HC imposes cost for Filing Petition which was out of its territorial Jurisdiction
High Courts are the highest courts in a state. They are an important part of the judicial system in India. Articles 214 to 231 in the Indian Constitution talk about the High Courts, their organization and powers. The Parliament can also provide for the establishment of one High Court for two or more states.
The High Courts are the highest courts of law in the state or union territory in which they are situated or have jurisdiction. Their judgments have legal effect within the territories of the states and/or union territories over which they have jurisdiction.
The High Courts hear civil and criminal appeals from subordinate courts under their control. The High Courts of Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras however have original jurisdiction in civil cases of certain monetary value. Every High Court has original jurisdiction in revenue matters (Article 225) as well as those relating to admiralty, matrimony, probate, and contempt of court and election petitions. Significantly, other than the Supreme Court, High Courts are the only courts entrusted with writ jurisdiction for enforcing fundamental rights as well as for other purposes under the Constitution (Article 226). This jurisdiction of the High Courts is wider than that of the Supreme Court.
Let us refer to the case of Vijay Goverdhandas Kalantri & Another Vs Union of India & Others (Punjab and Haryana High Court) where the issue under consideration was whether the filing of the petition without jurisdiction only to gain benefit of its interim order is sustainable in law?
Facts of the Case
- It was contended by the petitioners that they were disqualified from acting as Directors in a company (respondent 4)
- The Advocate of Union of India pointed out to the Court that both the petitioners were residents of Mumbai and the company (respondent 4) from which the petitioners were disqualified to act as Directors, was also registered with the Registrar of Companies, Mumbai (respondent 3)
- He also pointed out that the Registrar of Companies, Punjab and Chandigarh (respondent 2) was included as a party only to secretively create jurisdiction of this Court.
- However, the Registrar of Companies, Punjab and Chandigarh (respondent 2) had no connection with the present case and this Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the present petition.
- The petitioners contended that since they wished to invest in a company within the jurisdiction of this Court, therefore, the present petition was filed.
Observations of HC of Punjab and Haryana w.r.t Article 226
- The counsel for the petitioners was unable to show how the petition was maintainable before the Punjab and Haryana HC.
- There was no ground whatsoever made out for invoking the jurisdiction of this Court under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India as neither the petitioners were residents of Punjab, Haryana or UT Chandigarh nor was the company (respondent 4) registered with the Registrar of Companies, Punjab and Chandigarh (respondent 2).
- Jurisdiction of the High Court is limited to the territorial jurisdiction of the State(s) of which it is the High Court.
- According to Article 226(1) of the Constitution of India, every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, to issue to any person, authority or any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.
- The power conferred by Article 226(1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories.
- Thus, Article 226 of the Constitution of India, in clear terms, empowers the High Court to entertain a petition if the cause of action to file such a petition against the respondents of the said petition has arisen wholly or in part within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court.
Reference to the case of ONGC vs. Utpal Kumar Basu, (1994)
- The Apex Court held thaton a plain reading of the aforesaid two clauses of Article 226 of the Constitution it became clear that a High Court can exercise the power to issue directions, orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution or for any other purpose if the cause of action, wholly or in part, had arisen within the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, notwithstanding that the seat of the Government or authority or the residence of the person against whom the direction, order or writ is issued is not within the said territories.
- The image and prestige of a court depends on how the members of that institution conduct themselves.
- If an impression gains ground that even in cases which fall outside the territorial jurisdiction of the court, certain members of the court would be willing to exercise jurisdiction on the plea that some event, however trivial and unconnected with the cause of action had occurred within the jurisdiction of the said court, litigants would seek to abuse the process by carrying the cause before such members giving rise to avoidable suspicion.
- That would lower the dignity of the institution and put the entire system to ridicule.
- SC set aside the order of the High Court and directed that the writ petition would stand disposed of for want of jurisdiction.
Reference to the case of Aligarh Muslim University vs Vinay Engineering Enterprises Private Limited
- The Supreme Court held that the High Court of Calcutta should not have exercised jurisdiction in a case where it had absolutely no jurisdiction.
- The contracts in question were executed at Aligarh, the construction work was to be carried out at Aligarh, even the contracts provided that in the event of dispute the Aligarh Court alone will have jurisdiction.
- The arbitrator was from Aligarh and was to function there. Merely because the respondent was a Calcutta-based firm, the High Court of Calcutta seems to have exercised jurisdiction where it had none by adopting a queer line of reasoning.
- According to the SC this was a case of abuse of jurisdiction and they felt that the respondent deliberately moved the Calcutta High Court ignoring the fact that no part of the cause of action had arisen within the jurisdiction of that Court.
- Thus the litigation filed in the Calcutta High Court was thoroughly unsustainable.
Observations w.r.t the present case
- In the present case the counsel for the petitioners was been unable to show as to what part of the cause of action arose within the territorial jurisdiction of this Court.
- The present writ petition seemed to have been filed only to gain benefit of the interim order passed by the Court in ‘Gurdeep Singh & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Anr.’ and other similar cases though the initiation of the writ proceedings before this High Court was clearly unsustainable and an abuse of jurisdiction.
- The filing of the present writ petition before the High Court was not genuine and hence was dismissed.
- HC imposes cost of Rs 1 lakh to be deposited with the PM Cares Fund for Filing Petition which was out of its territorial Jurisdiction
Therefore, filing of the petition without jurisdiction only to gain benefit of an interim order or any other case is not sustainable in law.