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Place of institution of suit where local limits of jurisdiction of courts are uncertain

Section 18 of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908.

  1. Where it is alleged to be uncertain within the local limits of the jurisdiction of which of two or more Courts any immovable property is situate, any one of those Courts may, if satisfied that there is ground for the alleged uncertainty, record a statement to that effect and thereupon proceed to entertain and dispose of any suit relating to that property, and its decree in the suit shall have the same effect as if the property were situate within the local limits of its jurisdiction :
    Provided that the suit is one with respect to which the Court is competent as regards the nature and value of the suit to exercise jurisdiction.
  2. Where a statement has not been recorded under sub-section (1), and objection is taken before an Appellate or Revisional Court that a decree or order in a suit relating to such property was made by a Court not having jurisdiction where the property is situate, the Appellate or Revisional Court shall not allow the objection unless in its opinion there was, at the time of the institution of the suit, no reasonable ground for uncertainty as to the Court having jurisdiction with respect thereto and there has been a consequent failure of justice.

Scope and principle

The object of the Section, as mentioned by Mr. Scoble, in his speech in the Supreme Legislative Council on the 10th March 1888, is “to avoid a difficulty as to jurisdiction which frequently arises where the boundaries of estates are destroyed by fluvial action.” The principle of this Section applies also to execution proceedings though it does not, in terms, bind persons like execution creditors.

The words “and unless there has been a consequent failure of justice” have been newly added, in order to prevent the taking of technical objections as to jurisdiction.

Allegation of uncertainty

When an allegation as to the uncertainty of the property in dispute lying within the Court's jurisdiction is made, the Court must be satisfied that there is such uncertainty; and if so satisfied, it may record a statement and proceed with the case. It must try the question itself and cannot take the decision of a Revenue Court in respect of boundaries as settling the matter. But a former decision of the Privy Council or Constitutional Courts adjudging certain lands to be in a particular jurisdiction is binding upon the Courts and removes the uncertainty in the matter. When there has been no notification fixing the boundaries of a particular district, that fact might create a reasonable uncertainty as to whether a certain property is within that district or not.

Effect of not recording statement as to uncertainty

The non-recording of the statement as to uncertainty will not vitiate the decree where the Judge has, in fact, brought his mind to bear upon the question. Even otherwise it will not vitiate the decree unless;

  1. it appears that no reasonable uncertainty existed at the time of the suit, and
  2. there has been a failure of justice in consequence thereof.

Objection to jurisdiction

An objection to jurisdiction must be taken in the Court of first instance at the earliest opportunity and unless so taken, the decree of the trial Court cannot be set aside on the ground of uncertainty of its territorial jurisdiction.

Immovable property

See Notes to Section 16.