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JURISDICTION ISSUE DEFENDANT HAS TO PROVE IT STRICTLY 2008 SC

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Justice P.P. Naolekar & Justice Aftab Alam bench in a case of Mahant Dooj Das (Dead) through L.Rs. v. Udasin Panchayati Bara Akhara & Anr.; Reported in 2008(5) Supreme 425, & 2008 (7) SCR 470
The Uttar Pradesh Urban Areas Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1956 received the assent of the President on 7.3.1957 and was published in the U.P. Gazette Extraordinary dated 12.3.1957. The Act was brought into force to provide for the abolition of Zamindari system in agricultural areas situated in urban areas of U.P. and for acquisition of the rights, title and interest of the intermediaries between the tiller of the soil and the State in such areas and for introduction of the land reforms therein. By virtue of s.8 of 1956 Act, after the agricultural area has been demarcated under s.5, the State Government would issue a notification in the official gazette declaring that from specified date all demarcated area situated in the urban area shall vest with the State Government and from the date so specified all such agricultural area shall be transferred to and vest except otherwise provided, in the State free from all encumbrances. There is no evidence led by the defendants that the suit land had been declared as a demarcated area and as such as vested with the State government under s.8 of the 1956 Act. In the absence of proof, it cannot be said that the suit area is a demarcated area and thus vested in the State by issuance of the notification under s.8 of the Act.

No evidence has been led by the defendants on whom heavy burden lies to prove the fact that the suit lands were declared demarcated. The defendants have claimed ouster of the civil court's jurisdiction only on the basis of s.331 of the 1950 Act incorporated in the 1956 Act. The defendants having failed to prove the applicability of that provision to the area in the suit, civil court's jurisdiction cannot be said to have been ousted and vested in the revenue court.

Under section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the courts shall have jurisdiction to try all suits of civil nature excepting suits of which there is a bar expressly or impliedly provided. It is well settled principle that a party seeking to oust jurisdiction of an ordinary civil court shall establish the right to do so. It is also settled law that exclusion of the jurisdiction of the civil court is not to be readily inferred, but that such exclusion must either be explicitly expressed or clearly implied. The provisions of law which seek to oust the jurisdiction of civil court need to be strictly construed.

In Dwarka Prasad Agarwal (D) by LRs. v. Ramesh Chander Agarwal and Others, (2003) 6 SCC 220, a 3-Judge Bench has held that Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure confers jurisdiction upon the civil courts to determine all disputes of civil nature unless the same is barred under a statute either expressly or by necessary implication. Bar of jurisdiction of a civil court is not to be readily inferred. A provision seeking to bar jurisdiction of a civil court requires strict interpretation. The court, it is well settled, would normally lean in favour of construction, which would uphold retention of jurisdiction of the civil court. The burden of proof in this behalf shall be on the party who asserts that the civil court’s jurisdiction is ousted.


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