Question of Jurisdiction Shall be Attended First: SC

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The Supreme Court, while hearing CIVIL PETITIONS NO.2270 & 2272 OF 2023, commented on a few very important questions. The Court held that question of jurisdiction shall be dispensed with first before a court proceeds further. Jurisdiction is a command and a legal authority which authorizes a court or a tribunal to adjudicate disputes between parties. There is no concept of adjudication without jurisdiction. If a court does not attend the question of jurisdiction first and proceeds to adjudicate a matter, this might result in waste of time of the court as well as of the parties if it proves, at a latter stage, that the court does not have jurisdiction. Thisย  may alsoย  result in limitationย  issues for further litigation.

A judgment of the BHC was under challenge before the SC wherein the petitioner asserted that their dispute is an election disputeย  regarding local bodies election and alleged ragging in it. The matter was brought up before the ECP which asked the parties to approach the Election Tribunal as constituted for this purpose under section 37 of the 2017-Act. The respondent approached the BHC instead of Election Tribunal. The Petitioner raised question of jurisdiction before the BHC but it was not dispensed with. Hence, he approached theย  SC.

The Supreme Court analyzed the concept of jurisdiction, meaning of โ€˜coram non judiceโ€™ย  and โ€˜per incuriamโ€™ย  saying that any judgment given by a court without jurisdiction cannot hold the field. Similarly, any judgment which ignores a relevant statute or its provision which would have affect on the judgment if the court did not ignore it. Thus, the judgment of the BHC not only ignores section 37 of the 2017 Act, which mandates the ET to adjudicate election matters, but it has also not attended to the question of jurisdiction. Thus, the matter was remanded to the BHC to decide these questions first before proceeding further with the matter.

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