Disputes can be either of criminal nature or of civil nature. Disputes of criminal nature are resolved by criminal courts while disputes of civil nature are resolved by civil courts. Under Civil Procedure Code, suits of civil nature can be brought against civil courts as far as jurisdiction of civil courts over suits of civil nature is concerned.
2. Relevant Provision
Section 9 of Civil Procedure code 1908
3. Basis of Section 9 of CPC
The basis of section 9 lies in the maxim ubi jus ibi remedium (where there is right there is remedy). Civil rights like the freedom of speech, liberty, religion, Association, office etc., are guaranteed by the constitution. So, the infringement of these rights shall result the remedy, which is asked from civil courts.
4. Nature of Suit
For determination of jurisdiction of the court, the nature of suit is determined on basis of pavements made in the plaint and not on the basis of defense.
5. What kind of Suits can be brought into civil courts?
Here following points are important
i. Suits of Civil Nature
Disputes are either of a civil nature or not of a civil nature Section 9 of Civil Procedure code, 1908, only empowers a court to entertain suits of civil nature. A suit of a civil nature is a proceeding the object of which is enforcement of rights and obligations of citizens.
ii. Bar against Jurisdiction
Against jurisdiction of civil courts, bar is that civil courts cannot exercise jurisdiction when cognizance of suits of civil nature by civil courts is barred. Such bar can be express or implied.
a. Express bar
Civil courts do not have jurisdiction to try suits of civil nature when cognizance of such suits is expressly barred. Legislature can restrict or modify jurisdiction of civil courts to try suits of civil nature through express legislation or through necessary enactment. For example, West Pakistan Land Revenue Act, 1967 has placed bar jurisdiction of civil courts to adjudicate upon any matter in which powers of adjudication has been given to revenue authorities.
b. Implied Bar
There can be implied bar against jurisdiction of civil courts to try suits due to principles of law or public policy. For example, jurisdiction of court to try suit can be implicitly barred when suit relates to act of state or when adjudication of some matter is against public policy or when special tribunal is created for adjudication of some matter.
iii. Which suits are suits of civil nature?
To determine suits of civil nature, following points are important.
a. Suit about right to property or office
When some right to property or office is contested in a suit, such suit is considered suit of civil nature. However, explanation is that a proceeding, which only relates a decision on questions about religious rites or ceremonies, cannot be considered suit of civil nature.
b. Civil Proceeding
Civil proceeding involves assertion or enforcement of civil right and is considered is process for recovery of individual right or redress of individual wrong. It reveals that object of civil proceeding is enforcement of civil rights and obligations of citizens. Such proceeding is considered suit of civil nature.
c. Determination of some Proceeding as suit of civil nature
Proceeding can be determined as suit of civil nature through subject matter of some suit and not through status of parties to suit.
To conclude, it can be stated that civil procedure code has granted general jurisdiction to civil court to try all suits of civil nature. No-doubt bar has also been provided against such general jurisdiction of civil court. However, civil courts have been exempted from such bar in specific circumstances.