Monday 1 November 2021

Whether Jurisdiction of civil court is barred where the statute gives a finality to the orders of the special tribunals?

 In Dhulabhai v. State of Madhya Pradesh [AIR 1969 SC 78 : (1968) 3 SCR 662 : (1968) 22 STC 416] the position was similar to that in the two cases noticed above. Section 17 of the Madhya Bharat Sales Tax Act provided that no assessment made and no order passed under the Act or the Rules made thereunder shall be called in question in any Court. It was conceded by the State Government that the sales tax levied on the appellants was unconstitutional in view of Article 301 of the Constitution but it was contended that the civil court had no jurisdiction to entertain the appellants' suit for refund of the tax in view of Section 17 of the Act. After an examination of various decisions including those to which we have referred in this judgment Hidayatullah, J. who spoke for the Constitution Bench formulated seven propositions bearing on the construction of statutes which, expressly or by necessary implication, bar the jurisdiction of civil courts. It is unnecessary to examine each one of those propositions for the short reason that as in the case of Bharat Kala Bhandar and B.M. Lakhani, so in the case of Dhulabhai the recovery of sales tax was unconstitutional and the suit, for that reason, was held maintainable. Attention must, however, be drawn to propositions (1), (4) and (6). The first proposition states that where the statute gives a finality to the orders of the special tribunals the civil courts' jurisdiction must be held to be excluded if there is adequate remedy to do what the civil courts would normally do in a suit. Such provision, however, does not exclude those cases where the provisions of the particular Act have not been complied with or the statutory tribunal has not acted in conformity with the fundamental principles of judicial procedure. The fourth proposition is that when a provision is already declared unconstitutional or the constitutionality of any provision is to be challenged, a suit is open. The sixth proposition which bears more appropriately on the instant case says that questions of the correctness of the assessment apart from its constitutionality are for the decision of the authorities and a civil suit does not lie if the orders of the authorities are declared to be final or there is an express prohibition in the particular Act. In either case the scheme of the particular Act must be examined because it is a relevant enquiry. {Para 14}

Supreme Court of India
Bata Shoe Co vs City Of Jabalpur Corporation on 11 March, 1977
Citations: 1977 AIR 955, 1977 SCR (3) 182,
Author: Y Chandrachud

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