Territorial challenges do not undermine core jurisdiction, nor do late jurisdictional arguments invalidate decisions

A bench led by Honorable Justice Rajesh Sekhri from the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh declared that territorial jurisdiction is a mixed legal and factual matter that cannot be decided by a trial judge. Core jurisdiction is not compromised by territorial disputes, nor are decisions invalidated by late jurisdictional disputes.

Synopsis of the Case:

In order to recover damages totaling Rs. 25.00 lacs, the petitioner filed a civil complaint against the respondent, M/s K.C. Hotels. The Petitioner objected, but the Court overruled her and granted warrants for the Petitioner’s bank account to be attached. The bank was reminded by the court to return the decreed sum. The court rejected the petitioner’s raised concerns regarding the maintainability and executability of the decree. But the amount was not paid.

The petitioner’s contentions:

The Petitioner contested the orders, arguing that the impugned decree ought to be ruled unconstitutional, citing the Trial Court’s inability to address a question of geographical jurisdiction. According to the petitioner’s attorney, precedent calls for the High Court to get involved in decisions made by lower courts.

Respondent’s points of contention:

Adv. Mr. S. K. Anand argues that a decree’s executability can only be contested in execution proceedings in cases where the Trial Court is not naturally empowered to do so. According to him, the parties are bound by a competent court’s decree and cannot contest it in court.

Court Observations:

The Honorable Court noted that a challenge to the Court’s inherent jurisdiction over a party is distinct from a challenge to the Court’s territorial or financial jurisdiction. The verdict would be void in the second scenario, but not in the first, as it was in this instance, because the Hon’ble Court was naturally authorized to hear the matter. Nonetheless, the Court declared that objections could be raised at any point in the proceedings, even in the execution or follow-up procedures.

Court’s Decision:

Unlike territorial or monetary jurisdiction, which the parties may claim at any point during the proceedings, the Court has inherent jurisdiction. Territorial disputes, however, do not weaken core jurisdiction, nor do late jurisdictional disputes invalidate decisions. The Court rejects the petition on the grounds that the contested orders are not unlawful or perverse.

M/s Oikos India Pvt. Ltd. vs. M/s K.C. Hotels Pvt. Ltd.

WP(C) No. 2718/2019 (O&M).

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