Author: Chavi Bhura, UPES
In India, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 is a procedural law governing the administration of civil proceedings. The Code is divided into two portions, with the first part including 158 sections and the part two containing the First Schedule, which contains 51 Orders and Rules. The sections offer laws pertaining to general principles of jurisdiction, whereas the Orders and Rules specify the procedures and methods governing civil proceedings in India.
SECTION 9 OF CIVIL PROCEDURE CODE, 1908
According to this section, the court has the authority to hear all civil cases except those that are expressly or implicitly excluded. This is elaborated upon in two parts:
“A suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies.”
“For the purposes of this section, it is immaterial whether or not any fees are attached to the office referred to in Explanation I or whether or not such office is attached to a particular place.”
Two conditions must be met for a civil court to have jurisdiction over a case:
1. The suit must be civil
2. The cognizance should not have been impliedly or expressly barred for such a suit.
A civil suit is not specified in any Act. However, in Kehar Sinha v. Custodian General, the Supreme Court defined a civil proceeding as the granting of private rights to businesses or individuals.
According to the dictionary, a civil refers to a citizen or an individual. The intrinsic characteristics of a person or thing are referred to as its “nature.” The expression “civil nature” is more prevalent than “civil proceeding.” In PMA Metropolitan v. M.M. Marthoma, the Supreme Court defined the meaning of the term jurisdiction. The court said, “The expensive character of the section is demonstrated by the employment of both positive and negative phrasing; the language employed is straightforward but unambiguous.” It is based on civilised jurisprudence, hence the absence of a mechanism for the enforcement of rights renders it ineffective. The header, which is typically a key to the section, makes it very clear that all civil actions are cognizable unless they are excluded. The scope of the section is widened by the use of the term “shall” and the phrase “all civil suits, unless expressly or impliedly barred.” This clarifies what is meant by the phrase.
Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code restricts the exercise of jurisdiction by civil courts. The section, on the other hand, is susceptible to judicial interpretation and has been interpreted in a very restrictive manner in order to maximise the civil court’s jurisdiction. Numerous statutes, notably the CPC, expressly forbid the court’s jurisdiction in particular lawsuits. In general, the implied bar on civil court jurisdiction has been observed where it is contrary to public policy or when the statute in question provides a specific and exhaustive remedy. Even while a civil complaint is expressly or implicitly excluded under section 9 of the CPC, a civil court retains jurisdiction over administrative justice objectives such as fairness, natural justice, etc.
If the requirements of Section 9 are met in a given case, no court may refuse to examine the matter in question.
Suits of civil nature refer to actions brought before a Civil Court for the adjudication of a civil dispute, primarily to decide the claim to property or office. In the landmark case of Shankarnarayanan Potti v. K Sreedevi, the Supreme Court ruled that “it is obvious that in all type of civil dispute civil courts have inherited jurisdiction as per Section 9 of the CPC unless a part of Jurisdiction is carved out from such jurisdiction, expressly or by necessary implication by any statutory provision conferred on any other tribunal or authority.”
Section 9 of the CPC clearly addresses “the jurisdiction of a court to try the suit.” However, it is important to understand that there are two conditions that must be met before the lawsuit can be heard.
First, there must be a “cause of action.” Without showing that there was a valid cause of action, the lawsuit could be summarily dismissed. In addition, courts have held that interim injunctions cannot be the subject of a lawsuit.
Secondly, the plaintiff must have an inherent right to sue the defendant. It is important to emphasize that under common law, all individuals have the inherent right to file a lawsuit. In the case of appeals, however, statutory restrictions control who may and who may not file an appeal, whereas in the event of filing a lawsuit, there are no such provisions. In addition, the applicable principles have been clearly articulated by a Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in which the purpose and scope of Section 9 have been considered.
The following are the different stances of judiciary on the jurisdiction of the civil court:
The Secretary of State v. Mask & Co (1940)
This was a major ruling of the privy council, which declared that jurisdiction cannot be determined only based on inferences. The court should have sole authority to decide the case. Even if the court’s jurisdiction has been overtly or implicitly barred, it has the authority to discuss the merits of the case, the court ruled.
Dhulabhai vs. MP State (1968)
In this judgment, Justice Hindyatullah stated certain rules about the exclusion of civil court jurisdiction. When a state makes orders with finality, civil court jurisdiction is forbidden from typing the case. Such regulations do not eliminate cases that have violated the fundamental rules of the judicial system. When there is an express bar to the court’s jurisdiction, the bar of a particular act’s jurisdiction scheme must be examined to determine an appropriate remedy, but this is not essential for retaining civil court jurisdiction. It considers the terms of specific acts as an ultra-viral, and the High Court cannot review or referee the tribunal’s ruling. When the terms are deemed unlawful or when the constitutionality of any term is contested. Then, a writ of certiorari may be filed on the basis of refund, but there is no need to pay for the suit. Until the court infers these requirements, jurisdictional prohibitions cannot take place.
PMA Metropolitan v. M.M. Marthoma (1995)
Regarding Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code, the Supreme Court made an observation in this instance. Several terms under Section 9 carry both positive and bad connotations. The initial portion prohibits the introduction of civil cases that are expressly or implicitly forbidden, while the latter prohibits the entry of cases that are expressly or implicitly prohibited. The fact that the first clause was added at the bill’s genesis and the second clause was added after 1976 clarifies the legislative intent. A religious dispute involving the right to property is a civil matter; therefore, the civil court has jurisdiction over the case. The words and phrases require the court to uphold the parties’ rights. No court may decline to hear cases that match the case description. The term Shall makes this section mandatory.
State of Andhra Pradesh v. Manjeti Laxmi Kanta Rao (2000)
The Supreme Court established two criteria for the exclusion of civil court jurisdiction. There must be a legislative intent to exclude the civil court’s jurisdiction. Either directly or indirectly, justification for the exclusion of the suit must be supported by appropriate reasons. If the claimant does not have access to an alternative remedy, the civil court cannot be excluded from its jurisdiction.
Section 9A was added to the civil procedure code by the (Maharashtra Amendment) Act of 1970, which amended section 9. The Code is amendable by state legislatures because it is included in Entry 13 of the Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution. In order to exercise its legal rights, Maharashtra added Section 9A to the Civil Procedure Code. In 1976, however, the Code was significantly altered by the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1976, passed by the United Kingdom Parliament. In accordance with Section 97 of the aforementioned Amendment, all changes adopted by state legislatures prior to the implementation of the Amendment Act were repealed to the extent that they were inconsistent with the Amendment Act. In accordance with Article 254(2) of the Indian Constitution, the State Legislature re-enacted Section 9A as the Code of Civil Procedure (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 1977, with the approval of the President.
Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code describes the civil court jurisdiction in India. This section applies to any situation in which a person’s civil rights are threatened, regardless of whether or not the dispute is actually about a civil matter. If you disagree with a civil procedure verdict, decree, or order, you have the right to appeal it to a higher court. In S.A.L. Narayan Row v. Ishwarlal Bhagwandas, the Constitution Bench defined this phrase as “proceedings for remedy against the violation of a person’s civil right.”
There should have been no explicit or implicit limitations on the court’s authority to hear this complaint.
Section 9 of the Code stipulates that civil courts have jurisdiction over all civil cases unless expressly or implicitly excluded. Even if a statute expressly excludes a civil court’s jurisdiction and vests it instead in a statutory authority, the authority may still bring an action in a civil court if it exceeds the jurisdiction.
Statutorily prohibited lawsuits are considered “expressly barred.” During the evolution of civil dispute adjudication, legislation provided an alternative, less expensive, and quicker method of resolution.
A number of crimes are expressly excluded from the jurisdiction of civil courts. The following are examples of statutes that expressly exclude the jurisdiction of civil courts:
Financial Institutions Debt Recovery Act of 1993
The Electricity Act of 2003 of India
The Federal Act Establishing Mandatory Procedures for Arbitration and Conciliation, Effective May 1, 1996
Act for the Protection of Copies of Recorded Musical Works, 1957
The 1986 Consumer Protection Act
Impliedly prohibited lawsuits are those that cannot be filed because they violate preexisting legal standards. In situations where the law provides a particular remedy, the individual is prohibited from seeking alternative relief. Similarly, a civil court cannot hear a case if doing so would violate public policy. For a lawsuit to be deemed “impliedly barred,” it must be ruled inadmissible by well-established legal principles. When a remedy is specified in a statute, it prohibits individuals from seeking relief through any other means.
Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code is largely concerned with the civil court’s authority to hear a case. It stipulates that a civil court has the authority to hear a civil action unless its jurisdiction is expressly or necessarily barred. The civil court has the authority to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction over a subject, even though it may ultimately be determined that it does not. The civil court has the authority to determine whether a tribunal, quasi-judicial body, or statutory authority acted within its authority. Also, whenever a controversy arises regarding the jurisdiction of a civil court to hear a case, every presumption must be taken in favour of the civil court’s jurisdiction, unless the applicable statute clearly specifies otherwise. The burden of proof lies with the party challenging the civil court’s jurisdiction. When such an argument is made, it must be evaluated in light of the terms of the statute, the scheme of provisions, and the intent and purpose of the enactment.