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Supreme Court of India

Tara Devi vs Sri Thakur Radha Krishna Maharaj, ... on 10 August, 1987

plaintiff has the right to value the relief claimed according to his own estimation and such valuation has to be ordinarily accepted. The plaintiff however, has not been given the absolute right or option to place any valuation whatever on such relief and where the plaintiff manifestly and deliberately underestimates the relief the Court is entitled to examine the correctness of the valuation given by the plaintiff and to revise the same if it is patently arbitrary or unreasonable.



Supreme Court - Daily Orders

Raghwendra Sharan Singh vs Ram Prasanna Singh(Dead) on 13 March, 2019

While scrutinizing the plaint averments, it is the bounden duty of the trial Court to ascertain the materials for cause of action. The cause of action is a bundle of facts which taken with the law applicable to them gives the Plaintiff the right to relief against the Defendant. Every fact which is necessary for the Plaintiff to prove to enable him to get a decree should be set out in clear terms. It is worthwhile to find out the meaning of the words "cause of action". A cause of action must include some act done by the Defendant since in the absence of such an act no cause of action can possibly accrue.

The plaint can be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 if conditions enumerated in the said provision are fulfilled. It is needless to observe that the power under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC can be exercised by the Court at any stage of the suit. The relevant facts which need to be looked into for deciding the application are the averments of the plaint only. If on an entire and meaningful reading of the plaint, it is found that the suit is manifestly vexatious and meritless in the sense of not disclosing any right to sue, the court should exercise power under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC. Since the power conferred on the Court to terminate civil action at the threshold is drastic, the conditions enumerated under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC to the exercise of power of rejection of plaint have to be strictly adhered to. The averments of the plaint have to be read as a whole to find out whether the averments disclose a cause of action or whether the suit is barred by any law. It is needless to observe that the question as to whether the suit is barred by any law, would always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The averments in the written statement as well as the contentions of the defendant are wholly immaterial while considering the prayer of the defendant for rejection of the plaint.

Even when the allegations made in the plaint are taken to be correct as a whole on their face value, if they show that the suit is barred by any law, or do not disclose cause of action, the application for rejection of plaint can be entertained and the power under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC can be exercised. If clever drafting of the plaint has created the illusion of a cause of action, the court will nip it in the bud at the earliest so that bogus litigation will end at the earlier stage.”


Supreme Court of India

Patel Roadways Limited, Bombay vs Prasad Trading Company on 6 August, 1991

In Hakam Singh v. M/s. Gammon (India) Ltd., [1971] 3 SCR Page 314 it was held that "corporation" referred to in Section 20 meant not only a statutory corporation but also a company registered under the Indian Companies Act. It was also held that it is not open to the parties by agreement to confer jurisdiction on any court which it did not otherwise possess under the Code. But where two courts have jurisdiction under the Code to try a suit or proceeding an agreement between the parties that the dispute between them shall be tried in one of such courts is not contrary to public policy nor does such an agreement contravene Section 28 of the Contract Act. In that case also there was a clause in the agreement being clause No. 13 which provided that notwithstanding the place where the work under the contract was to be executed the contract shall be deemed to have been entered into between the parties at Bombay and the court in Bombay alone shall have jurisdiction to adjudicate thereon. The trial court had held that the entire cause of action had arisen at Varanasi and the parties could not by agreement confer jurisdiction on the courts at Bombay which they did not otherwise pos- sess. In a civil revision filed by the respondent the Alla- habad High Court held that the courts at Bombay had also jurisdiction and in view of clause 13 of the agreement the jurisdiction of the courts at Varanasi stood ousted. It is in the appeal against the said judgment of the High Court that the propositions of law referred to above were laid down by this Court. It was held that since the respondent had its head office at Bombay the courts at Bombay also had 'jurisdiction by virtue of Section 20 of the Code read with its Explanation and in view of clause 13 of the agreement between the parties the courts in Bombay alone had jurisdic- tion in the matter. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. This view was reiterated by this Court in Globe Transport Corporation v. Triveni Engineering Works and Another, [1983] 4 SCC Page 707.


Clauses(a) and (b) of Section 20 inter alia refer to a court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant inter alia "carries on business". Clause (c) on the other hand refers to a court within the local limits of whose jurisdic- tion the cause of action wholly or in part arises. It has not been urged before us on behalf of the appellant that the cause of action wholly or in part arose in Bombay. Conse- quently clause (c) is not attracted to the facts of these cases. What has been urged with the aid of the Explanation to Section 20 of the Code is that since the appellant has its principal office in Bombay it shall be deemed to carry on business at Bombay and consequently the courts at Bombay will also have jurisdiction. On a plain reading of the Explanation to Section 20 of the Code we find an apparent fallacy in the aforesaid argument. The Explanation is in two parts, one before the word "or" occurring between the words "office in India" and the words "in respect of" and the other thereafter. The Explanation applies to a defendant which is a corporation which term, as seen above, would include even a company such as the appellant in the instant case. The first part of the Explanation applies only to such a corporation which has its sole or principal office at a particular place. In that event the courts within whose jurisdiction the sole or principal office of the defendant is situate will also have jurisdiction inasmuch as even if the defendant may not be actually carrying on business at that place, it will "be deemed to carry on business" at that place because of the fiction created by the Explanation. The latter part of the Explanation takes care of a case where the defendant does not have a sole office but has a princi- pal office at one place and has also a subordinate office at another place. The words "at such place" occurring at the end of the Explanation and the word "or" referred to above which is disjunctive clearly suggest that if the case falls within the latter part of the Explanation it is not the Court within whose jurisdiction the principal office of the defendant is situate but the court within whose jurisdiction it has a subordinate office which alone shall have jurisdiction "in respect of any cause of action arising at any place where it has also a subordinate office".


If the intention of the legislature was, as is said on their behalf, that a suit against a corporation could be instituted either at the place of its sole or principal office (whether or not the corporation carries on business at that place) or at any other place where the cause of action arises, the provisions of clauses (a), (b) and (c) together with the first .part of the explanation would have completely achieved the purpose. Indeed the effect would have been wider. The suit could have been instituted at the place of the principal office because of the situation of such office (whether or not any actual business was carried on there). Alternatively, a suit could have been instituted at the place where the cause of action arose under clause (c) (irrespective of whether the corporation had a subordinate office in such place or not). This was, Therefore, not the purpose of the explanation. The explanation is really an explanation to clause (a). It is in the nature of a clarification on the scope of clause (a) viz. as to where the corporation can be said to carry on business. This, it is clarified, will be the place where the principal office is situated (whether or not any business actually is carried on there) or the place where a business is carried on giving rise to a cause of action (even though the principal office of the corporation is not located there) so long as there is a subordinate office of the corporation situated at such place. The linking together of the place where the cause of action arises with the place where a subordinate office is located clearly shows that the intention of the legislature was that, in the case of a corporation, for the purposes of clause (a), the location of the subordinate office, within the local limits of which a cause of action arises, is to be the relevant place for the filing of a suit and not the principal place of business. If the intention was that the location of the sole or principal office as well as the location of the subordinate office (within the limits of which a cause of action arises) are to be deemed to be places where the corporation is deemed to be carrying on business, the disjunctive "or" will not be there. Instead, the second part of the explanation would have read "and in respect of any cause of action arising at any place where it has a subordinate office, also at such place".


As far as we can see the interpretation which we have placed on this section does not create any practical or undue difficulties or disadvantage either to the plaintiff or a defendant corporation. It is true that, normally, under clauses (a) to (c), the plaintiff has a choice of forum and cannot be compelled to go to the place of residence or business of the corporation and can file a suit at a place where the cause of action arises. If a corporation desires to be protected from being dragged into litigation at some place merely because a casue of action arises there it can save itself from such a situation by an exclusion clause as has been done in the present case. The clear intendment of the Explanation, however, is that, where the corporation has a subordinate office in the place where the cause of action arises, it cannot be heard to say that it cannot be sued there because it does not carry on business at that place. It would be a great hardship if, in spite of the corporation having a subordinate office at the place where the cause of action arises (with which in all probability the plaintiff has had dealings), such plaintiff is to be compelled to travel to the place where the corporation has its principal place. That place should be convenient to the plaintiff; and since the corporation has an office at such place, it will also be under no disadvantage. Thus the Explanation provides an alternative locus for the corporation's place of busi- ness, not an additional one.


There may be only one extra-ordinary situation in which this interpretation may cause an apparent anomaly. This is where the plaintiff has also his/its place of business at the same place as the corporation but the cause of action has arisen at some other place. The above interpretation would preclude him from filing a suit in that place of business common to both parties and compel him to go to a court having jurisdiction over the place where the cause of action has arisen. But this is not really a hardship because such plaintiff must have had some nexus or connection with the place since some part of the cause of action had arisen there; if he can have dealings with the corporation at such a place giving rise to the cause of action, there is no reason why he should find it disadvantageous or difficult to file a suit at such place. Equally, the corporation, having a subordinate office at the place, will suffer no disadvantage.


Supreme Court of India

Sneh Lata Goel vs Pushplata on 7 January, 2019

In Hiralal v Kalinath, a person filed a suit on the original side of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay for recovering commission due to him. The matter was referred to arbitration and it resulted in an award in favour of the Plaintiff. A decree was passed in terms of the award and was eventually incorporated in a decree of the High Court. In execution proceedings, the judgment-debtor resisted it on the ground that no part of the cause of action had arisen in Bombay, and therefore, the High Court had no jurisdiction to try the cause and that all proceedings following thereon where wholly without jurisdiction and thus a nullity. Rejecting this contention, a four judge Bench of this Court held thus:


“The objection to its [Bombay High Court] territorial jurisdiction is one which does not go to the competence of the court and can, therefore, be waived. In the instant case, when the plaintiff obtained the leave of the Bombay High Court on the original side, under clause 12 of the Letters Patent, the correctness of the procedure or of the order granting the leave could be questioned by the defendant or the objection could be waived by him. When he agreed to refer the matter to arbitration through court, he would be deemed to have waived his objection to the territorial jurisdiction of the court, raised by him in his written statement. It is well settled that the objection as to local jurisdiction of a court does not stand on the same footing as an objection to the competence of a court to try a case. Competence of a court to try a case goes to the very root of the jurisdiction, and where it is lacking, it is a case of inherent lack of jurisdiction. On the other hand, an objection as to the local jurisdiction of a court can be waived 8 AIR 1962 SC 199 and this principle has been given a statutory recognition by enactments like Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure.” (Emphasis supplied) In Harshad Chiman Lal Modi v DLF Universal Ltd.9, this Court held that an objection to territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction has to be taken at the earliest possible opportunity. If it is not raised at the earliest, it cannot be allowed to be taken at a subsequent stage. This Court held thus:

“30. The jurisdiction of a court may be classified into several categories. The important categories are (i) territorial or local jurisdiction; (ii) pecuniary jurisdiction; and (iii) jurisdiction over the subject-matter. So far as territorial and pecuniary jurisdictions are concerned, objection to such jurisdiction has to be taken at the earliest possible opportunity and in any case at or before settlement of issues. The law is well settled on the point that if such objection is not taken at the earliest, it cannot be allowed to be taken at a subsequent stage. Jurisdiction as to subject-matter, however, is totally distinct and stands on a different footing. Where a court has no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the suit by reason of any limitation imposed by statute, charter or commission, it cannot take up the cause or matter. An order passed by a court having no jurisdiction is a nullity.” In Hasham Abbas Sayyad v Usman Abbas Sayyad10, a two judge Bench of this Court held thus:

“24. We may, however, hasten to add that a distinction must be made between a decree passed by a court which has no territorial or pecuniary jurisdiction in the light of Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and a decree passed by a court having no jurisdiction in regard to the subject-matter of the suit. Whereas in the former case, the appellate court may not interfere with the decree unless prejudice is shown, ordinarily the second category of the cases would be interfered with.” Similarly, in Mantoo Sarkar v Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd, a two judge Bench of this Court held thus:

“20. A distinction, however, must be made between a jurisdiction with regard to the subject-matter of the suit and that of territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction. Whereas in the case falling within the former category the judgment would be a nullity, in the latter it would not be. It is not a case where the Tribunal had no jurisdiction in relation to the subject-matter of claim…in our opinion, the court should not have, in the absence of any finding of sufferance of any prejudice on the part of the first respondent, entertained the appeal.” 14 The objection which was raised in execution in the present case did not relate to the subject matter of the suit. It was an objection to territorial jurisdiction which does not travel to the root of or to the inherent lack of jurisdiction of a civil court to entertain the suit. An executing court cannot go behind the decree and must execute the decree as it stands. In Vasudev Dhanjibhai Modi v Rajabhai Abdul Rehman12, the Petitioner filed a suit in the Court of Small Causes, Ahmedabad for ejecting the Defendant-tenant. The suit was eventually decreed in his favour by this Court. During execution proceedings, the defendant-tenant raised an objection that the Court of Small Causes had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit and its decree was a nullity. The court executing the decree and the Court of Small Causes rejected the contention. The High Court reversed the order of the Court of Small Causes and dismissed the petition for execution. On appeal to this Court, a three judge Bench of this Court, reversed the judgment of the High Court and held thus:


“6. A court executing a decree cannot go behind the decree: between the parties or their representatives it must take the decree according to its tenor, and cannot entertain any objection that the decree was incorrect in law or on facts. Until it is set aside by an appropriate proceeding in appeal or revision, a decree even if it be erroneous is still binding between the parties.

8. If the decree is on the face of the record without jurisdiction and the question does not relate to the territorial jurisdiction or under Section 11 of the Suits Valuation Act, objection to the 12 (1970) 1 SCC 670 jurisdiction of the Court to make the decree may be raised; where it is necessary to investigate facts in order to determine whether the Court which had passed the decree had no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit, the objection cannot be raised in the execution proceeding.” 15 In this background, we are of the view that the High Court was manifestly in error in coming to the conclusion that it was within the jurisdiction of the executing court to decide whether the decree in the suit for partition was passed in the absence of territorial jurisdiction.


11. Place of suing
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