[Commercial Dispute | Appellate jurisdiction] Appeals By Commercial Courts At Level Of District Judge To Be Listed Before Division Bench: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court has recently clarified that appeals arising out of orders/judgments passed by Commercial Courts at the District level are required to be placed before a Division Bench and not a Single Judge in terms of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, while answering whether in terms of Section 13 (1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), appeals arising out of orders/judgments passed by a Commercial Court at the level of District Judge exercising Original Civil jurisdiction are to be heard by a Single Judge or should be placed before a Division Bench, clarified that, in terms of Section 5 of the Act, the present Court has designated Division Benches as the Commercial Appellate Division and therefore, any appeal must be placed before a Division Bench and not Single Judge.
Pursuant to its decision, the Court analysed the objective and legislative scheme of the Act;
- Section 13(1A) Appeals from Decrees of Commercial Courts and Commercial Divisions: Any person aggrieved by the judgment or order of a Commercial Court at the level of District Judge exercising original civil jurisdiction or, as the case may be, Commercial Division of a High Court may appeal to the Commercial Appellate Division of that High Court within a period of sixty days from the date of the judgment or order.
- Section 2(e) of the Act defines ‘District Judge’: District Judge shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in clause (a) of article 236 of the Constitution of India.
- Article 236 (a) Constitution of India: The expression district judge includes judge of a city civil court, additional district judge, joint district judge, assistant district judge, chief judge of a small cause court, chief presidency magistrate, additional chief presidency magistrate, sessions judge, additional sessions judge and assistant sessions judge.
- Section 4(1) of the Act says that, all in High Courts having ordinary original civil jurisdiction, the Chief Justice of the High Court may, by order, constitute Commercial Division having one or more Benches consisting of a single Judge.
- Section 5(1) of the Act stipulates that after issuing notification under Section 3(1) or order under Section 4(1), the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court shall, by order, constitute Commercial Appellate Division having one or more Division Benches.
- Section 13(2) of the Act stipulates that ‘Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force or Letters Patent of a High Court, no appeal shall lie from any order or decree of a Commercial Division or Commercial Court otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the Act for the purpose of exercising the jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by the Act.’
Thus, Court crystallised it’s analysis observing that there is a mandate by the Act which stipulates that the Commercial Appellate Division shall be constituted of one or more Division Bench in contradiction to the Commercial Division of the High Court which would comprise of a Single Judge of the High Court.
Perusing records from the registry, Court directed all appeals filed under Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, arising out of orders or judgments passed by a Commercial Court at the level of District Judge (including Additional District Judge) exercising Original Civil jurisdiction as “FAO(Comm)” to be listed before the Commercial Appellate Division Benches as per the notified Roster.
Case Title: Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation v. Swadeshi Civil Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
Statute/Law Point involved: Section 5 and 13 of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, Article 236(e) Constitution of India.