In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court dismissed a Leave to Appeal (LPA) petition against the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), citing the issue’s lack of direct relation to the Board. The judicial bench, headed by the Chief Justice and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, emphasized the doctrine of forum conveniens, emphasizing its critical role in determining the most appropriate forum for dispute resolution.
The petitioner had referred to Clause 18.3.2 of the CBSE Affiliation Bye-Laws to assert that the Board’s legal jurisdiction for addressing claims was confined to Delhi. However, the court rebutted this argument, contending that a strict interpretation of this clause might potentially overshadow the importance of the forum conveniens principle.
The court reiterated that this specific clause should only encompass cases where the crux of the issue directly linked to CBSE, underscoring it as the pivotal factor for invoking this jurisdictional clause.
The crux of the case emerged from the appellant, a student at a CBSE-affiliated school in Uttar Pradesh, being barred from attendance due to unpaid fees. Subsequently, the appellant filed a writ petition seeking redress. The court, in interim directives, mandated the school to conduct Grade VII-VIII exams, which the appellant successfully cleared. However, the appellant sought compensation from CBSE for being held back in Class VII for two academic years, thus initiating the LPA.
The court referenced the M/s Sterling Agro Industries Ltd v. Union of India & Ors case, which reflected that territorial jurisdiction in Delhi was perceived primarily due to CBSE’s headquarters in the area. The initial single judge had dismissed the petition based on non-conveniens grounds, citing that the primary reason for territorial jurisdiction in Delhi was the presence of CBSE’s headquarters in the area.
The appellant contended In the LPA that the delay in conducting Grade VIII examinations was the crux of the issue. This, according to the appellant, linked the cause of action to Delhi, rendering the Delhi High Court the most suitable forum for adjudication.
However, the Bench concluded that the essential issue related to the claim for compensation stemmed from the delayed Grade VIII examinations. Given that the school was responsible for conducting these exams, the primary aspect of the cause of action occurred in Uttar Pradesh, where the school was situated.
In their determination, the court alluded to the Shristi Udaipur Hotels v. Housing and Urban Development Corp case, highlighting the negligible significance of a respondent’s registered office in Delhi in determining territorial jurisdiction when it constituted a minor part of the cause of action.
Ultimately, the court found that the Delhi High Court wasn’t the most appropriate forum for adjudication, leading to the dismissal of the LPA.