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Synopsis

I. Meaning of jurisdiction

II. General Principles

1. Jurisdiction can be conferred and taken away only by law:

2. Exclusion must be explicitly expressed or clearly implied:

3. Consent cannot confer Jurisdiction:

4. Statutory jurisdiction is to be exercised subject to specified limitations:

5. New right and special remedy:

6. Conflict to be avoided between concurrent jurisdictions:

7. Consensual jurisdiction:

I. Meaning of jurisdiction

The word jurisdiction is derived from ‘juris’ and ‘dico’ which means - I speak by the law. Jurisdiction means the authority of a court to decide matters or to take cognizance of matters presented in a formal way for its decision. The statute, charter or commission under which the court is constituted usually also defines the limits of its authority. Jurisdiction may have to be considered with reference to place, value and nature of subject-matter. The classification into territorial, pecuniary and jurisdiction over the subject -matter is considered to be of a fundamental character.

II. General Principles

1. Jurisdiction can be conferred and taken away only by law:

A distinct and unequivocal enactment is required for the purpose of conferring or taking the jurisdiction of a court of law.

In Smith v Brown, it was held that it could not be said that merely because an act conferred jurisdiction upon a particular court to grant “any claim for damages done by a ship” that would also enable a person to recover damages for personal injuries. The purpose of the act was to enable owners to claim damages to the ship itself in the event of an accident and there was no intention in the act to confer jurisdiction to hear claims arising out of personal injuries as that would amount to creating a new jurisdiction which could not be created by implication.

2. Exclusion must be explicitly expressed or clearly implied:

Exclusions not to be really inferred since people have a right to insist on free access to courts of general jurisdiction be they civil courts or criminal justice courts.

No implied ouster: For a court which would otherwise have jurisdiction in respect of the subject matter concerned ouster cannot be implied it must be express.

Existence of jurisdiction in civil courts to decide questions of civil nature is the general rule and exclusion is an exception of this rule. Therefore, the burden of proof to show that jurisdiction is excluded in any particular case is on the party who raises such contention. (Ramayya v. Laxminarayan)

3. Consent cannot confer Jurisdiction:

The parties by mutual consent, can no more take away jurisdiction vested by law in any court than they can confer on it when it is not so vested by law. (Maha Prasad v. Ramani Mohan)

4. Statutory jurisdiction is to be exercised subject to specified limitations:

Where the jurisdiction of a court in certain matters is statutory, it is not entitled to go outside those provisions, and in effect legislate for itself (King Emperor v. Dahu Raut)

But where an act confers jurisdiction on a tribunal, it must be taken to have impliedly granted the power of doing all such acts or employing such means as are essentially necessary to its exercise or execution (Central Bank of India v. P. S. Rajagopalan)

5. New right and special remedy:

Where a new right or liability is created by a statute which also gives a special remedy for enforcing it, the ordinary remedy of approaching the civil court is impliedly excluded and the special remedy is exclusive.

In such cases there is no ouster of the jurisdiction of civil courts, for they never had any, there is no change in the old order of things; a new order is brought into being. (Bhai Shankar v. Municipal Corporation Bombay )

6. Conflict to be avoided between concurrent jurisdictions:

Sometimes, two equally competent authorities are conferred concurrent jurisdiction, comity needs to be observed in such cases and a clash of jurisdiction is to be avoided.

7. Consensual jurisdiction:

As regards consensual jurisdiction, the Privy Council had in Hannah Eissa v. Vishara Elias observed, where a consensual jurisdiction requires for its constitution the consent of all parties, the absence of consent whether it be due to unwillingness to consent or in ability to consent is fatal.

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