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Jurisdiction of courts to try suits for compensation for wrongs to person or movables

Section 19 of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908.

Where a suit is for compensation for wrong done to the person or to movable property, if the wrong was done within the local limits of the jurisdiction of one Court and the defendant resides, or carries on business, or personally works for gain, within the local limits of the jurisdiction of another Court, the suit may be instituted at the option of the plaintiff in either of the said Courts.

(a) A, residing in Delhi, beats B in Calcutta. B may sue A either in Calcutta or in Delhi.
(b) A, residing in Delhi, publishes in Calcutta statements defamatory of B. B may sue A either in Calcutta or in Delhi.

Scope of the Section

Having dealt with suits relating to immovable property in Sections 16, 17 and 18 , this Section proceeds to deal with another class of cases, namely suits for compensation for wrong done to the person or personal property. It declares that suits may be brought either where the wrong is committed, or where the defendant resides or carries on business or personally works for gain. It applies to the High Courts also.

In order that the Section may apply:

  1. there must be a wrong done to the person or personal property, and
  2. the suit must be one for compensation therefor.

Wrong to person or personal property

A wrong, in this Section, means the infringement of a legal right and is consequently an actionable wrong. Legal civil rights relate to the body, mind, or estate of a person and any invasion of such rights will constitute an actionable wrong. Where there is no legal injury, no action will lie. The Section, however, does not apply to all kinds of actionable wrongs but only to actionable wrongs to the person or to moveable property. Where wrongful criminal proceedings are instituted against a person and he is arrested thereunder, the arrest is a wrong done to his person and the Court of the place where he is arrested will have jurisdiction to try a suit in respect of such wrong. Where plaintiffs cargo boats are wrongfully seized by the defendant, the seizure is a wrong done to moveable property, and a suit in respect thereof can be brought at the place where the seizure was made. Where property is lost in one district and is found in another, a suit for its recovery may be instituted in the district in which it is found. In suits relating to moveable property the Court within whose jurisdiction the moveable property is kept has jurisdiction to try the case.

Suit must be one for compensation

Suits for injunctions, e.g., against disturbances of rights of patent and trade mark, are excluded from the scope of the Section. Where the defendant has, by means of a tort, become possessed of a sum of money at the expense of the plaintiff, the plaintiff may elect to sue either for damages, for tort or for the recovery of money wrongfully obtained by the defendant; the latter is based on an implied contract of agency, the defendant being fictitiously assumed to have rightfully received the money as the plaintiff’s agent and to have failed to pay it over to his principal, the plaintiff. In the former case, the suit would be one falling within this Section and in the latter, within Section 20.

Torts committed outside India

The Section applies only to wrongs in India. Cases of wrongs committed outside India by defendants residing within the jurisdiction of the Court fall under Section 20 of the Code and not under this Section.


The word “resides“ does not apply to legal entities such as the Government or a company, but to natural persons. Where therefore a tort is committed for which the State is liable, the suit can be brought only where the tort was committed and not elsewhere on the ground that he “resides” there. For fuller notes, see Section 20.

Carries on business

See Section 20.

Personally works for gain

See Section 20.