Through the medium of this article, I would be critically analyzing the
provisions with respect to jurisdiction covered under Civil Procedure Code of
1908 and how is it affecting the property which are both movable and immovable
in nature. Jurisdiction as a term can be understood both in a general as well as
in a legal context. It acts as a belief which is the underlying principle of any
litigation. Jurisdiction is the doorway for any grievance which allows different
parties to enter the portal of the dispute settlement which subsequently gets
transformed into litigation. The legal maxim, Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium
meaning Wherever there is a right, there is a remedy
has also been
adopted by our Indian legal system which is the fundamental principle of English
law. Jurisdiction is also a power or right guaranteed by the court of law in
order to interpret, hear and determine a cause of action an accordingly pass a
judgment on a matter.
This article exclusively focuses on different types of jurisdiction, its
meaning, importance and other debatable issues with respect to the field of
property and how the provisions of CPC are relevant in todays time with all the
technological advancements which is constantly evolving and growing at a
lightning fast speed.
Jurisdiction the word is derived from Latin terms juris
which means I speak by the law
. As a matter of fact, the term
is always construed as one of the most important terms, yet it
is not defined under any statute. Even the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 which
is the procedural law of India is also silent on it. In other words,
Jurisdiction means the authority or power which a court has in order to decide
upon matters that are litigated before it or issue a decree regarding the same.
It also means the geographical area within which the legal or judicial authority
can be exercised.
In the case of Official Trustee v. Sachindra Nath
, the Supreme court
ruled out that Jurisdiction must not only include the power to hear but also the
authority to hear and decide upon the question at issue presented before it and
accordingly take steps to resolve the particular dispute that has arisen between
the parties. A court having jurisdiction is said to be a competent court and
each country explicitly defines jurisdiction under its legal framework which
indirectly or directly plays an important role for the efficient administration
and effective litigation management.
Therefore, it could be said that Jurisdiction in a nutshell means authority,
power and competency of court to deal with the matters that are placed before it
and in order to exercise jurisdiction the existence of jurisdiction is a
pre-requisite otherwise the decree passed by a court would be construed as null
Jurisdiction can be broadly classified into three main categories:
- Territorial Jurisdiction
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction
- Jurisdiction as to Subject-Matter.
These three categories are the essential aspects for determining jurisdiction
of any court.
There are certain territorial limits which defines each states boundaries.
Therefore, it is the authority or power of the court which can be exercised
within such defined territory in order to deal with cases that are arising
before the Honorable courts or the people residing within such defined territory
is known as Territorial Jurisdiction. These territorial limits are fixed by the
government and therefore, a court situated at a particular place cannot
entertain a case which goes beyond its territorial limits. These rules are
clearly specified and laid down by the legislature. For instance, if an offence
is committed in Rajasthan district than the district judge of Rajasthan must
exercise jurisdiction within the district and not beyond it.
Section 15 of the Code refers to the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court.
Therefore, it directs that every suit must be instituted in the court of the
lowest grade which is competent to try it. The underlying objective of this
provision is to lessen the burden of higher courts with suits and also to
provide convenience to the parties and witnesses who are examined in such suits.
Pecuniary literally means related to money and such jurisdiction of the court is
determined by the plaintiffs valuation in the plaint and not the amount for
which the decree may be passed by the court
A General Illustration:
Let us say the pecuniary jurisdiction of Small
Causes Court is Rs. 30000. Hence, a suit for damages of Rs. 4000 for breach of
contract can be tried by any of the courts but according to Section 15 of the
code, the suit must be filed in the lowest court which is the Small Causes
Court. But even if the suit is filed in the City Civil Court and subsequently a
decree is passed by that court, it would not amount to nullity and this is
irregularity is covered under Section 99 of the code.
If at all the valuation of the plaint is not correct and the plaintiff
deliberately overvalues or undervalues the claim for the purpose of avoiding the
jurisdiction of the proper court, then it is the duty of the court to return the
plaint to be filed in the proper court and may also require the plaintiff to
prove that the valuation is proper.
Jurisdiction as to Subject- Matter:
It connotes authority or power to the court to decide upon the matters on the
basis of its nature. Taking into consideration the variety of issues, different
courts have been empowered to decide upon different types of suits. For
instance, suits related to insolvency matters, probate proceedings, divorce
cases, etc. cannot be adjudicated by a Court of Civil Judge of junior
division. This could be termed as Jurisdiction as to Subject-Matter and where
a court has no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of a suit then a decree or a
judgement passed by the court would amount to a nullity.
Section 16 of the code deals with suits relating to immovable property and these
suits must be filed within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property
is situated. However, the term immovable property is not defined anywhere within
the code but nevertheless a broad definition can be seen under the General
Clauses Act, 1897.
There are following five kinds of suits where Section 16 can be invoked
- Partition of immovable property
- Recovery of immovable property
- Torts to immovable property.
- Determination of any right or interest in the property
- Sale, Foreclosure, Redemption with respect to mortgage or charge upon
In the case of Harshad Chiman Lal Modi vs. DLF Universal Ltd
Supreme court ruled that As per Section 16 of CPC, a suit can be instituted
where the immovable property is situated in this case the property was situated
in Gurgaon (Haryana). Delhi Court, therefore, has no jurisdiction to entertain
the suit. Issues such as the place where the cause of action arose or place
where either party resides are immaterial in nature with respect to such suits.
Also, in the case of Anant Raj Industries Ltd. Vs. Balmer Lawrie and Co. Ltd
the Delhi High court reiterated the same principle as laid down above. In this
case, Mr. X sold a plant which was situated at P to Mr. Y through a sale deed
which was registered at place Q. Consideration was also paid at place Q
for damages to immovable property as X
not remove his goods from the plant. As a result, court held that suit could be
filed at place P instead of Q
, since the property was situated at place
Sections 17, 18, 19, and 20:
As far as Sections 17 and 18 of the code are concerned, they both deal with the
suits relating to immovable property where the property is located within the
jurisdiction of more than one court. It confers powers to both the courts to
have jurisdiction over the matter and accordingly, a suit can be filed in any
one of them. A General Illustration: Suppose X and Y have disputes related to
five properties and all the five properties are not located within the
jurisdiction of any one particular court. But the cause of action is of such a
nature that several suits cannot be instituted therefore, by invoking Section 17
the plaintiff can file a suit in any one court within whose jurisdiction any of
the properties may be situated.
Section 19 of the code deals with suits for compensation for wrong to movables
or person as it has been rightly said that movables follow the person (Mobilia
sequuntur personam). Such suits can be brought at the option of the plaintiff
either where the cause of action took place or where the defendant resides or
carries on business. A General Illustration: X, residing in Mumbai, beats Y
in Delhi. Y may sue X either in Delhi or in Mumbai.
The cause of action
as such is not defined anywhere in the code however,
in the case of Fry L.J. In Read v. Brown it was held that everything which,
if not proved, gives the defendant an immediate right to judgment must be part
of the cause of action. Every piece of evidence which is necessary to prove
each fact does not comprise of the cause of action. Also, in the case of
Ujjal Talukdar v. Netai Chand Koley
 it was laid down that factual
evidence should not be confused with the fact itself. Even the smallest fraction
of a cause of action can be enough to confer jurisdiction on a court within the
territorial limits of where it occurs
Section 20 of the code deals with respect to such suits which are not covered by
the aforementioned sections. Following are the circumstances where the plaintiff
can exercise his option of filing a suit in any of the respective courts where:
Cause of action arises wholly or partly.
Defendant resides, carries his business or personally works for gain.
Where there are co-defendants and any of them resides, carries on business or
personally works for gain, provided that in such case (a) either the leave of
the court is given or (b) defendants does not reside, carries on business or
personally works for gain at that place acquiesce in such institution.
A General Illustration to explain the section: X is a tradesman in Mumbai, Y
carries on business in Delhi. Y, by his agent in Mumbai, buys goods of X and
told X to deliver the same at East Indian Railway Company and X delivers the
same. Here, X may sue Y for the price of the goods either in Mumbai, where the
cause of action arose or in Delhi, where Y carries on his business.
Cyber Jurisdiction and Case Laws:
As we know, the most crucial question that is posed in any court of law is that
of Jurisdiction. Until and unless the courts have jurisdiction neither the
matter would be proceeded in the court of law nor the court would have authority
to decide upon any rights and liabilities or impose any kind of penalty. With
the advent of internet, the scope of criminal activities in cyber space has also
Although the advanced technologies ensure the government-citizen interface is
incorruptible, but the essential nature of the internet is that it has no
boundaries, and this poses a serious threat when it comes to the issue of
jurisdiction. The underlying problem of cyber law jurisdiction is the presence
of various parties around the globe who are virtually connected to each other.
As a result, not only the place of suing becomes a problem but also what kind of
remedies are available to the individual?
The Supreme Court in the case of SIL Import v. Exim Aides Silk Importers
rightly pointed out that interpretation of the statute is necessary by judiciary
in the light of technological advancements and until there is a legislation
passed with respect to the jurisdiction of the courts with regard to internet
disputes till then, the Courts have to give a wide interpretation to the
existing statutes for such disputes. However, the suits arising out of the
internet disputes are mostly with respect to the issue of Territorial
Jurisdiction as Internet does not tend to have any geographical or
Also, one of the landmark cases such as Banyan Tree Holding (P) Limited v. A.
Murali Krishna Reddy
 was discussed which was referred to the Division
Bench in order to resolve the issue of Jurisdiction. The facts of the case were
related to copyright infringement and both the plaintiff and the defendant were
not residing within their territorial jurisdiction of the court. Therefore,
while writing down the judgement the division bench also referred to two cases
which were important in this aspect.
First, Casio India Co. Limited v. Ashita Tele Systems Pvt. Limited
where the division bench of Delhi High Court completely disregarded the
principle laid down by this case and said that merely accessing a website from a
location would not be a valid test to resolve the issue of jurisdiction and
hence, should not be applicable.
Second, India TV Independent News Service Pvt. Limited v. India Broadcast Live
Llc And Ors. where the division bench supported the test of interactivity to
resolve the issue of jurisdiction as laid down by the case and even if there was
a high degree of interactivity involved then the location of the defendant would
be irrelevant, and jurisdiction would occur in that location.
In addition to this, the Division Bench also decided to put forth the test of
intention to conclude the transaction
to resolve the issue of jurisdiction
and this judgement is followed till date with respect to copyright infringement.
The Division Bench said, merely having an interactive website was not sufficient
to make the defendant amenable to the jurisdiction of the forum court. Applying
the principle of intentional targeting, it was held that the plaintiff had to
show the intention of the defendant to conclude a commercial transaction with
the website user.
Prestige Developers v Prestige Estates Projects Pvt. Ltd
 was a case
that involved a passing off action initiated by Prestige Estates against
Prestige Property Developers. Banyan Tree was used by the Karnataka HC in this
case. The Judge noticed that the defendants construction activity was
exclusively conducted in Kerala.
The sale would not take place in Bangalore so that it could make a part of the
cause of action in terms passing off. Even if the defendants wanted to pass off
their property depending on the reputation of the plaintiff as alleged, it would
only take place in Kerala. The activity of providing services was exclusively in
Tamil Nadu, in case of the other defendant.
The court held that the test of concluding a commercial transaction should be
shown, to establish the level of activity indulged in by the defendants by the
use of the website. The single judge, stating that the test was not
satisfied by the plaintiff, held that the court at Bangalore would lack
Critique and Conclusion:
Through the above-mentioned cases I am of the opinion and would like to critique
that the existing rules or provisions covered under the Code of Civil Procedure,
1908 are not conclusive in nature when it comes to online transactions. It is
high time that the Parliament should take steps for the implementation of
specific legislation in future in order to deal with the disputes of
Jurisdiction which would arise via online transactions.
The traditional ways seemed to be ineffective and clearly violates Section 20
and other such provisions as revealed by the cases mentioned above where the
defendants reside, or cause of action arose becomes irrelevant and is replaced
by tests such as interactivity and concluding a commercial transaction. So far,
all the different kinds of jurisdiction connote power or authority to the courts
to deal with the cases falling within the jurisdiction with respect to both
movable and immovable property as mentioned under the Code.
If the matter is not within the said jurisdiction then the courts are not
competent to try and adjudicate upon the same and despite that if decree or
judgement is passed, then it would be construed as null and void. However,
Section 13 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 helps in tackling with the
problem of jurisdiction in cyberspace. It deals with the location of dispatch,
time, and receipt of electronic record.
Even though Section 13 of the IT Act, 2000 has an overriding effect on CPC and
CrPC, it would not be of much advantage as otherwise also, the general
principles of jurisdiction and the courts under CPC and CrPC are empowered to
adjudicate upon the matters at the place of the business of the person.
As discussed earlier, the traditional rules and regulations as stated under the
Code with respect to jurisdiction would still be governed by the respective
states but the same would not be applicable to cyber space. The cyber space
needs to be acknowledged as a separate jurisdiction because neither the
individual state nor the rules governing the online transactions could be
effective in tracing the locality because there are no geographical boundaries
when it comes to Internet.
Here, are some of the suggestions which could be taken into consideration while
tackling with the problem of jurisdiction:
Formation of an independent body which acts as dispute resolution forum for
people who are from different parts of the world to resolve the issue of cyber
India being a signatory to the convention of cyber crimes which was adopted by
the council of Europe in 2001. It deals with the violation of law over the
internet and other information technology related issues.
Enforcement of Foreign Judgements in Indian courts which would at least act as
At the end, I would like to conclude by saying that since the Modi Government is
promoting digitalization in order to ensure transparency it would be important
on the contrary to establish an effective structure with respect to Indian legal
framework so that the issues relating to jurisdiction especially when we are
dealing with online transactions could be resolved at the earliest otherwise, it
would continue to threaten the sovereignty of the state.
Written By: Anirudh Agarwal
- C.K. Takwani, Civil Procedure (8th edn, Eastern Book Company 2017) 40.
- AIR 1969 SC 823.
- C.K. Takwani, Civil Procedure (8th edn, Eastern Book Company 2017) 141.
- C.K. Takwani, Civil Procedure (8th edn, Eastern Book Company 2017) 142.
- C.K. Takwani, Civil Procedure (8th edn, Eastern Book Company 2017) 145.
- AIR 2005 SC 4446.
- AIR 2003 Delhi 367.
- Saba,'s. 17 CPC envisages a suit being instituted in one of the several
courts within whose jurisdiction properties may be situated (SCC, 12
February 2018) < https://blog.scconline.com/post/tag/section-17-cpc/>
accessed on 20th July, 2020.
- C.K. Takwani, Civil Procedure (8th edn, Eastern Book Company 2017) 143.
- (1888) 22 QB 128.
- AIR 1969 Calcutta 224.
- C.K. Takwani, Civil Procedure (8th edn, Eastern Book Company 2017) 144.
- (1999) 4 SCC 567.
- Banyan Tree Holding (P) Limited v. A. Murali Krishna Reddy, CS (OS) No.
- 106 (2003) DLT 554.
- 2007 (35) PTC 177 Del.
- Supra note 11.
- MFA 4954 & 13696/2006 (High Court of Karnataka, 2nd December 2009)
- Final Year Law Student, B.A. LL. B - O.P.
Jindal Global University
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