the concepts and types of jurisdictions in india


Do you know your suit can be rejected if you file it under a wrong jurisdiction? The lack of jurisdiction means the lack of rights or powers to deal with specific issues. Under which jurisdiction will you file a suit for breach of contract? What is the jurisdiction for reporting a case of unfair trade practices? In case of the product that you ordered online comes with defect where will you file the case for such defective product? To sum up all it is of utmost importance to pertain knowledge about the jurisdictions and its types.


Jurisdiction can be defined as the limitation of judicial power, or the extent to which the court can exercise its power in claims, cases, relief, etc. Jurisdiction is derived from two terms juris and dicto which means I speak by law. Jurisdictions is not defined under any statute. India’s Procedural Law, the Civil Procedure Law of 1908, did not comment on this. In other words, jurisdiction refers to the power of the court to rule or make decisions on matters before the court. This also applies to geographical areas where legal or judicial power can be exercised. In the case of Official Trustee v. Sachindra Nath, the Supreme court ruled out that Jurisdiction must not only include the power to hear but also the authority to hear and decide upon the question at issue presented before it and accordingly take steps to resolve the particular dispute that has arisen between the parties. A court having jurisdiction is said to be a competent court and each country explicitly defines jurisdiction under its legal framework which indirectly or directly plays an important role for the efficient administration and effective litigation management.[1] Therefore, it can be said that judicial jurisdiction, that is, the court has the right to review the cases authorized to it and exercise jurisdiction. The existence of jurisdiction is a necessary condition, otherwise it will be interpreted that the court’s order as invalid.

In Hirday Nath Ray v. Ramachandra Sarma, AIR 1929 the Calcutta High Court defined the term “jurisdiction” – as “the 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 its decision”. Further in Official Trustee vs. Sachindra Nath Chatterjee – the three judges’ bench of Supreme Court relying on the Hirday Nath Ray’s Case held that for a Court to have “jurisdiction” to decide a particular matter – that the Court must not only have jurisdictions to try the suit but must have the authority to pass the order sought for.[2] After examining the cases in the books, many attempts to define the term “jurisdiction” it was discovered. that the term “jurisdiction” means “the right to hear and determine facts and legal issues”; three judicial officers used The right to accept and resolve cases; ”The right to review and resolve disputes; “The right to hear and resolve disputes between the parties to the procedure, and the right to make decisions on them or exercise judicial power;” In the courts The right to hear, determine and adjudicate issues;” The legislature grants the court the ability or power to hear and determine the reasons between the parties and enforce judgments;” The right to investigate facts, apply the law, pass judgments and enforce the law.

The basis to determine jurisdictions.

Jurisdiction is decided mainly on the grounds of:

  1. Fiscal value;
  2. Geographical boundaries of a court;
  3. The subject matter of court.

So, the Court, before accepting notice of crime, need to take into consideration the following characteristics:

  • The Fiscal value of the trial.
  • The specialities of the case.
  • The regional limits of the court.

It is not only suitable that panel should have any right to deal with the issue or that the court has a pecuniary jurisdiction of the court has a local jurisdiction, but the court must be able to grant the compensation in such matter. In the case of Official Trustee Vs Sachin Nath, the court held that in order to deal with the topic the court must not be the only jurisdiction to decide a specific matter but also the court has the ability to give the order for which it is examined.[3]

Subject matter jurisdiction

The subject matter can be defined as giving the court the power to investigate and review cases related to specific types of issues. In other words, this means that certain courts are prohibited from hearing certain types of cases. It is ruled by a court without jurisdiction over the matter. It can be defined as the power of the court to decide and hear specific types of cases related to specific issues.

For example, Industrial Courts will hear the matters regarding industrial disputes and not any other matters as it is not authorised for the same. In the case of family disputes the Family Court is to be held as the court of jurisdiction. Corporate or Commercial matters are dealt with by the NCLT. Certain courts are prohibited from making counselling decisions based on status. Therefore, the lower courts can only make rulings such as verbal loans, debt or promissory notes, and labour price rulings, facts, etc., but have no right to hear complaints about the performance of specific contracts of the dissolution of the company by court orders or real estate-related litigation.

Territorial jurisdiction

There are certain territorial boundaries that limit the boundaries of each state. Therefore, in a designated area, the power or authority of the court can be exercised to review the case before a respected court or a person living in the designated area. Specific area this area is called the local jurisdiction. These territorial boundaries are set by the government, so the courts of a particular place cannot consider cases beyond their territorial boundaries. These rules are clearly formulated and stipulated by legislators. In this type of jurisdiction, the geographical boundaries of the court’s jurisdiction are clearly defined, and no court can exercise its powers outside these territories or geographical boundaries. Territory of a court is decided after taking into account several factors. They are :  Suits in respect of immovable property: If the suit is with regard to recovery, rent, partition, sale, redemption, determination of right of immovable property, it shall be instituted in the court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situated and if immovable property situated within the jurisdiction of different courts, then in such a case the suit may be instituted in any court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction any portion of the property is situated. 2. Suits for movable property/civil wrong: Where a wrong has been caused to a person, or any damage has been caused to a movable property, then the suit may be instituted either: In the place, where wrong or damage has been caused, or in the place, where the defendant (the person who caused the loss) resides, Where there is a dispute in business, agreement or any other kind of civil dispute, except matrimonial matter, then the suit may be instituted either, In a place, where the defendant resides or carries on business, or In a place, where the cause of action has arisen, i.e. where the dispute or wrong took place. Section 28 of the Indian Contract Act states that when more than one court has territorial jurisdiction, it is open for the parties to agree to confine the jurisdiction to any one or more of such several Courts having territorial jurisdiction. In New Moga Transport Company v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. and Ors, The Respondent had purchased certain articles which were booked for transportation to Barnala. The consignment reached Barnala. On account of a fire which took place allegedly due to electric short-circuiting, there was destruction of the whole consignment. A claim was lodged against the defendant for the loss suffered. In the suit, a specific plea inter alia was taken by the Appellant that the Court at Barnala had no jurisdiction to deal with the suit. With reference to the consignment note, it was submitted that the Court at Udaipur alone had jurisdiction to deal with the matter as it was indicated therein that the Court having jurisdiction was the one situated at Udaipur. The Supreme Court held that – if more than one Court has jurisdiction to try a suit or proceeding, parties by their consent may, limit jurisdiction to one of two courts. It was further explained that the intention of the parties can be discarded out from use of the expressions “only”, “alone”, “exclusive” and the like with reference to a particular Court. But the intention to exclude a Court’s jurisdiction should be reflected in clear, unambiguous, explicit and specific terms. In such a case, only the accepted concepts of contract would bind the parties. Here the first Appellate Court was justified in holding that, it is only the Court at Udaipur which had jurisdiction to try the suit. The High Court did not keep the relevant aspects in view while reversing the judgment of the trial Court and therefore the judgment of the High Court was set aside. Another Example: A is residing in Bhopal. B’ is residing in Chennai. B publishes a defamatory statement in Chennai against A on a social media. A may sue B in Chennai as well as in Bhopal because both the Court have the concurrent jurisdiction. Another Example: A is a tradesman who updates his website in Calcutta; B carries on business in Delhi. B buys goods of A, online and requests A to deliver them to the East Indian Railway Company. A delivers the goods accordingly in Calcutta however B denied to make the payment. A may sue B for the price of the goods either in Calcutta, where the cause of action has arisen or in Delhi, where B carries on business. Now if we see the identification of jurisdiction over e-commerce dispute then the traditional approach to jurisdiction invites a court to ask whether it has the territorial, pecuniary, or subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the case brought before it.

With the internet, the question of ‘territorial’ jurisdiction gets complicated largely because the internet is borderless. Therefore, while there are no borders between one region and the other within a country there are no borders even between countries. E-commerce websites operating in India are required to follow many laws of India including the Information Technology Act, 2000. As per the IT Act, 2000 these e-commerce websites operating in India are Internet intermediaries and they are required to comply with cyber law due diligence requirements as well. For Example, A is a tradesman who maintains his website from USA. B is a resident of Delhi, India. B decided to order a few goods from A based on the A representation on his website. B order the goods online and requests A to deliver them to his address in India.

Further, when A fails to deliver the goods on time, B suffers a heavy loss. B sued A in an American Court, wherein the American Court pass order in favour of B and order A to compensate B for the same. Thereafter, B also filed a petition in Delhi High Court for the enforcement of the same. The Delhi High Court will consider the American Courts Judgment as a conclusive.If we further analyse the above-mentioned example under the purview of personam jurisdiction then even B has the right to direct sue A before Indian Courts. Because here A even if a resident of America and provides online services to the consumers all over the world. If A commits an offence under the IT Act, 2000, then also he can be sued in Indian Courts. The IT Act 2000 attempts to change outdated laws and provides ways to deal with cybercrimes.

Let’s have an overview of the law where it takes a firm stand and has got successful in the reason for which it was framed. In Casio India Co. Ltd. v. Ashita Tele Systems Pvt. Ltd. the Plaintiff was aggrieved by the registration of the domain name “” by the Defendant having its registered office in Mumbai. The Plaintiff filed a suit for trademark infringement in the Delhi High Court under the relevant provisions of the Trademarks Act, 1999 along with an interim injunction application under Order 39 Rule 1 & 2 CPC, 1908. The Defendant raised issues of territorial jurisdiction, wherein the Defendant contended that the Defendant it carrying out its business in Mumbai only and no cause of action arose in Delhi. The Plaintiff, however, claimed that the website could be accessed from Delhi also.

The plaintiff, on the other hand, claimed to be a 100% subsidiary of Casio Computer Ltd., Japan (Casio Japan), which was the registered owner of the trademark ‘Casio’ in India used for a large number of electronic and other products. The Plaintiff had registered a large number of domain names in India like ‘’, ‘’, ‘’, etc. Defendant No. 1 had obtained the above domain names during the time when it held a distributorship agreement with the Plaintiff. Justice Sarin observed that “once access to the impugned domain name website could be had from anywhere else, the jurisdiction in such matters cannot be confined to the territorial limits of the residence of the defendants.

Since a mere likelihood of deception, whereby an average person is likely to be deceived or confused was sufficient to entertain an action for passing off, it was not at all required to be proved that “any actual deception took place at Delhi. Hence, it was held that the fact that the website of the Defendant can be accessed from Delhi is sufficient to invoke the territorial jurisdiction of this court.’ Further in Satya v. Teja Singh, 1975[4] held that “every case which comes before an Indian court must be decided under Indian law. It is another matter that the Indian conflict of laws may require that the law of a foreign country ought to be applied in a given situation for deciding a case, which contains a foreign element. Such recognition is accorded not as an act of courtesy, but on considerations of justice. It is implicit in that process that a foreign law must not offend our public policy.”[5]

Pecuniary jurisdiction

Pecuniary is related to money. Pecuniary jurisdiction attempts to determine whether the court can consider pending cases or the monetary value/amount of a court decision to review cases and judgments. For example, consumer courts have different monetary policy capabilities. Sec 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure commands the organisation of the suit in the court of the low grade. It refers to pecuniary jurisdiction of Civil court. It is a course of the method and it does not affect the jurisdiction of the court. The main objective of establishing pecuniary jurisdiction is to prevent the court of a higher level from getting burdened and to provide assistance to the parties. However, the court shall interfere if it finds the judgment to be wrong. For example, ’A ’wants to accuse ‘B’ due to a violation of the contract to obtain Rs 5000 in Bombay. The Bombay High Court has original jurisdiction and small causes court with the jurisdiction up to Rs 50000. So, a suit to obtain Rs 5000 should ideally be dealt with small causes court. In the case of Karan Singh Vs Chaman Paswan the plaintiff filed a suit in the subordinate court involving an amount of Rs 2950, but the court rejected the case. Later his next appeal was allowed by the High Court, but it ordered him to pay the deficit amount. The appellant contested that the decision of the district court will be a nullity, but the High Court dismissed the claim. Later the Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the High Court declaring that the decision of district court won’t be void.[6]

Original jurisdiction

The initial or original jurisdiction is related to the cases that the court has the power to resolve in the first instance, while the jurisdiction of the appellate court lies in the court hearing earlier cases. The case is being negotiated again here. The jurisdiction of a court may again be Original or Appellate. In the exercise of its original jurisdiction a court entertains original suits, while in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction it entertains appeals. The Munsifs court and the court of small causes have only original jurisdiction; the District Judge’s court and the various High Courts have both original and appellate jurisdiction.

Appellate jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction refers to the power of the court to hear or repeat the cases that have passed appeals, retrials, etc., which have been resolved in the courts. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over acquired cases. to take the subjects that are bought in the form of appeals. It can set aside or confirm the judgment of the first instance court, and in some cases, it can change the judgment.


It is to be noted that it is very important to know the jurisdictions. Without proper jurisdictions suits cannot be enforced also there will a delay in the granting of justice. Proper judicial administration is one of the most important constitutional goals. It must meet the expectations of society and have experience in all legal fields. Obviously, in accordance with various procedural rules; in India, different civil courts have different jurisdictions to handle all civil litigation. Indian civil courts must first consider all factors related to jurisdiction, and then decide the case.


  • Anirudh, Critically analyzing the different types of jurisdictions under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, Legal Service India, 2020.
  • Diva Rai, How to identify the jurisdictions of Civil Courts in India, Ipleaders, Oct 7,2020.
  • Maria Paliwala, Jurisdictions of Civil Courts Under Code Of Civil Procedure, Ipleaders, Jan 6, 2020.
  • Satya v. Teja Singh, 1975 AIR 105, 1975 SCR (2) 97.

[1] Anirudh, Critically analyzing the different types of jurisdictions under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, Legal Service India, 2020.

[2] Diva Rai, How to identify the jurisdictions of Civil Courts in India, Ipleaders, Oct 7,2020.

[3] Maria Paliwala, Jurisdictions of Civil Courts Under Code Of Civil Procedure, Ipleaders, Jan 6, 2020.

[4] Satya v. Teja Singh, 1975 AIR 105, 1975 SCR (2) 97

[5] Supra note 2.

[6] Supra note 3.

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