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Protection of individuals' rights and enforcement of laws in Courts may be termed as "Administration of Justice". Justice is broadly of two types:

  • Natural Justice - Principles of equity are applied
  • Legal Justice - Principles framed and recognized by state are applied
    • Civil Justice - To regulate Civil wrongs and to provide relief t o the injured/aggrieved
    • Criminal Justice - To regulate Public wrongs, crimes or offences

The power to regulate the wrongs is subject to 'Jurisdiction of the courts'.

Jurisdiction is the authority, capacity, power or right to act. It is the authority by which courts and judicial officers take cognizance of and decide cases. It gives the legal right by which judges exercise their authority.

Juris in Latin means 'law'. Diction means 'to speak'. So, the term 'Jurisdiction' means, 'the power to speak'.


The power conferred on the Court, by a statute to decide disputes/cases is called 'Jurisdiction'. It means the limits within which the Court can exercise its authority. In other words, before a court can hear a case, it should have the jurisdiction over the person or the company against whom the case is brought or over the property involved in the suit as well as the subject matter of the dispute.

Jurisdiction is an essential element to all lawsuits. A case may not be allowed by the court until it is determined that the court can accept, hear and decide such a suit.

Jurisdiction gives the Courts the power to:

  • Hear and determine the cause (decide the matter of controversy)
  • Adjudicate and
  • Exercise Judicial power

In the course of exercising its jurisdiction, a Court will have every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself.

Civil Courts Jurisdiction

  • Territorial or Local Jurisdiction
  • Pecuniary Jurisdiction (Pecuniary=Relating to money)
  • Jurisdictions as to subject-matter
    • Court's authority to determine the actual issue between the parties
  • Original and Appellate Jurisdiction
    • Original Jurisdiction: Court's authority to determine the rights and obligations of the parties in a lawsuit (e.g., trial court).

Criminal Courts Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of Criminal Courts can be classified into the following.

  1. Personal Jurisdiction
  2. Territorial Jurisdiction
    1. Intra-territorial Jurisdiction
    2. Extra-territorial Jurisdiction
  3. Admirality Jurisdiction

Personal Jurisdiction

Also called in personam jurisdiction, 'Personal jurisdiction' is the jurisdiction over the court over any person or business that resides in a certain geographic area.

  • A state court would generally have jurisdiction over the person or business located within the geographical limits of the state while the Supreme Court (or the highest court of the country) will have jurisdiction over all persons and business within the country.
  • Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code says that every person irrespective of his/her rank, nationality, caste or creed shall be liable for an offence committed in India and of which he is found guilty. It expends to foreign nationals also.

Eg: Adultery is not an offence in America, but is an offence under Section. 497 of the Indian Penal Code.


The following persons are always exempted from the jurisdiction of Criminal Courts as certain rights and privileges are conferred on them.

  1. Foreign Soverigns
  2. Ambassadors
  3. Alien enemies
  4. Foreign Army
  5. Warships
  6. President and Governors.

President and Governors of the Country are exempted from Jurisdiction of Criminal Courts under Article 361 of the Indian Constitution.

in rem Jurisdiction

in rem Jurisdiction is the jurisdictional power of the courts over property that is located within its boundaries. i.e 'jurisdiction over the thing'.

Territorial Jurisdiction

A person shall be liable for an offence committed over/throughout the territory of the State. Territory includes land and sea comprising of territorial waters.

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Law

  • Lockerbie case, ICJ Reports (1992) p. 12: Scottish courts exercised jurisdiction over the bombers of the airplane that exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Admirality Jurisdiction

This jurisdiction deals with maritime and mercantile cases.

Related Terms

  • Appellate Jurisdiction
  • Concurrent Jurisdiction - Situation in which more than one court has the authority to hear a particular case
  • Contentious Jurisdiction
  • Co-Ordinate Jurisdiction
  • Criminal Jurisdiction
  • Excess of Jurisdiction
  • Exclusive Jurisdiction - A court's authority to hear a case, that it is superior above all other courts
  • Foreign Jurisdiction
  • General Jurisdiction
  • Limited Jurisdiction
  • Pendent Jurisdiction
  • Probate Jurisdiction
  • Special Jurisdiction
  • Summary Jurisdiction
  • Voluntary Jurisdiction

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Laws

  • M s Apex Distributors and Others v M s Timex Group India Ltd and Others Transfer Petition (Crl) 197 / 2012, Criminal Original Jurisdiction, Writ Petition No 197 / 2012, Supreme Court of India judgement dated August 5, 2014 dealt with jurisdiction in regard to cases filed under Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881
  • PMA Metropolitan vs Moran Mar Marthonea, AIR 1995 SC 2001: A plea of absence of jurisdiction of civil court can be raised and entertained at any state.
  • Henriques vs Dutch West Indian Company (1728) 2 Ld. Raym 1532; Newby vs Colts Patent Firearms Co., (1872) LR 7 QB 293; A Foreign Corporation (i.e. a Corporation established by the law of a foreign country) may sue and be sued for a tort, just like any other corporation

US Cases

  • 11-965 DaimlerChrysler AG v Bauman: The question presented is whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum State.
  • Kloeckner v. Solis (11-184): If the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) decides a "mixed case" without determining the merits of the discrimination claim, is the court with over that claim the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or a district court?
  • In 1993, when federal courts are asked to stop Congressional action in regard to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) without an environmental impact statement, courts refused to interfere citing lack of jurisdiction over the matter. Though the courts did not interfere into the matter, the possibility of a court action appeared to be a serious threat on the Agreement and appeared as politics playing in the judiciary arena.

Related Legislation

Indian Legislation regarding Jurisdiction

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