Legal Provisions of Section 15 of Code of Civil Procedure 1908, (C.P.C.), India – Procedure in Suits before Hearing

Every suit shall be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade competent to try it.

The object of this provision by requiring a suitor to bring his suit in the court of the lowest grade competent to try it is that courts of higher grades may not be overcrowded with suits. At the same time it does not oust the jurisdiction of the courts of higher grades, but the higher grade court should return the plaint in such case to the plaintiff to be presented to the court of the lowest grade competent to try it.

The section lays down a rule of procedure and not of jurisdiction. Exercise of jurisdiction by a court of higher grade than is competent to try it is a mere irregularity, but exercise of jurisdiction by a court of lower grade than is competent to try it is a nullity and the decree will be set aside. Consent of parties cannot confer jurisdiction.

Over-valuation and under-valuation:

Although jurisdiction is determined prima facie, by the value put by the plaintiff on his suit, he is not at liberty to give any arbitrary valuation and institute the suit in the court of his own choice. If the over-valuation or under-valuation is patent on the face of the plaint the court shall on discovery return it to the plaintiff to be presented to the proper court under Order VII, Rule 10.

The over-valuation or under-valuation of the suit does not afford a ground for having the decree set aside unless objection as to over-valuation or under-valuation was taken by the defendant in the court of first instance at or before the framing of the issues and the over-valuation or under-valuation has, in the opinion of the appellate court, prejudicially affected the disposal of the case on the merits.

Village Court had jurisdiction to try suits between tribals:

The village Court has jurisdiction to try suits between the parties who were tribes residing within its local jurisdiction and the Sub-District Council Court shall have jurisdiction to try all suits and cases between the parties, who may not come under the same village but within the areas under the jurisdiction of such Courts and also suits referred to it by the Village Court.

In any case, there cannot be any bar for the Sub-District Council Court to assume jurisdiction in trial of suits between the parties who reside in its jurisdiction. At best it can be said that both these Courts may have concurrent jurisdiction on the principle of law given by Sections 15 and 21 of the Civil Procedure Code.

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