Code of Civil Procedure, 1908: Place of Suing

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Introduction

“Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium” which illustrates that where there is right there is a remedy.

A basic principle of the English law that has been adopted and made into the force by the Indian law. It implies that whenever a person’s personal rights have been violated or impeded or the person is prevented by the others from accessing the rights so pledged to him, some judicial tribunal must have the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the dispute and, as per the case, the rights so pledged should be reinstated or compensated. In order to recover the rights or claim damages or impairment sustained, the individual must approach the appropriate forum that does have the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter and grant the remedy requested. So, to deal with that matter, the forum should have jurisdiction. Jurisdiction typically indicates the jurisdiction or authority of the court of law to hear and evaluate a cause or an issue. In other phrases, jurisdiction implies the authority that a court should decide the matter before it or take cognizance of the matters submitted for its judgment in a formal manner.

“That before a court can indeed be held to only have jurisdiction to determine a particular issue it not only must have jurisdiction to try the suit brought but also must have the authority to implement the order pursued for.

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction may be classified as the threshold of a judicial authority or the degree to which a court of law may take precedence over proceedings, lawsuits, appeals, etc.

According to Black Law’s dictionary, Jurisdiction means; “The competence of the court to decide on a dispute or issue a decree.”

In the “Hriday Nath Roy v. Ram Chandra” case, A Calcutta High Court judgement in 1921 sought to interpret the comprehension of the term ‘jurisdiction in meticulous detail.’ The Bench specified;

“A study of the cases in the books reveals several attempts to clarify the word ‘jurisdiction,’ defined as ‘the capacity to investigate and analyze substantive and procedural issues;’ the authority under which three judicial officers interpret and decide the purpose;’ the ability to hear and settle a legal dispute; The ability to hear and evaluate the subject-matter of the dispute between the parties to a lawsuit and to adjudicate or exercise certain judicial authority over them;’ the authority to hear, decide and impose a judgement on the issues before the Court;’ the authority or authority conferred on a Court by the Legislature to recognize and enforce cases between the parties and to make the judgments essential.”

Kind of Jurisdiction and place of suing (Sec 15-20)

Basically, there are three different types of jurisdictions on the grounds of which the place of prosecution may be established. These are,

  1. Pecuniary Jurisdiction
  2. Territorial Jurisdiction
  3. Subject-matter Jurisdiction

If the matter posted before the court by the litigant for proceedings, and the court has all of these (pecuniary, territorial and Subject-Matter) jurisdiction, only then that tribunal can prosecute the litigants’ disputes so presented. In the event that the court does not have any of the jurisdiction alluded to above and proceeds to try the suit, depending on the circumstances, it can either be considered an irregular exercise of jurisdiction or a lack of jurisdiction that could make the judgement invalid or voidable. 

Pecuniary Jurisdiction – Section 15

Pecuniary indicates ‘money-related’. Pecuniary jurisdiction seeks to decide whether a court of law can pursue the monetary value/amount of the case or complaint in dispute in cases and lawsuits. The code requires the case to be analyzed until the value of the suit reaches the court’s financial cap.

Now, the main question is, who should ascertain the valuation of the suit for the purpose of assessing the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court. In particular, it is the valuation done by the plaintiff is presumed for the purpose of assessing the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court, unless the court since the very face of the suit find it erroneous. Therefore, if the court determines that the evaluation performed by the plaintiff is not reliable, that is either undervalued or overvalued, the court will conduct the assessment and guide the party to approach the appropriate venue.

So, prima facie, it really is the valuation of the plaintiff in the complaint that decides the court’s jurisdiction and not the amount for which a decree may eventually be issued. Therefore, if the lowest grade court’s pecuniary jurisdiction is, assume, Rs.10, 000/- and the plaintiff filed a lawsuit for accounts wherein the plaintiff’s valuation of the suit it is within the court’s pecuniary jurisdiction, but the latter court finds that Rs.15, 000/- is due on taking the transactions, the court is not stripped of all its jurisdiction to pass a ruling for that sum.

Usually, in the lawsuit, a court may recognize a valuation of the plaintiff and proceed to determine the dispute on the merits on that basis, but that does not guarantee that the plaintiff is free to attach any arbitrary value to the complaint in all cases and to choose the court in which he wishes to file the complaint.

If it indicates to the court that, in order to escape the jurisdiction of the proper court, the valuation is wrongly rendered in the complaint, the court may require the plaintiff to show that the assessment is legitimate.

Case Law:

Kiran Singh and Others vs Chaman Paswan and Others (1954 AIR 340, 1955 SCR 117)

In the subordinate court, the plaintiff filed a petition comprising an amount of Rs 2950, but the court refused the lawsuit. Later, the High Court permitted his next appeal, but it directed him to pay the full amount of the deficit. The appellant challenged the dereliction of the district court’s ruling, but the High Court discarded the lawsuit. The Supreme Court later upheld the High Court’s decision to declare that the district court’s decision would not have been void.

Territorial Jurisdiction – Section 16-20

The geographical limits of a court’s authority are clearly demarcated and defined within this territorial or local jurisdiction. Beyond that geographical/territorial cap, it does not exercise authority. For instance, if a certain crime is committed in Madhya Pradesh, the case can be heard and resolved only by the courts of law within the boundaries of Madhya Pradesh.

Section – 16: Subject to the pecuniary or other restrictions prescribed by any statute, suits—suits to be initiated where the subject-matter bundles

(a) For the recovery of real estate both with and without rent or benefit,

(b) In respect of an immovable property division,

(c) For foreclosure, sale or reimbursement in the case of an immovable property mortgage or fee,

(d) For every other right to or interest in immovable property to be determined,

(e) For remuneration for immovable property misconduct,

(f) For the retrieval of movable property allegedly under distraction or intrusion, within the local limits within which jurisdiction the property is situated, the Court shall establish:

Provided that a lawsuit to obtain relief respecting, or compensation for, immovable property maintained by or on behalf of the respondent, may be instituted in either the Court inside the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situated, where the relief pursued can be fully obtained through his personal subservience, Or within the territorial limits in which jurisdiction the defendant currently and willingly lives, or carries on business, or operates for profit directly, in the Case.

Section – 17: Immovable property suits fall under the jurisdiction of multiple courts.

Where a lawsuit seeks relief from, or reimbursement for, immovable property situated within the jurisdiction of a separate Court, the lawsuit can be brought to any Court within the local limits of the jurisdiction of which any proportion of the property is stationed:

Provided that, as regards the importance of the subject-matter of the suit, the Court is aware of the entire allegation.

Case Law:

Harshad Chiman Lal Modi vs Dlf Universal & Anr (Appeal (civil) 2726 of 2000)

Section 16 was interpreted by the court as implying that the immovable property claim should be brought before the court. The court does not even have the authority to assess the rights of properties that are not located. However, if the opposing party agrees to try the suit in such a situation, the court will still pass a remedy.

Subject – Matter Jurisdiction

The subject matter can be portrayed as a court’s authority to comprehend and try cases relating to a particular category of subject matter. This implies, in other words, that some courts are prohibited from hearing cases of a certain essence.

Different courts were empowered to determine various types of lawsuits. There is no jurisdiction for certain courts to attract certain suits. For instance, a Court of Civil Judge cannot accommodate testamentary succession, divorce cases, probate proceedings, insolvency matters, etc. (Junior Division). In terms of subject matter, this is labelled jurisdiction.

Objection as to Jurisdiction – Section 21

  1. No challenge as to the position of proceedings shall be raised by any appeal or by the Revisional Court until such objection has been raised at the earliest opportunity by the Court of First Instance and in all cases where, at or before such settlement, proceedings have been raised or resolved and unless there has been a corresponding miscarriage of justice.
  2. No objection as to the jurisdiction of a Court of Appeal with respect to the pecuniary limits of its jurisdiction shall be presented by any Appellate or Revisional Court until such objection has been posed at the earliest possible opportunity in the Court of First Instance, except in all cases where matters have been concluded, at or before such conclusion, and unless there has been a corresponding miscarriage of justice.
  3. Any Appellate or Revisional Court shall not raise an exception as to the legitimacy of the executing Court with respect to the local limits of its jurisdiction, until such an opposition has been raised as early as possible by the executing Court and unless there has been a corresponding failure of justice.

It is a simple law that nullity is a decree of a tribunal without jurisdiction. Halsbury stated rightly;

“Where a court is without jurisdiction to take any particular action or substance because of some kind of restrictions imposed by the statute, charter or commission, although neither acquiesce nor even the express approval of the parties may bestow jurisdiction on the court or it may consent to the jurisdiction of the court if a requirement that lines the inner surface of the jurisdiction has not been accomplished or achieved.”

Case Law:Kiran Singh V. Chaman Paswan, (AIR 1954 SC 340)

This does not refer, however, to territorial or monetary authority. Where an error in the exercise of jurisdiction with regard to pecuniary or territorial jurisdiction is committed by the court, the judgement so rendered shall not be invalid and shall be treated as an irregular exercise of jurisdiction. No doubt, the party has the right to raise the question, but the same cannot be raised at all at the appeal stage at the earliest possible time and until the court has continued with the case and issued the decision. As observed in this particular case.

Case Law:Kiran Singh V. Chaman Paswan, (AIR 1954 SC 340)

This does not refer, however, to territorial or monetary authority. Where an error in the exercise of jurisdiction with regard to pecuniary or territorial jurisdiction is committed by the court, the judgement so rendered shall not be invalid and shall be treated as an irregular exercise of jurisdiction. No doubt, the party has the right to raise the question, but the same cannot be raised at all at the appeal stage at the earliest possible time and until the court has continued with the case and issued the decision. As observed in this particular case.

Conclusion

The notion of the place of suing is very essential as it helps to establish the jurisdiction of each court. This allows the plaintiff to file a complaint. It saves the court’s time in deciding the court’s jurisdiction. The civil court is competent to investigate whether the court and quasi-judicial or legal executive bodies have acted within their jurisdiction. It can be presumed that section 9 deals essentially with the problem of the jurisdiction of the civil court to consider a matter. The civil court has jurisdiction to consider a civil lawsuit, except where the notification is explicitly prohibited or banned by substantial action.

Author : Avnip Sharma

Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Editor, LexLife India.

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