Territorial Jurisdiction of the Courts


Jurisdiction of a Court, as one may already know, is the power of a Court to proceed with the trials of a case and bind the parties involved with its judgment. Meanwhile, the Territorial Jurisdiction is the jurisdiction of a Court determined by its geographical boundaries. It is used to determine the power of the Court to handle the presented matter and categorizes where a case should/can be presented for the convenience of both the parties or at least, the proceedings and investigation of pieces of evidence.

Factors affecting Jurisdiction

The territory of a court is decided after considering several factors, which include:

  • Nature of the suit and the matter (criminal or civil);
  • Where the crime took place, or the civil dispute arose;
  • Where either of the parties arises;
  • Where the subject matter of the dispute is located (example: property);
  • Where the business of the defendant is located (in case of civil suits).

Territorial Jurisdiction of Courts in case of different matters

Since different types of suits require different kinds of Courts and thus, varying types of jurisdiction, the nature of territorial jurisdiction also changes based on what type of suit is filed in front of the Court.

Thus, it can be categorized into four parts:

  • Civil Courts

According to Section 20 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, if the suit is in regard to recovery, rent, partition, sale, redemption or determination of right of immovable property, it shall be instituted in the court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situated in. However, in case the immovable property is located within the jurisdiction of different courts, the suit may be instituted in any court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction any portion of the property is situated.

In case of dispute between two or more persons with respect to movable property/business, the suit should be filed either where the place of business is or where the defendant resides. It can also be filed in the Court of the area where the goods of the business were damaged.

Thus, in a nutshell, disputes in business, contracts or any other kind of civil disputes (except matrimonial matter) shall be instituted either in a place where the defendant resides or carries on business or in a place where the cause of action has arisen, i.e., where the dispute or the damage took place.

In case of matrimonial matters where a dispute arose between husband and wife in regard to their married life, the case can be filed in the place where marriage was solemnized, in the place where the opposite party is residing, in the place where the person filing the case is currently residing or in the place where husband and wife last resided together.

  • Arbitration

Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 provides the definition and jurisdiction of a court in the cases of arbitral disputes. It states that the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction (including the District or High Court) may be accounted as Court under this section. Any party aggrieved by the arbitral award passed or has reasonable doubts over the conduction of proceedings may approach such Court for redressal.

The territorial jurisdiction here is almost the same as any civil matter; the suit shall either be filed in a Court nearby the residence of the parties involved, where the business was located/conducted or the place from where the cause of action arises partially or fully.

  • Criminal Courts

According to Section 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the trial or proceedings or any criminal offence shall be tried within the Courts within the local limits of the crime. Thus, the territorial jurisdiction here limits the Court’s jurisdiction to only those criminal cases that have taken place within its locality. In case of the crime is conducted in more than one locality, the aggrieved party can approach the Court of either of the jurisdiction – preferably the one where most of the crime has occurred for the easier access to witnesses and pieces of evidence during the proceedings.

However, if an Indian citizen commits a crime in a foreign nation or if a non-citizen commits an offence on an Indian transport service, then they shall be trailed under the same laws and provisions as if they had committed the offence within a place in India, according to Section 188 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

  • Writ Petitions

Since writ petitions are filed to enforce the fundamental rights of selected individuals or communities, they can only be filed in either the Supreme Court, which is situated in the capital of India or the High Court. In such a case, the territorial jurisdiction may only apply to when the writ petition is filed in the High Court.

Article 226 (1) of the Constitution of India states that the High Court has the power to entertain any writ petition whose jurisdiction the person, authority or government is located irrespective of the place the cause of action may arise.

Meanwhile, Article 226 (2) of the Constitution of India gives the High Court the power to hear the trials of any writ petition whose cause of action arose in the locality or within the jurisdiction of the said High Court and enforce the fundamental right of the person(s) whose rights are infringed.


  • Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India).
  • Constitution of India, 1950.
  • Civil Procedure Code, 1908, Acts of Parliament, 1908 (India).
  • Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Acts of Parliament, 1996 (India).

Author: Debapriya Biswas,
Amity Law School, Noida (3rd year)

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