Jurisdiction of Civil Courts Law Insider

By Mohammed Asif

Published On: February 06, 2022 at 9:45 IST


The very fundamental principle that is being followed by everyone and also attached with the law profession is Ubi Jes Ibi Remedium which means where there is right there is a remedy. The Jurisdiction basically applies where the Offence has been committed. The meaning and concept of Jurisdiction is not explained in the Code of Civil Procedure.

Meaning of Jurisdiction

The word ‘Jurisdiction’ is obtained from Latin words juris and dicto which is said as “I speak by law”. Jurisdiction is defined as the power authorities of the court to Adjudicate the cases, appeal suits and to render a particular Judgment in the law. Jurisdiction of a court means the scope to deliver Justice ordered with in reference to the subject matter, pecuniary value and local limits.

Landmark cases

Hariday Nath Roy v. Ramchandra[1]

In this case, the Calcutta High Court has explained the eloquence of the word Jurisdiction in detail. It was held that during an investigation or inquiry in books that exhibit various efforts to describe the term jurisdiction, which is established as:

  •  the power to hear and adjudicate the issues of law and facts or
  •  the Power by which the judges take the cognizance of facts which are given or
  •  the power to listen and adjudicate any legal controversies or
  • the Power to listen and take the subject matter in issue between the parties and also to adjudicate or
  • the power to affirm the judgment on the issues of facts and law laid before the court or
  •  the power to go through the facts, to apply the law, to ordain the judgment, and to execute the same which is conferred by the legislature upon Court

Official Trustee v. Sachindra Nath [2]

In this case, the Supreme Court observed that before a court can be held to have the jurisdiction to decide a particular matter, it must not only have jurisdiction to try the suit brought before it, but must also have the authority to pass the order sought for. It is inadequate that it has some jurisdiction in reference to the subject matter of the suit.

Its jurisdiction must include the power to hear and decide the questions at issue, the authority to hear and decide the particular controversy that has a relation between the parties.

Grounds to determine Jurisdiction

The court having jurisdiction before the acceptance of a notice of a crime need to consider the following grounds:

  • Fiscal value
  • Territorial boundaries of a court
  • Subject matter of the court

Deficiency of Jurisdiction

The fundamental issue is to decide whether the suit filed in the court has jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Courts have the power to deal with any kind of civil suits, if the court has all the three territorial, pecuniary and subject matter jurisdiction. It will be recognised as deficiency in jurisdiction if it lacks all these three jurisdictions. The decision of the court will be determined as void or voidable when the court lacks jurisdiction.

Hierarchy of Civil courts in India

The hierarchy of the Civil courts in India and its names differs in different states. And this hierarchy of the courts in every state is subsidiary to its specific high courts to control and regulate the civil matters. These civil courts are allocated to a distinct territory in a city or a town of the State.

For instance, in Andhra Pradesh, the civil court hierarchy in State level is systemized as:

  • City civil courts
  • Courts of smaller causes
    Similarly, the civil courts hierarchy in subordinate courts at district level is systemized as:
  • District judge
  • Sub-court (senior civil judge)
  • Principal junior civil judge court (principal junior civil judge)
  • Munsif court (district munsif or junior civil judge)

Before the Junior civil judge, suits up to three lakhs of monetary value is filed. And before the Senior Civil judges suits up to three lakhs but not exceeding fifteen lakhs of pecuniary value are filed. And in High Court there is no monetary jurisdiction and only Appeal is entertained before it.

Matters such as guardianship and custody matter cases are adjudicated in the courts of Small Causes Courts and such matters are decided in a summary trail which is without a prolonged and large-scale civil trial.

The court of Civil Judge, Senior Civil Judge and Additional District Judges adjudicate ordinary matters that requires a large-scale civil trail which requires proper civil trial subsequent to all the regulations of evidence and procedures contemplated in the civil procedure code.

Types of Jurisdictions

  • Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction

Civil jurisdiction is that which concerns and deals with the disputes of civil nature whereas criminal jurisdiction related to crimes and punish Offenders.

  •  Territorial Jurisdiction

Every Court has its very own territorial limits far away in which it cannot operate its jurisdiction,  these limitations by which are fixed by the government. The District Judge has to operate jurisdiction within his district. The High Court has jurisdiction over the territory of state within which it is situated and not beyond it.

  • Pecuniary Jurisdiction

The code provides that a court will have Jurisdiction only over as the amount or value of the subject matter of which does not extend the pecuniary limits of jurisdiction.  Some courts have unlimited pecuniary to restriction like High courts and District courts have no pecuniary limitations.  But there are other courts having jurisdiction to try shoes up to a particular amount as a Presidency small causes Court cannot attain a suit in which the moon claims exceed thousand rupees.

  •  Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

Original jurisdiction is due restriction in head and tail are conferred upon a court of first instance. In the exercise of that jurisdiction, a court of first instance besides suits petitions are applications.

Appellate jurisdiction is the power or authority conferred upon a Superior Court to reach here by way of appeal, revision etc of causes which have been tried and decided by the courts of Original Jurisdiction. But Munsif courts, Court of civil judges, small causes Court are having original jurisdiction only. District courts, High Court have Original jurisdiction as well as Appellate jurisdiction.

  •  Jurisdiction as to Subject-matter

Different courts have been empowered to decide different type of Suits. Certain codes are precluded from maintaining certain suits. The presidency small causes Court has no jurisdiction to try suits such as specific performance of a contract, partition of immovable property, foreclosure and redemption of a mortgage. Similarly in respect of testamentary matters, divorce cases, probate proceedings, only the District Judge or Civil judge in Senior division has the jurisdiction.

  •  Exclusive and Concurrent Jurisdiction

Exclusive jurisdiction is that which confers solar power on one court or Tribunal to try, deal with and decide a case.  No other Court or authority can render a judgement or give a decision in the case or class of cases.

Concurrent jurisdiction is jurisdiction which may be operated by numerous courts between the same parties to a case, at the same time and within the same subject matter. It is therefore open to a contender to cite jurisdiction of any of such Court.

  •  Expounding and Expanding Jurisdiction

Expanding jurisdiction means to define, clarify and explain jurisdiction. Expanding jurisdiction signifies to enlarge and extend the jurisdiction.

  • Legal and Equitable Jurisdiction

Legal jurisdiction is a jurisdiction exercised by the Common Law courts in England while Equitable jurisdiction is the jurisdiction exercised by Equity courts. Courts in India are both law and equity.

  • General and Special Jurisdiction

General jurisdiction extends to all the cases comprised within a class or classes of causes. Special or limited jurisdiction, on the other hand is jurisdiction which is conferred to special, particular, or limited causes.

Exclusion of Jurisdiction

Exclusions as contained in Section 9 of Code of Civil Procedure is not to be readily inferred.

In the case of MP Electricity board, Jabalpur v. Vijaya Timber Company[3] the rule of construction being that every presumption should be made in favour of the existence rather than the exclusion of the Jurisdiction of the Civil Courts and statutes outstanding the Jurisdiction of Civil Courts must be strictly constructed.

In the case of Abdul Wheed Khan v. Bhawani[4] the issue of burden was held and the burden to prove of the exclusion of Jurisdiction is on the party who so contents.

The question of exclusion has to be determined in the light of works used in the statue at the scheme of its relevant provisions their object and purpose. Each case requires an examination as to whether the statute provides the rights and remedies and with the scheme of the act the process provided will be conclusive.

In the case of Dhulabhai v. State of Madhya Pradesh[5] it was held that:

  • Where a statute gives finality to orders of special tribunals. The Civil courts jurisdiction must be said to be precluded if there is a sufficient resolution to do what the civil courts would generally do in a suit. Such a provision, however, would not disbar those cases where the stipulations of the particular Act have not been in accordance with or the statutory tribunal has not altered in accordance with the primary principles of judicial procedure.
  • Where there is an express bar of Jurisdiction of a court. An examination of the strategy of a particular Act to find the appropriateness or competency of the remedies put forward may be related, but this is not conclusive for sustaining the Jurisdiction of a civil court.
  •  Challenge to the provisions of a particular act as ultra-virus cannot be brought before tribunals constituted under the Act. Even the High Court cannot go into that question or revision or reference from decisions of tribunals.
  •  When a provision is already declared unconstitutional, or constitutionality of any provision is to be challenged, a suit is open.  A Writ of Certiorari may include a direction for refund if the claim is clearly within the time prescribed within the Limitation Act, but it is not a compulsory remedy to replace a suit.
  • Where the particular Act contains no machinery for refund of tax collected in excess of constitutional limits or is illegally Collected a suit lies.
  • Questions of the preciseness of an appraisal apart from its constitutionality are of the outcomes of the judicial authorities and a civil suit does not lie if the orders of the authorities and declared it to be final or if there is an express prohibition in a particular Act. In either case, the scheme of a particular actor must be examined because it is a relevant inquiry.
  • And exclusion of jurisdiction of a civil court is not promptly to be deduced unless the obligations given set down a play.

Section 9 of Code of Civil Procedure

Jurisdiction of Civil Courts in India is dealt with under section 9[6] of the Code of Civil Procedure.  this section states that the court tries all the civil suits unless barred. By the following points we can see whether a Civil Court is competent to try a suit or not:

  • The suit must be of civil nature
  • The cognizance of a civil suit is not expressly or impliedly barred

In a suit of civil nature, the primary question is involving or determining any civil right. The phrase suit of civil nature protects the private rights and as well as the applications of a citizen. But it is not a suit of civil nature with the fundamental question is involving caste or religion. 

Suit of a Civil nature means and includes:

  •  right to property or
  •  right to an office and such rights depend upon the questions as to religious rights or ceremonies.
  •  private rights and obligations of a citizen.

 Examples of Suits of Civil Nature

  •  Suits related to property
  •  Suits related to Civil wrongs
  •  Suits related to breach of contracts
  •  Suit for rights to hereditary officers
  •  Suits involved principally the question of caste upholding where the dignity and honour
  •  Suits related to accounts
  •  Suits related to Trusts
  •  Suits related to matrimonial matters

Examples of Suits that are not of Civil Nature

  • Suits that involve caste questions, purely religious rights
  • Suits that are against public policy
  • In the case of Robust hotels Pvt ltd v. EIH ltd[7] it was held that the Jurisdiction of Civil suit is preliminary in nature unless the same is ouster expressly or by necessary implication and will have jurisdiction to admit all kinds of suits.

Cognizance of Civil Suit should not be Expressly or Impliedly barred

It is said as expressly barred, when a Civil suit is barred by any enactment by the legislature or any Act in force. It is said to be impliedly barred, when a suit is barred by the general principles of law like Justice, equity, and good conscience.

Expressly barred means excluded by any Act for the time being in force. For example- tax matters, rent matters, motor accidents claim industrial claims, election matters, etc.

Impliedly barred means when a suit is barred by general principles of law. For example- Acts have been done by a judge in the course of his duties., etc.

Principles for Determination of Civil Jurisdiction

  • Civil Courts have common Jurisdiction and are capable to seek all the suits of civil kinds except if their Jurisdiction is expressly or impliedly barred
  • Jurisdiction can neither be conferred nor removed by the consent of parties
  • A decree lacking Jurisdiction is Annulled and Void
  • Court has inherent power to decide its own Jurisdiction
  • Jurisdiction depends on claims and allegations made by the Plaintiff and not upon the Defendant in a written statement
  • The presumption will be always in favour of Jurisdiction
  • The ouster of Jurisdiction should not be readily inferred in the absence of any express provision
  • The Burden of proof lies on the party which challenges the Jurisdiction
  • Even where the Jurisdiction of a Civil court is barred, it can decide whether the provisions of an Act have been complied with or whether an order was passed de hors the provisions of law

Dismissal of suit

In the case of Gunwantbhai vs Anton Elis Farel[11] it was held that the Dismissal of suit as barred by Limitation by deciding issue of limitation as preliminary issue is not proper.

Where the High Court while deciding Writ Petition transferred suits and appeals involving similar issues to itself and dismissed the suits on ground that issues raised in them with being examined in writ petitions, without passing any order or application of recall, the procedure adopted by the High Court was not known to law. One of the fundamental norms of Judicial processes is that arguable questions, either legal or factual should not be dismissed without recording a reasoned order.

Further details on Jurisdiction


It is important aspect to know that unless a Suit is civil in nature or which is not barred by either expressly or impliedly, a Civil Jurisdiction cannot entertain it. And the Civil Jurisdiction can inquire whether the Statutory bodies and Quasi-judicial bodies acted within their Jurisdiction. Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code vastly deals with the issues of its Jurisdiction to entertain and consider the matter.

Edited by: Tanvi Mahajan, Publisher, Law Insider


Code of Civil Procedure

Supreme Court Jurisdiction

M.A. Mana Mulla on the Code of Civil Procedure

C.K. Takwani on the Code of Civil Procedure

  1.  Hariday Nath Roy v. Ramchandra AIR 1929 Cal 445
  2.  Official Trustee v. Sachindra Nath 1969 AIR 823
  3. Abdul Wheed Khan v. Bhawani 1966 AIR 1718
  4. Dhulabhai v. State of Madhya Pradesh 1969 AIR 78, 1968 SCR (3) 662
  5. The code of Civil Procedure Section. 9
  6. Robust hotels Pvt ltd v. EIH ltd Civil Appeal Nos. 11886-11887 OF 2016
  7. Gunwantbhai vs Anton Elis Farel AIR 2006 SC 1556

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