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Meaning of Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is defined as the limit of judicial authority or the extent to which a court of law can exercise its authority over suits, cases, appeals etc.

In Hriday Nath Roy Vs Ram Chandra (1921), the Calcutta High Court sought to explain the meaning of the term 'Jurisdiction' in detail.

The power to hear and determine the issues of law and the fact or 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 determine the subject matter in the dispute among the parties to a suit and to adjudicate.

Any judicial power over them or the ability to hear, determine and declare judgement on issues before the court or the power or authority which is given to a court by the government to understand and learn causes between parties and to give a judgement into the effect or the power to enquire into the facts to apply the law to pronounce the Judgement and put it into execution.

Lack of Jurisdiction and Irregular Exercise of Jurisdiction
Whenever the suit is made before the court the initial issue is to decide whether the court has jurisdiction to deal with the matter.
If the court has all the three territorial, pecuniary or subject matter jurisdictions then simply the court has the power to deal with any of the cases.
If the court does not have any jurisdiction then it will be recognised as a lack of jurisdiction and irregular exercise of jurisdiction.
When the court does not have jurisdiction to decide the case then such decision will be regarded as void or voidable depending upon the circumstances.

The basis to determine jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is determined mainly on the grounds of:
  • Pecuniary value
  • Geographical boundaries of a court/ Territorial
  • The subject matter of court.

Kinds of Jurisdiction
  • Territorial or local jurisdiction
  • Pecuniary jurisdiction
  • Jurisdiction as to the subject matter
  • Original and appellate jurisdiction
  • Exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction
  • General and special jurisdiction
  • Legal and equitable jurisdiction
  • Expounding and expanding jurisdiction

Section 9 of CPC
Section 9 of the Code of Civil procedure deals with the jurisdiction of civil courts in India. It declares that the court shall have jurisdiction to try all lawsuits of civil nature accepting suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred.

A Civil court has jurisdiction to decide a suit if two requirements are fulfilled:
  • The suit must be of a civil nature.
  • The cognizance of such a suit should not have been expressly or impliedly barred.

Civil Suit
Section 9 of the CPC reads "Courts to try all civil suits unless barred- The Court shall (subject to the provisions herein contained) have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred.

Explanation 1: A suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies.

Explanation II: For the purposes of this section, it is immaterial whether or not any fees are attached to the office referred to in Explanation I or whether or not such office is attached to a particular place."

Suit Of Civil Nature
  1. Ubi jus ibi remedium
  2. Jurisdiction - the power or authority of a court of law to hear and determine a cause of a matter.
  3. Jurisdiction and consent ( A.R. Antulay v. R.S.Nayak, 1988) - legislative character

  • Meaning Civil and Nature
  • Nature and scope- Private rights and obligations of a citizen
  • Principal question - related question
  • Doctrine explained- PMA Metropolitan v. Moran Mar Marthoma, AIR 1995
  • Test- Right to property or office is contested.

Illustrations: Rights of property, dissolution of marriages, restitution of conjugal rights, suits for rents, specific reliefs, damages for civil wrongs, against wrongful dismissals from service and for salaries, etc.( Suits of civil nature)

Suits not of civil nature- involving principally caste questions, purely religious rites or ceremonies.

Cognizance not barred
  • Suits barred expressly
    • Barred by enactment
    • Competent legislature to bar the jurisdiction of civil courts
    • But presumption should be made in favour of the jurisdiction of civil court
    • No adequate remedy in another statute then jurisdiction cannot be barred.
  • Suits barred impliedly
    • When barred by general principles of law
    • when a specific remedy is given, deprives the person of any other remedy
    • Public policy
  • Who may decide?
    Civil court has inherent power to decide its own jurisdiction
  • Presumption as to jurisdiction
    In favour of the jurisdiction of a civil court
  • Burden of Proof
    Party who seeks to oust the jurisdiction of a civil court to establish it

Exclusion of jurisdiction of the civil court:
  • Dhulabhai v. State of M.P, AIR 1969
  • Premier Automobiles v. Kamlekar Shantaram, AIR 1976
  • Rajasthan SRTC v. Krishna Kant, AIR 1995

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