A Critique On The Territorial Jurisdiction Of Courts In India –


One of the most vital concerns that a legal practitioner is essentially seen to deal with, that is with respect to any particular dispute or one that has arisen out of a legal relationship between the respective parties subsequently brings into consideration the forum which has/will/have the territorial jurisdiction to entertain such a dispute. 

It would be imperative to take into cognizance the concept of jurisdiction which is a conglomeration of two terms, such as juris (meaning “law”) and diction (meaning “to speak”), which can be translated as presuming the appropriate forum that has the potential to “speak the law.” Likewise, the Black Law’s Dictionary has defined the aforementioned term as “a court’s power to decide a case or issue a decree.” In totality, the sole rationale behind introducing such a concept is that each court shall have the liberty to adjudicate and try those matters which tend to fall within the pecuniary or territorial limits of the concerned jurisdiction. The sheer origin of Jurisdiction can be claimed to draw its essence from Public International Law, Constitutional law, the conflict of laws and the powers stipulated in the legislative and executive branches of the government to allocate resources in order to adequately serve the needs of the society. 


It would be pertinent to take into consideration Section 20 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 which postulates that a plaintiff has the full freedom and liberty to file a suit in a particular court of law that is within the local limits of the opponent against whom such a claim voluntarily arises, wherein the latter is employed or is witnessed to carry on his/her business. 

Furthermore, the aforementioned provision also stipulates that the suit may also be filed before the court within the local limits of the opponent, wherein a part or the whole of the cause of action is witnessed to arise. That being brought under one’s attention, the cause of action is in general, considered to be facts in context to the relief, claim(s) brought forth by the plaintiff and also gives the said party an opportunity to bring forth a legal action against the said person. In addition to the same, the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 has also ensured to provide that in circumstances where there is more than one defendant, the concerned suit can be instituted in a particular court within whose jurisdiction, the defendant(s) carries on their business or resides. 

Having mentioned the same, it would also be pertinent to note that in circumstances, where the property is witnessed to be situated within the jurisdiction of more than one court, in such a situation, the plaintiff has the liberty to file the concerned suit in either of the courts falling within the jurisdiction of the parties. 

In the case of A.B.C. Laminart Private Limited v. A.P. Agencies Salemthe Hon’ble Supreme Court postulated that the cause of action can be considered to refer to every fact, which if transversed would make it compulsory for the plaintiff to make a proof of his right with reference to the judgement that is passed by the court. 


Section 177 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 plays an exemplary role in ensuring that every offence that is committed within the Indian jurisdiction would be tried and ordinarily inquired before the Court after taking into account the local limits of the offence that has been committed. What makes this provision all the more unique is that this law also stipulates that in cases where the offence is witnessed to consist of several acts, that have been committed in various local areas, in such conditions, the case will be tried and inquired before a particular Court that is witnessed to have jurisdiction over such local areas. 

One would also find it necessary to note Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which bestows the power and jurisdiction to Indian Criminal Courts, wherein if the offence is portrayed to be committed outside India by a non-citizen or an Indian Citizen, committed on aircrafts or on ships that have been registered in India, the accused will then be dealt with regard to the said offence, as if the said offence was in actuality, committed within a jurisdiction falling within India, provided that there has been a sanction acquired from the Central Government. In simpler words, while the police does take cognizance of the concerned offence within India, the trial will under no conditions, proceed without the previous sanction acquired from the Central Government as has been postulated in the aforementioned provision.

It would be essential to note the case of Reg c. Benito Lopez, wherein the issue pertaining to jurisdiction was brought into regard with respect to offences that are committed on the high seas by the foreigners or those travelling to England borne ships. This decision led to the highlighting of several principles of International Law, in which it was contended that an individual irrespective of the place where the crime was committed, is liable to be punished of their offences. 


The law under the Indian Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 holds an essential role in defining the concept of a “court” under Section 2(1)(e) wherein the mentioned provision states the very purpose of the Principal Civil Court that functions in a particular district that exercises original civil jurisdiction and is regarded to be competent under the applicable law to exercise jurisdiction in relation to the subject matter of arbitration. In addition to the same, this provision also provides that the Court is inclusive or a High Court of the respective States, but however does not include a particular court that is inferior to a court of Small Causes or a Principal Civil Court. 

This law that has been specified in the Arbitration Act provides that any individual who is aggrieved from a particular arbitration award, or in circumstances where the person wants to challenge the award or in conditions, where it wishes to enforce the award can bring forth an arbitration petition to either the Learned Civil Court or the Hon’ble High Court, in accordance to the stipulated provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, that has enlisted such rules of original civil jurisdiction. 

Therefore, any particular party with reference to an arbitration agreement can file such an arbitration petition seeking or challenging the enforcement of the arbitration award under the following conditions:

  • Either where the defendant carries on business or is seen to reside.
  • Where part or whole of the cause of action arises.

If one were to contemplate the essential principles of Arbitration Law, one would ensure to mention the essence of arbitration proceedings which are governed by the Municipal Law of the Seat of Arbitration, in which Section 2(1)(e) is worthy of mention which, as has been elucidated before, has defined the court having jurisdiction pertaining to the “subject matter of arbitration.” The law therefore is witnessed to confer supervisory jurisdiction on the High Court or the Principal Civil Courts within the local limits of arbitration. It would be pertinent to take into cognizance, the case of BALCO v. Kaiser Services, wherein the Apex Court shed light on the aforementioned principle and used the phrase, “subject matter of arbitration.”


The sheer nature of a Writ Petition brings into account the enforcement of Fundamental Rights that can be brought forth either before the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution or the High Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 226(1) of the Indian Constitution for instance, introspects and postulates that the High Court within whose jurisdiction the government, authority, or the individual is located would have the power of jurisdiction to entertain the said writ petition, directed against the defendant, irrespective of the place pertaining to the cause of action, provided that there was in fact, a cause of action to file the mentioned petition.

Furthermore, Article 226(2) of the Indian Constitution, provides that the High Court within whose local limits or jurisdiction a part or the whole of the cause of action is seen to arise shall have the jurisdiction to pass the required order(s) or direction(s), in order to ensure the enforcement of fundamental rights or any other right with respect to the same.


In totality, it is highly essential to deliberate and get a critical understanding of the concept of jurisdiction, given a misinterpretation of the relevant provisions can culminate to costs and a time-consuming procedure in matters of litigation. Furthermore, it would be imperative to note that in circumstances, where there is an absence of jurisdiction, such a jurisdiction within the respective court/forum/tribunal cannot under any means, be created through a contract between the concerned parties.

Dayakar Arra – Advocate | Call: 8790587665

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