CPC Case Brief – Horlicks v. Heinz

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Facts- Prior to appearing before the Delhi High Court, the parties had filed a series of suits against each other in three different courts, which were on-going and the suits filed in the Delhi High Court was the fourth and the fifth suit filed.

In the fourth and the fifth suits filed, GSK and Horlicks filed two suits against Heinz India Ltd., alleging disparaging advertisements made by the latter. Heinz contended that the suits should not be heard on the principle of “forum non convenience” and the parties had already been heard extensively on the matter. GSK contended that the principle of “forum non convenience” had no application and the Court was bound to hear this case since it was within the Court’s jurisdiction.

Holding-

  • The Court held that Section 151 of the Code gave it the power to pass any orders or decisions that it may see fit in the interests of justice. This power is only limited if there is an explicit prohibition against a certain order that the court wishes to pass.
  • The Court was of the view that “forum non convenience” did not confer a jurisdiction on a court contrary to the provisions of section 20, but it came into effect where a court for valid and sound reasons, does not wish to entertain a suit that it otherwise has jurisdiction over.
  • The court observed that it is accepted that Section 20 of the Code does not bar or prohibit parties from entering into a contract or mutual understanding that courts only at a particular location will have exclusive jurisdiction to decide the disputes and oust jurisdiction of courts located at other locations. This interpretation was used by the court to hold that the principle of forum non-convenience was not barred by, or alien to section 20 of the code.
  • The court also held that while High Courts could not transfer cases to other high courts under section 24, and that power was reserved only with the Supreme court under section 25; the plaints of the suit could, however, be returned on the grounds of forum non convenience.
  • The court further held that the doctrine of forum non-convenience is invoked by the court to not entertain a matter presented before it in view of the fact that there exists a more appropriate court of competent jurisdiction, which would be in a better position to decide the issue between the parties. In this way, it was distinguished from an anti-suit injunction, where one Court restrains the parties from approaching another court. “Forum non convenience” however, allows a court to refuse to exercise its own jurisdiction and directs parties to approach what it feels is the better, more appropriate forum.
  • The court held that the principle of forum non convenience should not be exercised unless the court comes to a conclusion that the case can be tried most suitably in the alternative forum and it is in the interest of all parties, in the ends of justice and there are grounds not to entertain a party. There should be a clear, real and a distinct dis-advantage, to negate right of the plaintiff to decide the forum or the court where he wants to institute a suit.
  •  It is appropriate to repeat that principle of ‘forum non-convenience’ can be applied rarely when there are overwhelming facts and interest of justice requires that a Court that has jurisdiction should not adjudicate the suit/legal proceedings. It should only be applied when failure to do so, could result in abuse of process of Court and cause grave injustice.

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CPC Case Brief – Modi Entertainment v. WSG Cricket

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  • A party to the contract containing jurisdiction clause cannot normally be prevented from approaching the court of choice of the parties as it would amount to aiding breach of the contract, yet when one of the parties to the jurisdiction clause approaches the court of choice in which exclusive or non- exclusive jurisdiction is created, the proceedings in that court cannot per se be treated as vexatious or oppressive nor can the court be said to be forum non-conveniens.
  • The burden of establishing that the forum of choice is a forum non- conveniens or the proceedings therein are oppressive or vexatious would be on the party so contending to aver and prove the same.
  • Here, two contentions have been urged; the first is that the English Court is forum non-conveniens in view of the alleged breach of the agreement by the respondent in the manner not foreseen. This, in our view, is far from being a good and sufficient reason to ignore the jurisdiction clause. Even otherwise the fact that the parties had agreed to resolve their disputes arising under the agreement, shows that they had foreseen possible breach of the agreement by any of the parties and provided for the resolution of the disputes which might arise therefrom.
  • And the second is that English Court has no connection with either of the parties or the subject-matter and it is not a court of natural jurisdiction. This reason can be taken note of when strong reasons are shown to disregard the contractual obligation. It cannot be a good and sufficient reason in itself to justify the court of natural jurisdiction to interdict action in a foreign court of choice of the parties.
  • The rule that parties cannot confer jurisdiction on a court which does not possess it originally is not applicable to foreign courts and parties could confer jurisdiction on a court of neutral law.

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CPC Case Brief – Subhash Mahadevasa Habib v. Nemasa Ambasa Dharmadas (Lack of Inherent Jurisdiction)

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The Code of Civil Procedure has made a distinction between lack of inherent jurisdiction and objection to territorial jurisdiction and pecuniary jurisdiction. Whereas, an inherent lack of jurisdiction may make a decree passed by that court one without jurisdiction or void in law, a decree passed by a court lacking territorial jurisdiction or pecuniary jurisdiction does not automatically become void. At best it is voidable in the sense that it could be challenged in appeal therefrom provided the conditions of Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure are satisfied. It may be noted that Section 21 provided that no objection as to place the suing can be allowed by even an appellate or revisional court unless such objection was taken in the court of first instance at the earliest possible opportunity and unless there has been a consequent failure of justice.

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CPC Case Brief – Harshad Modi v. DLF Universal (Jurisdiction – Proviso Section 16)

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Fact:- Property is situated in Gurgaon District. But suit for declaration, for specific performance of an agreement for possession of property and for permanent injunction, was filed in Delhi court.

Issue:-

Whether the suit against the immovable property can be tried by the courts in the Delhi jurisdiction when the property is situated at Gurgaon.

Holding:-

The apex court held that section 16 recognizes a well-established principle that action against res or property should be brought in the forum where such res or property situate. A court within whose territorial jurisdiction the property is not situated has no power to deal with and decide the rights or interests in such property.

This Court found that the agreement conferring jurisdiction on a court not having jurisdiction was not legal, valid and enforceable

The proviso to Section 16, no doubt, states that though the court cannot, in case of immovable property situate beyond jurisdiction, grant a relief in rem still it can entertain a suit where the relief sought can be obtained through the personal obedience of the defendant. The proviso is an exception to the main part of the section which cannot be interpreted or construed to ‘enlarge’ the scope of the principal provision. It would apply only if the suit falls within one of the categories specified in the main part of the section and the relief sought could entirely be obtained by the personal obedience of the defendant. The proviso to section 16 is applicable only when the relief sought is obtainable through the personal obedience of the defendant, i.e., when the defendant has not at all go out of the jurisdiction of the court for such purpose. It enables a person to file a suit in the court within local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant actually or voluntarily resides or carries on business or personally works for gain.

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CPC Case Brief – Dhulabhai v. The State of Madhya Pradesh (Civil Court Jurisdiction – Tribunal)

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Fact:-

The appellants are dealers in tobacco. They get their tobacco locally or import it from extra-state places. The former Madhya Bharat State enacted in 1950 the Madhya Bharat Sales Tax Act. Under §3 of the Act every dealer whose business in the previous year in respect of sales or supplies of goods exceeded in the case of an importer and manufacturer Rs. 5,000 and in other cases Rs. 12,000 had to pay tax in respect of sales or supplies of goods effected in Madhya Bharat. The government, in pursuance of this power, issued a number of notifications. All these notifications imposed tax at different rates on tobacco above described on the importer that is to say at the point of import. The tax was not levied on sale or purchase of tobacco of similar kind in Madhya Bharat. The tax was collected by the authorities in varying amounts from the appellants for different quarters. The appellants served notices under s. 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure and filed the present suits for refund of the tax on the ground that it was illegally collected from them being against the constitutional prohibition in Art. 301 and not saved under Art. 304(a) of the Constitution.

Holding:-

The court laid down various principle, they are:-

  • Where the statute gives finality to the orders of the special tribunals the Civil Court’s jurisdiction must be held to be excluded if there is adequate remedy to do what the Civil Courts would normally do in a suit.
  • Where there is an express bar of the jurisdiction of the court, an examination of the scheme of the particular Act to find the adequacy or the sufficiency of the remedies provided may be relevant but is not decisive to sustain the jurisdiction of the civil court.
  • The challenge to the provisions of the particular Act as ultra vires cannot be brought before Tribunals constituted under that Act.
  • When a provision is already declared unconstitutional or the constitutionality of any provision is to be challenged, a suit is open.

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CPC Case Brief – Bhagwandas Goverdhandas Kedia v. Girdharilal Parshottamdas (Contract Jurisdiction)

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Facts:-

Plaintiff offered to get certain goods supplied at Ahmedabad to defendants who accepted the offer at Khamgaon. On defendants’ failure to supply requisite goods, the plaintiff sued them at Ahmedabad. A dispute arose as to where was contract formed at Khamgaon where acceptance was given by defendants or at Ahmedabad where acceptance was received by plaintiffs.

Issue:-

Whether the contract was formed at the place of acceptance or at the place where acceptance was received?

Holding:-

The court held that the contract act does not expressly deal with the place where a contract is made. The conversation over the telephone is analogous to the conversation when the parties are in presence of each other, where the negotiations are concluded by instantaneous speech. In case of correspondence by post or telegram, a third agency intervenes which is responsible for effective transmission of letters at every instance, however, in case of telephonic conversation, once the connection has been established, there is no need of any third agency to transmit the correspondence between the parties. Hence, as against cases of correspondence by post or telegram, in the present case where there was correspondence by telephone, a contract was formed when acceptance was duly communicated to the offeror and hence, at Ahmedabad.

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Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 Case Briefs

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Jurisdiction

Forum non-conveniens and anti-suit injunction

Res judicata

Res Sub Judice

Joinder of Parties and Claims

Pleadings and amendment of pleadings

Plaint-Return of plaint and rejection of plaint

Suits against the government and consolidation of suits

Written Statement (Set off Rule)

Counter Claim and Summons

Discovery (Order XI)

Class 14 – Injunctions (Order XXXIX)

Appeal

First Appeal

Revision

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