Delhi High Court: Pecuniary Jurisdiction after Amendment of 2015

Determination of pecuniary jurisdiction of Delhi High Court

Pecuniary jurisdiction value for filing of the suit was mentioned in para 22 of the plaint and which para-22 reads as under:-

“22. That the purpose of court fee and jurisdiction the suit is valued
for the relief as mentioned as below:
i.  For the relief of partition at Rs. 77,00,000/-
ii.  For the relief of possession of 1/7th share at
iii.  For the relief of permanent injunction Rs.130/-
iv.  For the relief of rendition of account Rs.200/- and Ad
valorem court fees has been paid.”

Thus the total value of the suit for the purpose of pecuniary jurisdiction is therefore Rs.77,00,000/- +Rs.130 + 200. Therefore, the jurisdiction value is less than Rs. 2 crores, and in any case less than Rs. 1 crore. This suit has been filed on 2.11.2015 i.e after 6.10.2015 when Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2015 was notified.

Section 5 of the Delhi High Court Act,1966 pertains to the value for pecuniary jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court. Sub-Section 2 of the said Act specifies the pecuniary value when the High Court will exercise ordinary original civil jurisdiction. This Section 5(2) before amendment thereof by the 2015 amending Act reads as under:-

“5. Jurisdiction of High Court of Delhi
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time
being in force, the High Court of Delhi shall also have in respect of
the said territories ordinary original civil jurisdiction in every suit the
value of which exceeds [rupees twenty lakhs]”

Till 26.10.2015, the value of the suit prescribed under Section 5(2) of the Delhi High Court Act, 1966 was a sum of Rs. 20 lacs. The Delhi High Court Act was amended by Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2015 substituted the words “20 lacs” with the words “2 crores”. This 2015 amending Act has been notified and gazetted w.e.f 26.10.2015. This notification dated 26.10.2015 reads as under:-

(Department of Justice)
New Delhi, the 26 October, 2015
S.O.2903(E).- In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section(2) of section 1 of the Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2015 (23 of 2015), the Central Government hereby
appoints the 26 day of October, 2015 as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force.”

Therefore, once Section 5(2) of the Delhi High Court Act, 1966 stands amended by the Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2015, and which is notified for implementation w.e.f 26.10.2015, no suit can be filed in the Delhi High Court with respect to suits having pecuniary jurisdiction upto Rs.2 crores. Of course, this aspect of 2 crores would be reduced to a sum of Rs.1 crore in case the disputes which are commercial disputes as specified
under the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Ordinance, 2015.

While by Section 2 of the Delhi High Court Amendment Act, 2015 Section 5(2) of the Delhi High Court Act, 1966 was amended, simultaneously by Section 3 of the same Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2015, Section 25 of Punjab Courts Act, 1918 as applicable to Delhi was also amended to substitute the expression “Rs.20 lacs” with the expression “Rs.2 crores”. Section 25 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918 before amendment of 2015 read as under:-

“25. Original jurisdiction of District Judge in suits- Except as otherwise provided by any enactment for the time being in force, the court of the District Judge shall have jurisdiction [in every original civil suit the value of which does not exceed [rupees twenty lakhs]”

Punjab Courts Act, 1918 as applicable to Delhi deals with creation of District Courts and the pecuniary jurisdiction of the courts in the District Courts. The provision of Section 20 and 21 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918 talk of appointment of District Judges and Additional District Judges. Section 22 of the said Act deals with Subordinate Judges who are now called as Civil Judges. Section 24 of the said Act provides that the Court of the District Judge will be the principal civil court of original jurisdiction in the District Court. Section 25 provides the pecuniary jurisdiction value for suits to be filed before the court of District Judge.
Against the judgment passed by the District Judge/Additional District Judge a first appeal lie in terms of the provision of Section 38 to this High Court ie what is the appellate court against the judgment passed by a District Judge/Additional District Judge is duly provided.

Section 26 of the Punjab High Courts Act, 1918 provides that how the pecuniary jurisdiction value for original civil suits, and which as per Section 25 is with the District Judge, can be divided between District Judges/Additional District Judges, and the Civil Judges by prescribing suits up to a particular amount of value for the purpose of pecuniary jurisdiction for Civil Judges and District Judges/Additional District Judges and which, has to be determined by the High Court. Section 26 reads as under:-

“26. Pecuniary limits of jurisdiction of subordinate Judges- [Subject to the limit specified in Section 25 of the jurisdiction] to be exercised in original civil suits as regards the value by any person appointed to be a Subordinate Judge, shall be determined by the High Court either by including him in a class or otherwise as it thinks fit.”

As on date the pecuniary jurisdiction value for suits to be filed before a Civil Judge is Rs.3 lacs in terms of the notification dated 21.7.2003 issued by the High Court under Sections 25 and 26 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918.

In a nutshell, after passing of the Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2015, as per its Section 2 and 3 which have amended Sections 5(2) of the Delhi Court Act, 1966 and Section 25 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918, the pecuniary jurisdiction with respect to suits to be filed
in the Delhi High Court will be an amount exceeding Rs.2 crores for cases other than commercial cases covered under the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Ordinance, 2015 and that suits of pecuniary jurisdiction value above Rs.3 lacs and up to Rs.2 crores would have to be filed before the Court of the District Judge as per Section 25 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918. Therefore,
there is no reason why Registry of this Court should allow filing of ordinary civil suits up to Rs.2 crores. Once the Statutes passed by the Parliament are notified for implementation, the same come into force with immediate effect and it is not permissible for litigants to file suits in this Court up to pecuniary jurisdiction of 2 crores in normal cases and up to a pecuniary jurisdiction to Rs.1 crore so far as commercial disputes falling within Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Ordinance, 2015.

Above observations which are made in the present judgment pertain only to civil suits of the pecuniary jurisdiction value less than Rs.2 crores and not arbitration matters under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which are covered under Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Ordinance, 2015.

In view of the above, suit plaint in the present case is returned
to the plaintiff for being filed before the Court of the concerned District &
Sessions Judge having pecuniary jurisdiction.

[Source: Extracted from judgement in CS(OS) 3340/2015 decided by Delhi HIgh Court]


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