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Civil Court Jurisdiction Cannot Be Completely Taken Away In Spite Of Bar If Jurisdictional Error Is Pleaded: SC [Read Judgment]

ashok
20 Aug 2019 11:41 AM GMT
Civil Court Jurisdiction Cannot Be Completely Taken Away In Spite Of  Bar If Jurisdictional Error Is Pleaded: SC [Read Judgment]

"The civil courts shall have jurisdiction to examine a matter in which there is an allegation of non-compliance of the provisions of the statute or any of the fundamental principles of judicial procedure."

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The Supreme Court has observed that the jurisdiction of the civil courts cannot be completely taken away in spite of either an express or implied bar.

The civil courts shall have jurisdiction to examine a matter in cases of jurisdictional error, i.e. when there is an allegation of non-compliance of the provisions of the statute or any of the fundamental principles of judicial procedure, the bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta said. But the bench held that, in absence of such pleadings n the plaint in this regard, the suit will not be maintainable.

In South Delhi Municipal Corporation vs. M/s Today Homes and Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., the issue considered by the Apex Court was whether a civil suit is maintainable in disputes pertaining to payment of tax under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.

In this case, civil suit was filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the assessment order and the warrants of attachment by the Corporation. The single bench, relying on NDMC v. Satish Chand, held that the civil suit was not maintainable. The Division bench, remanded the suit to single bench, on the ground that it was not examined whether the remedy provided by the Statute was onerous nor determined whether the limited window for filing a civil suit, in spite of a bar.

In appeal filed by the Corporation, the Apex Court bench observed that intendment of the legislature while enacting the Act was to exclude jurisdiction of civil courts. It held that Civil Court's jurisdiction, in this case, was impliedly barred. It said

There is no pre-existing liability of tax under Common Law. The liability has been created by Delhi Municipal Corporation Act along with a remedy by way of an appeal to the Municipal Taxation Tribunal. Necessarily, where a party aggrieved by the decision of the authorities has to resort to the remedy provided under the Statute, civil courts' jurisdiction is barred.


Section 171 of the Act gives finality to orders passed by Municipal Taxation Tribunal, which shows the intendment of the legislature to exclude jurisdiction of civil courts.


The remedy provided by Section 169 of the Act is an adequate and effective remedy. We are not in agreement with the High Court that an appeal provided by the Statute against orders of assessments, containing an 'onerous' pre-condition of deposit of the entire amount in dispute, is not an effective remedy.

While holding the suit as not maintainable, the bench further observed:

"We have examined the plaint filed by the Respondents carefully. We do not see any allegation made regarding the violation of any provisions of the statute. There is also no pleading with regard to non-compliance of any fundamental provisions of the statute. It is settled law that jurisdiction of the civil courts cannot be completely taken away in spite of either an express or implied bar. The civil courts shall have jurisdiction to examine a matter in which there is an allegation of non-compliance of the provisions of the statute or any of the fundamental principles of judicial procedure. A plain reading of the plaint would suggest that the order impugned in the suit is at the most an erroneous order. No jurisdictional error is pleaded in the plaint. Therefore, the question of maintainability of the suit does not arise." 

Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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