Legal provisions that regulate the forum for the institution of suits in India

Sections 15 to 20 of the Code of Civil Procedure regulate the forum for the institution of suits-

Section 15. Pecuniary Jurisdiction:-Section 15 refers to the Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the Court. Every suit shall be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade competent to try it.

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Prima facie, it is the plaintiff’s valuation in the plaint that determines the jurisdiction of the Court and not the amount for which ultimately the decree may be passed by the Court.

Thus if the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court of the lowest grade is, say, Rs. 10,000/- and the plaintiff files a suit for accounts and finally the Courts finds on taking the accounts that Rs. 15,000/- are due, the Court is not deprived of its power to pass a decree for that amount.

That does not however, mean that the plaintiff in all cases is at liberty to assign any arbitrary value to the suit, and to choose the Court in which he wants to file a suit. If the plaintiff deliberately under values or over values the claim for the purpose of choosing the forum, the plaint cannot be said to be correctly valued and it is the duty of the Court to return it to be filed in the proper Court.

If it appears to the Court that the valuation is falsely made in the plaint for the purpose of avoiding the jurisdiction of the proper Court, the Court may require the plaintiff to prove that the valuation is proper.

Section 16. Suits to be instituted where the subject matter situate:

(a) Suits for recovery of immovable property with or without rent or profits.

(b) Suits for the partition of immovable property.

(c) Suits for foreclosure, sale or redemption in case of mortgage of or charge upon immovable property.

(d) Suits for the determination of any other right to or interest in immovable property.

(e) Suits for compensation for wrong to immovable property.

(f) Suit for the recovery of movable property actually under distraint or attachment.

Shall be instituted in the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situate.

Section 17. Suits for immovable property situate within jurisdiction of different Courts:

This section deals with the contingency where immovable property is situated within the jurisdiction of more than one Court. This section says “Where a suit is to obtain relief respecting, or compensation for wrong to, immovable property situate within the jurisdiction of different Courts, the suit may be instituted in any Court within local limits of whose jurisdiction any portion of the property is situated, provided that the suit is within the pecuniary jurisdiction of such Court.

Section 18. Place of Institution of suit, where local limits of jurisdiction of Courts are uncertain:

A case may, arise where it is not possible to say with certainty that the property is situate within the jurisdiction of the one or the other of several Courts.

In such a case, one of these Courts, if it is satisfied that there is such uncertainty, may after recording a statement to that effect proceed to entertain and dispose of the suit.

Section 19. Suits for compensation for wrongs to person or movables:

These suit may be brought at the option of the plaintiff either where the wrong or tort is committed, or where the defendant resides, or carries on business, or personally works for gain.

Illustrations:

(a) A, residing in Delhi, beats B in Calcutta. B may sue A either in Calcutta or in Delhi.

(b) A, residing in Delhi, publishes in Calcutta statements defamatory of B. B may sue A either in Calcutta or in Delhi.

Section 20. Other suits to be instituted where defendants reside or cause of action arises:

Section 20 provides for all other cases not covered by any Sections 15 to 19. All such suits may be filed at the plaintiffs option in any of the following Courts, viz,-

(i) Where the cause of action, wholly or partly arises; or

(ii) Where the defendants resides or carries on business or personally works for gain; or

(iii) Where there are two or more defendants, any of them resides or carries on business or personally works for a gain, provided that in such case;

(a) Either the leave of the Court is obtained; or

(b) The defendants who do not reside or carry on business or personally work for a gain, as aforesaid, acquiescence in such institution.

Illustrations:

(a) A is a tradesman in Calcutta. B carries on business in Delhi. B, by his1 agent in Calcutta buys goods of A and requests A to deliver them to the East Indian Railway Company. A delivers the goods accordingly in Calcutta. 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.

(b) A resides at Shimla, B at Calcutta and C at Delhi. A, B and C being together at Benaras, B and C make a joint promissory note payable on demand, and deliver it to A. A may sue B and C at Benaras, where the cause of action arose. He may also sue them at Calcutta, where B resides, or at Delhi, where C resides; but in each of these cases, if the Non-Resident defendant objects, the suit cannot proceed without the leave of the Court.

Section 21. Objections to jurisdiction:

No objection as to the place off suit will be allowed by an appellate or revisional Court unless the following three conditions are satisfied-

(i) The objection was taken in the Court of first instance;

(ii) It was taken at the earliest possible opportunity and in cases where issues are settled at or before such settlement; and

(iii) There has been a consequent failure of justice; all the above conditions must co-exist.