How to transfer a case from one district court to another?


Since courts operate according to jurisdiction, it is possible to think of jurisdiction as the right of courts, tribunals, judges, etc. to decide a dispute between the parties involved. The determination of jurisdiction is made using the relevant geographic and financial information. 

Can a matter be transferred to another court during an ongoing trial at a court with jurisdiction, though? If so, what is the procedure for requesting a case transfer from one court to another? 

What are the reasons for transferring a case in both criminal and civil matters? All of these issues are discussed here in this article.

According to the jurisdictions described above, a court case is tried. Whether there is room for reform in the trial court depends on whether the current statutes permit it. When a case is transferred from one district to another, the court that was handling the matter will now handle it. A request to transfer a case to a different court frequently follows this.

What is a transfer of a case?

Every petitioner has the right to request a transfer of their case to a court other than the one in which it was initially started, according to the formal laws of procedure defined under the code of civil procedure and the code of criminal procedure. 

The process by which the Indian judiciary is given the freedom to transfer a case from one court to another to further the interests of justice is known as a transfer of a case. 

Courts may utilise this power both on their own initiative and in response to an appropriate application made by parties to a case that outlines the pertinent justifications for doing so.

The Indian judiciary is organised into a hierarchy with courts located all around the country, with the supreme court serving as the highest court of appeal. 

Each person has access to a capable venue through the judiciary to seek conflict settlement and the upholding of their legal rights. This is made possible by the several district courts, tribunals, commissions, and high courts that exercise jurisdiction within their distinct geographic jurisdictions.

This system gives each litigant the right to choose the best venue for their case in order to file a lawsuit, seek restitution, and have their disagreement fairly decided. 

Once a case has been filed in a particular court, it is up to the opposing party, or the defendant, to accept that court's jurisdiction or, in the alternative, file an application to have the matter transferred to a different court that the defendant believes is more suitable.

The procedural law of the country recognises this situation and gives each party the option of asking to have their case transferred to a different court. A defendant may object to the court where they are being sued for a variety of reasons. Both the rules of civil procedure and the code of criminal procedure explicitly allow for the filing of such applications.

Objective of transfer of a case

The judiciary as a whole is held in the highest regard, and it is expected that it would provide highly fair and equitable justice to everyone who comes before it or requests a true resolution of any complaint or grievance. 

The court should always uphold a fair perspective and administer justice in a way that sends a clear message to all parties involved that justice has been done. The judiciary, which is the most revered institution for administering justice, has long held a very rigorous stance on the fairness of trial procedures and trial fairness. 

Therefore, both the civil procedure code and the code of criminal procedure have sufficient justification to move cases from one court to another in order to preserve the good name of the courts and uphold high moral standards among members of the judiciary.

Despite the fact that there are a number of appeals mechanisms, the primary goal of providing justice or deciding a case is to address public emotion. However, such actions would put a great deal of strain on the judicial system, which would then have to deal with more cases that were pending and delayed justice for everyone, which might lead to a rise in discontent and dissatisfaction about the judicial system. Therefore, the statutes already include some provisions regulating the transfer of cases from one court of trial to another court of trial in order to meet all such pressing issues.

Transfer of Civil Cases

The Code of Civil Procedure of 1908, codifies the whole procedural rules governing the admission and adjudication of civil claims. Every action before civil courts under the judiciary is governed by the code of civil procedure, which outlines the norms of procedure from the very beginning through the execution of an order or decree of a civil court. 

The rights of the defendant in a civil action are defined by provisions under the code of civil process, together with the authority of civil courts to transfer cases from one court to another.

The ability to transfer lawsuits that may be filed in multiple courts is covered by Section 22 of the Code of Civil Procedure. This provision relates to matters that can be brought before multiple courts because of shared jurisdiction in some circumstances, as section 22's letter suggests. 

The defendant is therefore granted the right to make an application to the court in question seeking the transfer of the case to one of the other courts where the suit could have been properly instituted, as per section 22, when a suit that can be instituted in any one of two or more courts is actually instituted in one of those courts. 

The clause makes it essential for the defendant in such a case to make such application at the earliest available opportunity and to give adequate and sufficient notice of its application to the plaintiff i.e., the person who instituted the litigation. 

This gives the plaintiff the opportunity to present any objections it may have to the defendant's application before the court decides which of the many courts with jurisdiction the suit must be filed in.

Section 23 of the Code of Civil Procedure supports the previous provision by identifying to which court an application under section 22 seeking transfer of a civil proceeding belongs. Section 23 caters to every contingency by way of three subsections:

Section 23 (1) applies to circumstances where the different courts having authority to try the claim are subordinate to the same appellate court. This provision states that in such a situation, the application under Section 22 shall lie before such common appellate court, which shall determine the court before which the suit must proceed.

Section 23 (2) applies to circumstances where the multiple courts having jurisdiction to try the complaint are subordinate to separate appellate courts but to the same high court. According to this clause, in such a case, the common high court will preside over the application under Section 22 and will decide which court the suit will be brought before.

Finally, cases where multiple courts with jurisdiction are subordinate to various high courts are covered by section 23(3). This provision provides that in such a scenario, the application under section 22 shall lay before the high court, within the local limits of whose jurisdiction, the court in which the complaint is lodged is situated.

A combined grasp of sections 22 and 23 lays out the process for a defendant to submit a request for the transfer of a case and also helps identify the court to whom such a request must be made.

In addition to the aforementioned clauses, the code of civil procedure also gives the district and high courts, as well as the parties involved in the case, a general right to transfer and withdraw lawsuits. 

A high court and district court may, at any time during the course of the proceedings, order the transfer of any suit, appeal, or proceeding that is pending before them to any court subordinate to them, according to Section 24, which enshrines this general power.

A district court or high court may remove any lawsuit, appeal, or proceeding that is pending in any court below it in addition to issuing an order of transfer, and may also:

· Attempt to dispose of it yourself, or

· Send the case to any other competent court below it for review and disposition; or

· Retransfer the case to the court from which it was originally withdrawn for trial and resolution.

Therefore, an application can also be brought by any person engaged with a case apart from the defendant alone to request transfer of a matter for grounds indicated therein. Additionally, the district court and the high court have the authority to transfer or withdraw cases from any courts below them on their own initiative, or suo motu.

The code of civil procedure also establishes an autonomous right for the supreme court of the judiciary under Section 25 to order the transfer of a matter, in addition to the authority of the high courts and the lower judiciary. 

As per this rule, any party to a suit, following notice to the other parties can bring out an application before the supreme court requesting transfer of the matter from a high court or a civil court situated in one state, to a high court or civil court in another state. 

The application can be submitted in relation to any litigation, appeal, or proceeding that is ongoing in a court under it, and the supreme court must provide sufficient opportunity for all parties to be heard for and against granting the request. 

The supreme court may also order the applicant to pay costs in favour of the parties opposing the application while dismissing it under Section 25. Section 25 further stipulates that all such applications must be supported by an affidavit.

Transfer of Criminal Cases

The primary Indian law governing how substantive criminal law is administered in our country is the code of criminal procedure. It outlines the process and offers the tools necessary for crime investigation, evidence gathering, arrest and detention, as well as the myriad procedural details involved in a trial that determine an accused person's guilt or innocence. 

Because of this, much like the code of civil procedure, the code of criminal procedure, which is covered in detail below, also outlines the procedure and rights related to the transfer of criminal cases.

The law governing the transfer of cases, which is comprised of sections 406 to 412, is codified in Chapter XXXI of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The supreme court's authority to transfer criminal cases and appeals is covered by Section 406. 

According to this clause, the attorney general of India or a party with an interest in the case must apply to the supreme court for it to take action before it can order the transfer of a criminal case. 

In order to obtain a transfer order under Section 406, a petitioner must persuade the Supreme Court that doing so is necessary to uphold the interests of justice. 

The supreme court may issue an order transferring the case from one high court to another high court, or from a criminal court subordinate to one high court to another criminal court of equal or superior jurisdiction subordinate to another high court, if it is satisfied with the reasons outlined in the application. 

If the supreme court determines that an application is frivolous or vexatious, it may also compel the applicant to pay an amount as compensation to the opposing parties while dismissing the application.

Similar to this, Section 407 gives the high court the authority to transfer criminal cases and appeals from one court under its jurisdiction to any other court within its jurisdiction. 

The high court has the authority to remove cases from courts within its jurisdiction and conduct independent trials in addition to directing the transfer of cases. The Article also specifies the grounds for submitting a transfer request, which are:

· when it believes that no criminal court under its jurisdiction can conduct an investigation in a fair and unbiased manner; or

· that a legal issue of significant difficulty is probably going to come up; or

· That a court order pursuant to this section is necessary in order to comply with any provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, would be in the best interests of the parties or witnesses generally, or would further the interests of justice.

On its own initiative, in response to a lower court's report, or even in response to an application by a party with an interest in the matter, the high court may exercise this provision. 

When dismissing frivolous and vexatious applications, the high court may also impose costs on the applicant in favour of the opposing party as compensation.

The sessions judge's authority to transfer criminal cases and appeals is codified in Section 408 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The session judge is given the authority to transfer cases between subordinate courts within its sessions division under this rule, which is similar to the authority of the high court. 

It may decide to transfer the case on its own initiative, in response to a request by a party with an interest in the matter, or in response to a lower court's report. For purposes of an application under this article before a sessions judge, the criteria and process are the identical as those under section 407 for the high court.

According to Section 409 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the sessions judge has the authority to recall cases and appeals from subordinate courts within its sessions division, try the cases themselves, or transfer the cases to any other subordinate court for trial or hearing in accordance with the code.

Sections 410 and 411 of the Code of Criminal Procedure similarly eliminate the transfer and withdrawal powers given to judicial judges and executive magistrates in order to cater to the powers of transfer at each level of the judiciary.

The last requirement under section 411 of this chapter requires sessions judges and magistrates who issue any orders under sections 408-411 to document their justifications.

Grounds permitting transfer of case from one court to another The following grounds are among the several that the law recognises as being sufficient to order the transfer of a matter from one court to another.

1. Justice: Upholding the goals of justice is the main justification for transferring cases from one court to another. This one ground has broad implications and guarantees that any factual matrix requiring a transfer order is established in the interests of justice. 

In a variety of situations and facts, it guarantees justice for all plaintiffs. This gives the judiciary broad discretionary powers to ensure that wherever it is seen appropriate to uphold the interests of justice, the courts have the authority to issue a transfer order without being constrained by the legislation.

2. Inquiry reports from higher judicial officers: These reports are a legitimate basis for requesting an order of transfer when they lay forth compelling arguments against allowing the continuation of a trial in a particular forum.

3. The report or opinion of a trial court: Such a report deeming transfer of a matter essential owing to participation of a serious legal issue that would be better suited to a court of superior jurisdiction, is a valid ground.

4. Corruption: The suspicion of corruption and/or collaboration by a party to the case, which would make the legal process pointless in a particular venue, is another reason for transferring a case.

5. Another reason to request that a case be transferred to another impartial court is strained or dishonest relationships between the advocate, a court officer, or a judicial officer.

6. Another reason to ask for the transfer of a matter is that it would be more convenient for the parties if it were tried in a different court.

The nature of the trial, the relief, or the situation of the subject may not alter when a case is transferred from one court to another, but the adoption of such provisions by the legislature and the judiciary leaves a profound effect on the subject about the idea of equity and moral rectitude. The litigating parties would be guaranteed of receiving justice if cases were transferred from one court to another.