Place of accessing web-based communication does not confer jurisdiction on High Court

Kerala High Court: Deciding upon the maintainability of the petition, it was held that High Court cannot asume jurisdiction based on the mere fact that the alleged cause of action was communicated online through the website and it was accessed in Kerala since none of the facts leading to conferment of a cause of action on the petitioner could be traced to anywhere within the territorial jurisdiction of the Kerala High Court.
The petitioner, an eminent scientist and recipient of prestigious awards worked in the Department of Space from its very inception and headed ISRO for several years. The Government of India issued orders terminating his tenure as Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor in the Department of Space/ISRO as on the ground that an agreement entered into by the petitioner and others cast a shadow on his post reflecting on his credibility. Along with 4 others, he was blacklisted on the basis of a committee’s report which recommended that he be divested of current assignment/consultancy and further be excluded from re-employment, inclusion in committees or any other role under the government.
The Court observed that the mere fact that the petitioner was made aware of the impugned orders only through the website, at Kerala would not be sufficient to confer jurisdiction. To assume jurisdiction on such pleading would be specious, since then with the accessibility to the website through the internet, the petitioner could as well plead that the same was accessed anywhere in India to confer jurisdiction on any High Court within the territories of India. The Court held that it is not as if the petitioner does not have a remedy before the appropriate forum and the Court not having examined any facts leading to the impugned orders, he would not be curtailed in invoking such remedy before the appropriate court. [G. Madhavan Nair v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 327, decided on February 10, 2016]

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