What is Jurisdiction?
India is the largest democratic nation in the world and here every citizen has been given certain specific rights for his proper growth and development and if any person breaches the rights of another person then the latter person has inherent right to file a suit against former person and claim compensation from him. But, whenever an aggrieved person decides to file a suit against wrongdoer then one question always arises before him that, “where can he file a suit against the wrongdoer?”
In India, there are large number of courts. Some are lower courts while other are higher courts and the jurisdiction of each and every court has been decided by the legal system and according to the prescribed jurisdiction of a court, an aggrieved party can file a suit in a competent court. But one question again arises here is, “what does the term jurisdiction means?”
The term jurisdiction has been derived from two Latin words i.e. ‘Juris’ and ‘Dicto’ which means ‘I speak by the law’. It means that law has given an authority to the court and because of that authority, the court is entertaining the suit. In our legal system there are various kinds of courts and the jurisdiction of each and every court is not same. It varies from court to court and after determining that the particular court has jurisdiction to try a particular matter in issue then only suit can be filed in that court.
In the leading case of Official Trustee v. Sachindra Nath, AIR 1969 SC 823: (1969) 3 SCR 92, the hon’ble court held that it is not sufficient that the court has jurisdiction to try a suit but its jurisdiction must include the power to hear and decide the question at issue, the authority to hear and decide the particular controversy that has arisen between the parties.
Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, deals with the provisions of jurisdiction of the court.
According to this section, if the right of any person has been violated by any another person then the former person has right to file the suit whereas the court has duty bound to try that suit. If the court has jurisdiction to try the suit and it is duty of court to try the suit. The court cannot deny to try the suit. Section 9 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, deals with the suits of civil nature. This term is different from the term civil suit. Because the term civil suits only include that suits in which legal rights of a person have been violated whereas the term suit of civil nature not only includes that suits in which legal rights of a person have been violated but it includes constitutional rights also. So according to section 9 if any constitutional right of a person has been violated along with legal right then he can file a suit in the court of law.
In the leading case of P.M.A. Metropolitan vs. Moran Mar Marthoma (AIR 1995 (SC) 2001), the supreme court held that, “the expression suit of civil nature is wider than the expression civil suit and it expands the jurisdiction of the Civil Court.”
According to section 9, the court has power to try every suit unless its jurisdiction has been barred by the legislature either expressly or impliedly. If the jurisdiction of the court has been barred by the legislature then in such a case the court will not have jurisdiction to try that particular suit with respect to the jurisdiction of the court has been barred by the legislature.
In the leading case of Dhulabhai vs. State of M.P. (AIR 1969 SC 78), the hon’ble Supreme Court held that, “any provision which expressly bars the jurisdiction of civil court should be construed strictly and every presumption should be made in favour of the jurisdiction of a civil court. Moreover, in this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that, if any suit has been entertained by a tribunal but that tribunal does not follow the procedure laid down by the statute or if that tribunal does not provide the adequate remedy or if the provisions of the statute that provides the jurisdiction to the tribunal held unconstitutional then in such circumstances, the Civil court has authority to entertain the abovesaid matter in issue.”
It is a settled legal provision that jurisdiction of a court has been decided by the government and parties have no control over this matter. All the parties are bound by the decision of the government and they cannot confer or take away the jurisdiction of any court. If a particular court has jurisdiction to decide a controversy then parties are bound to file a suit in that court. They cannot file that suit in another court and if they do so then that court will not entertain the suit for want of jurisdiction.
In the leading case of A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, AIR 1988 SC 1531, the hon’ble court held that the power to create or enlarge jurisdiction is legislative in character. Parliament alone can do it by law.
Moreover, it is the duty of a plaintiff to file the suit in that court which has jurisdiction to decide that particular suit but if any question arises that whether the court has jurisdiction to try the suit then in such a case the court itself has inherent power to decide the question. But if an opposite party pleads that the court has no jurisdiction then in such a case the burden of proof will be upon that party.
Again in the leading case of A.R. Antulay vs. R.S. Nayak [(1988) 2 SCC 602], the Supreme Court held that, “if the question regarding the jurisdiction of court arises in the suit, in such a case the Civil Court has inherent power to decide its own jurisdiction and the burden of proof lies upon that person who wants to oust the jurisdiction of the court and if he fails to prove his burden of proof then it will be deemed that the court has jurisdiction to try the suit.”