Read Judgment: Harris Zain vs. Rubab Harris

Pankaj Bajpai

Chennai, September  28, 2021: The Madras High Court has reiterated that the Doctrine of Dominus litis or doctrine of situs of the appellate Tribunal cannot be applied together.

The observation came pursuant to a petitions filed by the assessees challenging the orders passed by the Settlement Commission (SETCOM).

The primary objection to the maintainability of the petition is that the assessee as well as the SETCOM does not fall within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court of Madras.

The Single Bench of Justice S.M. Subramaniam observed that while answering on a similar issue, the Division Bench of this Court in W.A. No. 717 of 2020 passed an order on September 14, 2020 wherein it was held that: “the doctrine of dominus litis or doctrine of situs of the appellate Tribunal do not go together; and a dominus litis indicates that the suitor has more than one option, whereas the situs of an Appellate Tribunal refers to only one High Court wherein the appeal can be preferred”.

Further, the Single Bench also said that it was pointed out in W.A No. 717 of 2020 that situs of a Tribunal may vary from time to time and it could be Delhi or some other place or Chennai as in the case on hand and the determination of jurisdiction of the High Court should be based on the relevant Statute and that the Parliament never contemplated to have a situation of this nature and if the cause of action doctrine is given effect to, invariably more than one High Court may have jurisdiction, which is not contemplated.

The High Court therefore dismissed the petition, but at the same time, made it clear that the dismissal was solely on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction to entertain the Writ Petitions and the merits of the case of the petitioners have not been dealt with.

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