Types of Jurisdiction

The term ‘jurisdiction’ is not defined in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The word is derived from the Latin terms ‘juris’ and ‘dicto’ which means “I speak by the law”. Jurisdiction is always granted by the Legislature but the power to determine the jurisdiction vests in the superior Courts. Two meanings of jurisdiction can be analysed :

(i) The authority or power of a court to entertain and decide on any judicial proceeding,

(ii) The area over which the power of a court extends.

By jurisdiction is meant authority by which a Court has to decide matters that are litigated before it, or to take cognizance of matters presented in a formal way for its decisions. The limits of this authority are imposed by Statute or Charters or Commissions under which the Court is instituted and may be extended or restricted by similar means. If no restriction or limitation is imposed, the jurisdiction is said to be unlimited. A limitation may be either as to the kind or nature of the actions or the matters of which a particular Court has cognizance or as to the area over which the jurisdiction extends, or it may partake of both these characteristics. 

TYPES OF JURISDICTION

Jurisdiction of a Court may be classified under the following categories :

Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction: Civil jurisdiction is that which concerns and deals with disputes of ‘civil nature’. Criminal Jurisdiction on the other hand relates to crimes and punishments of offenders, etc.

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Territorial or Local Jurisdiction: Every court has its own local or territorial limits beyond which it cannot exercise its jurisdiction. These limits are fixed by the Government. For example, a learned District Judge has to exercise jurisdiction within his district. Again, a court has no jurisdiction to try a suit for immoveable property situated beyond its local limits.

Pecuniary jurisdiction: The Civil Procedure Code, 1908 provides that a court will have jurisdiction only over those suits the amount or value of the subject-matter of which does not exceed the pecuniary limits of its jurisdiction. Some courts have unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction, e.g., High Courts and District Courts have no pecuniary limitations. Exception eg., in West Bengal Courts of civil judge junior division have limited pecuniary jurisdiction but courts of civil judge senior division have unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction. 

Jurisdiction as to subject-matter: Different courts have been empowered to decide different types of suits. Certain courts are precluded from entertaining certain suits. For example, a Presidency Small Causes Court has no jurisdiction to try suits for partition of immoveable property, while only the District Judge or Civil Judge (Senior Division) can hear suits in respect of testamentary matters. 

Original and appellate jurisdiction: Original jurisdiction is inherent in or conferred upon, a court of first instance. In the exercise of that jurisdiction, a court of first instance decides suits, petitions or applications. Appellate jurisdiction is the power or authority conferred upon a superior court to re-hear by way of appeal, revision, etc., of causes which have been tried by courts of original jurisdiction. Munsiff Courts, Courts of Civil Judges, Small Cause Courts have original jurisdiction only while District Courts, High Courts and the Supreme Court have original as well as appellate jurisdiction.

Exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction: Exclusive jurisdiction is that which confers sole power on one court or tribunal to try a case. No other court or authority can render a judgment or give a decision in the case or class of cases. Concurrent or co-ordinate jurisdiction is jurisdiction which may be exercised by different courts or authorities between the same parties, at the same time and over the same subject-matter. It is, therefore, open to litigant to invoke jurisdiction of any such court or authority. 

General and special jurisdiction: General jurisdiction extends to all cases comprised within a class or classes of causes. While special or limited jurisdiction is jurisdiction which is confined to special, particular or limited causes.

Legal and equitable jurisdiction: Legal jurisdiction is a jurisdiction exercised by Common Law Courts in England, while equitable jurisdiction is jurisdiction exercised by Equity Courts. Courts in India are courts of both, law and equity.

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