According to a recent ruling by the Kerala High Court in Nishad Mathew v. State of Kerala & Ors., challenges to the trial court’s territorial jurisdiction should be made as soon as possible, prior to the introduction of evidence or the cross-examination of witnesses.
If the jurisdictional issue is not raised at the outset of the trial, the court has inherent jurisdiction to decide the case, according to Justice A. Badharudden.
A competent court’s order or sentence cannot be overturned unless a prejudice is pleaded and proven, according to the single judge, who cited a number of precedents and Section 462 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). This is true even when there is no inherent lack of jurisdiction, lack of territorial jurisdiction, or other ground for irregularity.
The Court was debating a revision petition submitted by the defendant in a matter that was being heard by a magistrate court under the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act.
Later, the petitioner asked for the case to be transferred, claiming that in accordance with Section 142(2) of the NI Act, the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Kalamassery is the court with jurisdiction due to the fact that the complaint’s account at Union Bank of India’s Kalamassery branch is where the check was presented for collection.
The transfer was approved by the Magistrate Court for NI Act matters, but the case was returned to it by an Additional Sessions Court. The petitioner subsequently went to the High Court to contest the Sessions Court’s ruling.
The petitioner had admitted the court’s jurisdiction, thus the NI Court concluded the trial, the High Court said. The petitioner didn’t make any claims regarding territorial jurisdiction until that point.
The Court concluded that transfer on the basis of lack of territorial jurisdiction cannot be supported because the introduction of evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses had already been finished. As a result, the Court dismissed the revision petition and gave the NI Court one month to issue its ruling.
Sojan Macheal, an advocate, represented the petitioner.
Advocates KS Sumeesh, CK Anwar, and Senior Public Prosecutor TR Renjith represented the respondents.