This Article is written by SALONI GAUTAM from JIMS School of Law
Whenever there is any matter going before the courts, there are two main questions that are always taken into consideration by the courts: 1. The question concerning any law or fact, 2. Competence.
When we talk of the question of law or fact, this can be addressed as the base of the dispute which has arisen. An example of the same can be – In a contract of sale if the buyer delays the payment and seller moves to the court then the cause of action becomes the non-payment by the buyer and question of the law becomes the right of the seller of getting paid and infringement of the same.
When we talk of competence, it can be further divided into 2 parts i.e. 1. Competence of the parties, 2. Competence of the court. The competence of the parties is subject to the provisions of the Acts through which it is going to be governed such, as provided in the Consumer Protection Act that who can be the complainant.
Other than the competence of parties, the competence of the court is also checked. There are various parameters for determining the competence of the court. One important parameter among these parameters can be identified as Jurisdiction of the Court. We will be discussing this in detail. But before going into the matter of jurisdiction, we should have a fair idea of the hierarchy of the courts which can be understood by the two figures shown below respectively.
It is to be noted that in the disposal of civil matters, there are various quasi-judicial bodies who work for reducing the burden of the judiciary and these are governed through their respective Acts. Other than the quasi-judicial bodies, the courts function to settle the disputes in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The criminal courts are also governed through the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Both these Codes provide for the complete procedure to be adopted in the courts and what all measures are required for a fair decision of matters.
DEFINITION OF JURISDICTION
In the definition given on Encyclopaedia Brit, Jurisdiction, in law, the authority of a court to hear and determine cases.1In other words, the Jurisdiction can be defined as the power of the court and also the limitation of the court to try a matter.
TYPES OF JURISDICTION
Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 states that all the matters of civil nature shall be tried by the courts. In the same manner, under Section 4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states that matters concerning IPC, All offenses under any other law shall be investigated, inquired into, tried, and otherwise dealt with according to the procedure given in Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. While looking into the statutes the jurisdiction can be divided into four major types as given below:
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION – The original jurisdiction is the power of the court to take cognizance of the matter in the first instance. Section 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 states the subordination of the Courts in Civil matters. Under section 26 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as well as under Section 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 the hierarchy and the limit of accessing the jurisdiction have been made clear as these section talk about the cases to be filed before the court of lowest grade having the competence to try that matter.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION – The appellate jurisdiction can be stated as the power of the superior court to the court which has given the judgment against which the Appeal preferred. In part VII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 as well as in Chapter XXIX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 talk about the Appeals in the Civil and Criminal Cases respectively.
EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION – Exclusive jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to adjudicate a case to the exclusion of all other courts. It is the sole forum for the determination of a particular type of case.2 This type of jurisdiction is generally observed in the civil matters where the Tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies exclude the Courts to take the cognizance of such matters. Such matters can be understood as Real Estate related matters, Consumer Disputes, etc. The Supreme Court too enjoys exclusive original jurisdiction which extends to
- any dispute between the Government of India and one or more States or between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other or between two or more States, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.
- Article 32 of the Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcement of Fundamental Rights. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo Warranto, and Certiorari to enforce them.
ADVISORY JURISDICTION – This can be also stated as the consultative jurisdiction which in the Constitution of India, has been directly vested in the Supreme Court via Article 143 that the Supreme court can advise the President whenever the advice is asked by the president but this cannot be said to be the only advisory jurisdiction. The High Courts can also offer advice on matters of law/constitution in case the State government or the Governor so desires.
ELEMENTS FOR DETERMINATION OF JURISDICTION
The general elements for filing a civil suit and criminal FIR or complaint can be determined as given below.
- PLACE OF CAUSE OF ACTION/ PLACE WHERE CRIME WAS COMMITTED – Cause of action denotes the reason or action due to which the matter has been taken to the court of law. The cause of action is found in civil matters and is one of the important elements for the determination of the jurisdiction of the civil matter other than the matters concerning immovable property.
In a similar manner, in criminal cases, the FIR or complaint of the crime is preferred to be filed in the nearest police station having control over that area. This is done for a simple reason as to for the convenience of the investigation and collection of the pieces of evidence etc.
- PLACE OF RESIDENCE – In case, the plaintiff cannot file the suit in the territory of the place of cause of action, then he may file a case at the place where the defendant resides or carries out his business. In the case of multiple defendants, the suit can be filed at any of the places where any of the defendants is residing with the permission of other defendants.
In the criminal cases, the complainant can lodge the FIR or complaint at the place where the crime has been committed or in any other areas by the way of Zero FIR in case of not knowing the actual place of the crime.
- PECUNIARY LIMIT OF THE COURT – In civil matters, the involvement of the amount of money plays a very important role in the determination of the jurisdiction of the courts. The courts cannot try matters exceeding the pecuniary limit of such court although the limit has not been defined in the code itself but has been left on the discretion of the state governments. The states may provide pecuniary limits over the courts as done in various states including Delhi, or the states may not provide any pecuniary limit as done in states such as Uttar Pradesh.
- LIMIT AS TO PROVIDING PUNISHMENT – In criminal cases, the ultimate aim of the prosecution is to ensure adequate punishment for the crime. In the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the limit for providing the punishment for each level of the courts. The limit for each court has been given in Sections 283 and 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
TIME – BARRED MATTERS – In the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, a restriction as to time is given in section 9, which states that “courts shall try all the civil matters unless barred”. Here, the word barred has represented majorly 2 things i.e. bar as to jurisdiction and bar as to the time of filing the matter.
Similarly, in criminal matters, the court does not generally accept the matters which are raised after a considerable amount of time because of the simple reason for the investigation not being possible in such matters in a full and fair manner.
HOW CAN CIVIL COURTS USE THE POWERS CONFERRED TO THE CRIMINAL COURTS
If we talk in a general view, no civil court can use the power conferred in the criminal courts but there are various exceptions to it. When we see the civil courts ordering for the arrest of any person etc. then we do wonder that if the civil courts are not entitled to using such powers, then how are they penalizing people.
The query is genuine but the answer to it is also very simple. The civil courts have the power to order necessary steps for execution of the decree passed by them. The modes of execution can be seen below:
As we can see that the civil courts are entitled to issue arrest, detention, or any other adequate measure which they deem necessary for the execution of the decree, and hence, the civil courts can use the powers of criminal courts to some extent.
After reading all this, it can be concluded that the court system in any country is a very important part of the judicial system in order to provide justice. Usually, any dispute between any parties goes to court with the hope that there they will be heard and will be provided with justice.
Approaching court for claiming the right or raising voice against the crimes but if the court which has been approached is not the right one or doesn’t hold any power to act in such a matter then such court will ask to approach the court of right jurisdiction in order to get the matter solved.
- Sentences which High Courts and Sessions Judges may pass.—(1) A High Court may pass any sentence authorized by law. (2) A Sessions Judge or Additional Sessions Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law; but any sentence of death passed by any such Judge shall be subject to confirmation by the High Court. (3)An Assistant Sessions Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law except a sentence of death or of imprisonment for life or of imprisonment for a term exceeding ten years.
- Sentences which Magistrates may pass. — (1) The Court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate may pass any sentence authorized by law except a sentence of death or of imprisonment for life or of imprisonment for a term exceeding seven years. (2) The Court of a Magistrate of the first class may pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or of fine not exceeding 1 [ten thousand rupees], or of both. (3)The Court of Magistrate of the second class may pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or of fine not exceeding 2 [five thousand rupees], or of both. (4) The Court of a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate shall have the powers of the Court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate and that of a Metropolitan Magistrate, the powers of the Court of a Magistrate of the first class.