The word jurisdiction is derived from the Latin terms “juris” and “dicto” which means “I speak by the law”.
In simple words jurisdiction can be defined as the limit of judicial authority or the extent to which a court of law can exercise its authority over suits, cases, appeals and other proceedings.
Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 confers jurisdiction over the Civil Courts to adjudicate upon all suits of civil nature except such suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred.
Jurisdiction and Consent
It is well-settled that consent cannot confer nor take away jurisdiction of a court. If the court has no inherent jurisdiction, neither acquiescence nor waiver nor estoppel can create it. A defect jurisdiction goes to the root of the matter and strikes at the authority of a court to pass a decree. Such as a basic and fundamental defect cannot be cured by consent of parties and the judgment or order passed by a court, however, precisely certain and technically correct is null and void and the validity thereof can be challenged at any stage.
Lack of Jurisdiction and Irregular exercise of jurisdiction
There is always a distinction between want of jurisdiction and irregular exercise of it. Once it is held that a court has jurisdiction to entertain and decide a matter, the correctness of the decision given cannot be said to be without jurisdiction inasmuch as the power to decide necessarily carries with it the power to decide wrongly as well as rightly.
What is the distinction between absence of jurisdiction and erroneous or irregular exercise
After the landmark decision in “ Anisminic Ltd vs. Foreign Compensation Commission”,
the legal position is considerably changed. It virtually assimilated the distinction between lack of jurisdiction and erroneous exercise thereof. As observed in
“M.L Sethi vs. R.K Kapur”, the difference between jurisdictional error and error of law within jurisdiction has been reduced almost to a vanishing point.
The jurisdiction of a court, tribunal or authority may depend upon fulfillment of certain conditions or upon existence of a particular fact. This is called “jurisdictional fact”. The existence of such a preliminary or collateral fact is a sine qua non or a condition precedent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the authority. If it exists, the authority has the jurisdiction and it can act. If it doesn’t exist, there is no jurisdiction and the authority cannot act. If the authority wrongly assumes existences of such fact, a writ of certiorari can be issued.
Kinds of Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction of a court may be classified under the following categories:
i. Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction-
Civil jurisdiction is that which concerns and deals with disputes of a “civil nature”. Criminal Jurisdiction on the other hand, relates to crimes and punishes offenders.
ii. Territorial or local Jurisdiction-
Every court has its own local territorial limits beyond which it cannot exercise its jurisdiction and these limits are fixed by the government. For instance, the district judge has to exercise jurisdiction within his district and not outside it.
iii. Pecuniary Jurisdiction-
The Court will have jurisdiction only over those matters where the amount or value of those suits does not exceed the pecuniary limits of its jurisdiction.
iv. Jurisdiction as to subject matter-
Different courts have been empowered to decide different types of suits. It is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter.
For instance, family court has the authority to only hear family matters.
v. Original Jurisdiction-
Original Jurisdiction of a court is the power of a court to hear first or a court of first instance.
Appellate Jurisdiction is the power or authority conferred upon a superior court to rehear by way of appeal, revision, etc., which have already been decided by courts of original jurisdiction.
vi. Exclusive and Concurrent Jurisdiction
The sole power on one court to deal with a case is exclusive jurisdiction.
Concurrent jurisdiction is the jurisdiction which may be exercised by different courts or authorities between the same parties at the same time and over the same subject matter.
vii. General & Special Jurisdiction
A court of general jurisdiction has the authority to gear cases of all kinds.
Special Jurisdiction where the jurisdiction is confined to special or limited causes.
viii. Legal & Equitable Jurisdiction
The jurisdiction exercised by common law courts in England are known as legal jurisdiction.
Whereas the jurisdiction exercised by equity courts is equitable jurisdiction.
ix. Municipal & Foreign Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction exercised by municipal courts in municipal jurisdiction
Foreign jurisdiction means jurisdiction exercised by a court in a foreign country.
x. Expounding and Expanding Jurisdiction
Expanding Jurisdiction means to expand, enlarge or extend the jurisdiction.
Expounding Jurisdiction mean to explain, define & clarify jurisdiction.
From various decisions of the Supreme Court, the following general principles relating to jurisdiction of a civil court emerge:
1) A civil court has jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature unless their cognizance is barred
either expressly or impliedly.
2) Consent can neither confer nor take away jurisdiction of a court.
3) A degree passed by a court without jurisdiction is a nullity and the validity thereof can be
challenged at any stage of the proceedings, in execution proceedings or even in collateral
4) There is a distinction between want of jurisdiction and irregular exercise thereof.
5) Every court has inherent power to decide the question of its own jurisdiction.
6) Jurisdiction of a court depends upon the averments made in a plaint and not upon the defence in a written statement.
7) For deciding jurisdiction of a court, the substance of matter and not its form is important.
8) Every presumption should be made in favour of jurisdiction of a civil court.
9) A statute ousting jurisdiction of a court must be strictly construed.
10) Burden of proof of exclusion of jurisdiction of a court is on the party who asserts it.
Jurisdiction can be defined as the power and authority of a civil court to hear and determine a Cause of Action. It is a creation of law. Section 9 at the threshold of the Civil Procedure Code (C.P.C.) primarily deals with the question of civil court’s jurisdiction to entertain a cause