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SC said that the apex Court Has No Jurisdiction To Decide Whether The Court Which Decreed The Suit Had Territorial Jurisdiction

Team SoOLEGAL 22 Jan 2019 4:30pm

SC said that the apex Court Has No Jurisdiction To Decide Whether The Court Which Decreed The Suit Had Territorial Jurisdiction

“The High Court noticeably acted in excess of jurisdiction in repealing the judgment of the apex court which had correctly refused to entertain the opposition to the execution of the decree on the ground of a want of territorial jurisdiction on the part of the court which exceeded the decree.”

The two judge’s bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta stated that an opposition to the want of territorial jurisdiction does not travel to the root of or to the inherent lack of jurisdiction to entertain this suit in a civil court.

There in after, SC stated that an apex court had no jurisdiction to decide whether the court which passed the decree had territorial jurisdiction.

In reference to a case of two judge’s bench in Sneh Lata Goel vs. Pushplata was considering an appeal against a Jharkhand HC order that had set aside an executing court order was dismissed. Hence, the HC stated that the plea could not be executed on the ground because it had been passed by a court which had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the partition suit. The issue could be raised under Section 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

 Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the appellants and contended that an opposition to territorial jurisdiction does not relate to the inherent jurisdiction of the civil court and thus the executing court lacks jurisdiction to decide on that aspect. He further contended that such an objection must be raised before the competent court in appeal.

The counsel who appeared for the respondent, placed reliance on 4 judge bench decision in Kiran Singh v Chaman Paswan which contended the same issue. The bench, referring to Section 21 of CPC, observed that this provision which the legislature adopted made abundantly clear that an objection to the want of territorial jurisdiction does not travel to the root of or to the inherent lack of jurisdiction of a civil court to entertain the suit. Therefore, it is only where there is a consequent failure of justice that an opposition as to the place of suing can be entertained.

On Kiran Singh, the bench stated that the said judgment apparently holds that an objection to territorial jurisdiction and pecuniary jurisdiction is different from an objection to jurisdiction over the subject matter.

While explaining the background of Kiran Singh case, the bench also stated that, “there was a dispute in regard to the valuation of the suit. The issue would ultimately determine the forum to which the appeal from the judgment of the trial court would lie. If the valuation of the suit as set out in the plaint was to be accepted, the appeal would lie to the district court. On the other hand the fact was if the valuation as determined by the HC was to be accepted, the appeal would lie before the HC and not the District Court. The Court held that as a fundamental principle, a decree passed by a court without jurisdiction is a nullity and that its validity could be set up wherever it is sought to be enforced or relied upon, even at the stage of execution in a collateral proceeding. Also held that a defect of jurisdiction, whether pecuniary or territorial or whether it is in respect of the subject matter of the action, strikes at the very authority of the court to pass the decree and cannot be cured even by the consent of the parties.”

The bench referred to a few other judgments as well and observed thus: "The objection which was raised in execution in the present case did not relate to the subject matter of the suit."

 Finally, the court held that the HC was noticeably in error in coming to the conclusion. The bench stated while allowing the appeal:  “The HC has acted in excess of jurisdiction in reversing the judgment of the apex court which had correctly declined to entertain the objection to the execution of the decree.”


Tagged: chandrachud   hemant gupta   sc   hc   apex court   cpc   section 21  
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