Territorial jurisdiction of that Court arises where communication of termination order reaches the employee i.e. legal cause of action is completed

High Court of Delhi: while deciding upon an issue with respect to maintainability of the writ petition on the ground of territorial jurisdiction of the Court, wherein the petitioner had questioned the termination of his contractual services with the respondent, the Bench comprising of Valmiki J. Mehta, J., observed that this Court has no territorial jurisdiction since the legal cause of action is complete only after communication of the order to the petitioner is complete and that would be the place where the territorial jurisdiction arises, and which is Goa in the facts of the present case.

The petitioner, who is a director of Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) at Goa, argued that the Delhi High Court has the territorial jurisdiction since the order of termination was issued by the Ministry to the Chairperson of GSL in Delhi, although the letter had not been communicated to him in Delhi but had been communicated to him in Goa. However, the Ministry argued that this Court did not have the territorial jurisdiction as the cause of action in the present case is the communication of the order and without such communication of an order to the person concerned; the cause of action is not complete for filing of a case in a court of law.

On examining the issue as that whether merely because the Government of India has issued its letter at Delhi would this ipso facto give territorial jurisdiction to this Court although this letter has not been communicated to the petitioner at Delhi and has in fact been communicated to the petitioner at Goa in terms of the subsequent letter, the Court observed that the communication of termination is not complete until and unless a person knows about the order of termination of services being passed, and an employee will only know about an order of termination of services only when it is communicated to him, and therefore, since communication is a compulsory link and a sine qua non for arising of the cause of action, hence cause of action will only be therefore complete for filing of judicial proceedings on communication and therefore the place where the communication is made would be the place where the territorial jurisdiction would exist, although the order of may have been passed elsewhere i.e Delhi in the present case.

The Court relying on Sterling Agro Industries Ltd. v. Union of India, decided on 1.8.2011, held that in order that this court should have territorial jurisdiction, cause of action should have arisen in Delhi and since no part of cause of action has arisen in Delhi in the present case because simply existence of an order in the file of the Government at Delhi does not create any right or liability, and which right or liability is created only on communication of the order, and which was communicated to the petitioner in Goa hence this Court has no territorial jurisdiction and the writ petition is therefore dismissed. [P.K.S. Srivastava v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 6149, decided on 1.12.2016]

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