the case of Shankar Narayanan Potti Vs K. Sreedevi[ix], the Supreme Court ruled that the “Civil Court has the first jurisdiction in all forms of civil disputes under Section 9 of the CPC unless the action is expressly or impliedly excluded.” This means that by adding a provision or phrase in any Act, the legislature can overrule the civil court’s jurisdiction.

In Shri Panch Nagar Park Vs Purushottam Das[x], the court determined that where a statute lacks clear wording, the court must look to the Act’s design, plan, and suitable provisions to infer implied dismissal of a civil court’s jurisdiction.

  • Test:

A civil action is one in which the right to property or an office is established, even if that right is founded only on a question regarding religious rituals or ceremonies.

  • Cognizance not barred:

A claimant with a civil complaint has the authority to launch a civil suit unless its cognizance is expressly or implicitly prohibited.

  • Suits expressly barred:

A lawsuit is said to be expressly banned when it is expressly prohibited by a statute in effect at the time. It is up to the competent legislature to limit civil courts’ jurisdiction over a certain class of civil disputes, as long as it keeps within the scope of the laws it has been granted and does not violate any constitutional provisions.

  • Suits impliedly barred:

When essential legal principles are considered to preclude a suit, it is said to be impliedly banned. When a statute specifies a certain remedy, it essentially denies a person who requires a remedy in a form other than that specified by the act. When an act generates an obligation and executes it in a certain manner, that performance cannot be repeated.

Exclusion of Jurisdiction

It is usually recognized that the civil court has jurisdiction to hear the case. Regardless of any statute, the prosecution in a civil case has the authority to file a civil complaint unless its notice is expressly or implicitly prohibited, albeit this does not mean that the jurisdiction is fully gone.

In the case of Secretary of State Vs Mask & Co[xi], the Privy Council correctly said that it is established law that the exclusion of civil court jurisdiction is not simply inferred, but that such a ban is either impliedly banned or specified. It is also acknowledged that the civil court has the competence to investigate cases in which the basic standards of judicial procedure have not been followed.

The Supreme Court investigated whether the Civil Courts’ jurisdiction should be eliminated in the case of State of A.P. Vs Majeti Laxmi Kanth Rao[xii]. To begin, it is necessary to determine the legislative intent to dismiss the claim. It could be stated openly or inferentially. The court must investigate and deduce the reasons for the Civil courts’ exclusion, as well as their justifications, although the rationale is not open to judicial scrutiny. If no other remedy is available, the civil court’s jurisdiction cannot be removed.

However, it was determined in Balawwa Vs Hasanabi[xiii] that a civil court’s authority over a statutory tribunal is limited to the amount of support supplied by the tribunal in question. In this regard, the Allahabad High Court has stated in several rulings that the claim is removed from civil court jurisdiction since knowledge of the full lawsuit is barred. It implies that just because specific aspects of a claim are not resolved by a civil court due to an implied or express ban does not suggest that the entire suite is prohibited.

The jurisdiction of the civil court is not limited because further elements of the law are beyond the purview of the tribunal or even if they are within the competence of the specific tribunal governed by the act. The jurisdiction of the civil court is not limited because it retains initial jurisdiction to hear the cases. The question of whether the relevant tribunals under the act can issue an order during the period of the trial when the civil court’s jurisdiction is hampered remains unanswered.

General Principles

  • A court’s jurisdiction is based on the allegations contained in a plaint, not on the defence’s written declaration.
  • The substance of a case, not its form, is what matters when determining a court’s jurisdiction.
  • Every presumption should be formed in favour of civil court jurisdiction.
  • A statute removing a court’s jurisdiction must be interpreted carefully.
  • The burden of proof for a court’s exclusion of jurisdiction is on the party asserting it.
  • Even though a civil court’s authority is limited, it can nonetheless evaluate whether an act’s requirements have been followed or whether an order was issued in violation of the law.
  • The charges in a plaint, not the defence’s written declaration, determine a court’s jurisdiction.
  • When assessing a court’s jurisdiction, the substance of a case, not its form, is what matters.
  • Every presumption should be established in favour of civil court jurisdiction.
  • A statute withdrawing a court’s jurisdiction must be carefully understood.
  • The burden of proof for a court’s exclusion of jurisdiction falls on the party making the claim.
  • Even if a civil court’s authority is limited, it can still determine whether the conditions of an act have been met or whether an order was made in contravention of the law.

Conclusion

The civil court has jurisdiction to investigate whether tribunals, quasi-judicial bodies, and the legal executive operate within their powers. Section 9 appears to be connected with the civil court’s jurisdiction to hear a case. A civil court has the authority to hear a suit unless it is expressly denied or barred by sufficient indication. The civil court has jurisdiction to hear the jurisdictional dispute.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arshia Jain is a second-year law student at SVKM’s NMIMS, School of Law in Navi Mumbai, Mumbai, India, pursuing a BBALLB. When it comes to work, she is a dedicated and hardworking individual. She believes in pursuing one’s dreams and remaining optimistic throughout life.

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider

References


[i] Hriday Nath Roy vs Ram Chandra AIR 1929 Cal 445

[ii] Section 15, 16 of Code of Civil Procedure 1908

[iii] Harshad Chiman Lal Modi Vs D.L.F Universal Ltd (2005) 7 SCC 791

[iv] Section 15 in The Code Of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2002

[v] Kiran Singh Vs Chaman Paswan 504 SC 1954 AIR 340, 1955 SCR 117

[vi] K.K.Velusamy Vs N.Palanisamy 2011 (4) SCALE 61 1 2

[vii] Kehar Singh Nihal Singh Vs Custodian General AIR 1959 P H 58

[viii] PMA Metropolitan Vs M.M. Marthoma 1995 AIR 2001, 1995 SCC Supl. (4) 286

[ix] Shankar Narayanan Potti Vs K. Sreedevi (1998)3 SCC 751

[x] Shri Panch Nagar Park Vs Purushottam Das, 1999 Supp(1) SCR 546

[xi] Secretary of State Vs Mask & Co (1940) 42 BOMLR 767

[xii] State of A.P. Vs Majeti Laxmi Kanth Rao, AIR 2000 SC 2220

[xiii] Balawwa Vs Hasanabi JT 2000 (3) SC 600, (2000) 9 SCC 272