judgement
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This article is written by Sushant Agrawal, currently pursuing B.A.LLB (Hons) from the Department of Law, Aligarh Muslim University. This is an exhaustive article which deals with Jurisdiction of the Courts as regards the place of inquiry and trial under CrPC.

Introduction

When an act is done, which is an offence in the eyes of law, the first question arises in the mind of the investigating authorities is where will this offence be inquired? Only the court within whose local jurisdiction the offence is committed can try the case?

Here, we will discuss these questions in detail. But, before focusing directly into this, understanding the meaning of these important terms will be helpful.

Inquiry: As per Section 2(g) inquiry is every request other than a trial, investigated by a Magistrate or Court.

Local Jurisdiction: Section 2(j) defines local jurisdiction as the local area within which a court or Magistrate can exercise all or any of its or his power under this Code. 

Now, let’s start.

Ordinary Place of Inquiry and Trial

Section 177 of CrPC postulates that ordinarily inquiry of every offence shall be done by the court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed. The word ordinary used here is to suggest that this provision is not imperative, and the place of trial and inquiry can be changed.

Place of Inquiry or Trial 

Section 178 of CrPC says that:

(a) when the place of offence committed is uncertain, or  

(b) where an offence is committed partly at one place and patly at another, or 

(c) where an offence is a continuous one, which continued to be committed in more than one area, or 

(d) where an act which consists of several acts done in different areas, then that offence may be inquired into and tried by any court having jurisdiction over any such areas.

Illustration

A terrorist attack was planned in Delhi, money contracted was given in Faridabad, guns and grenades were supplied in Bangalore and the offence was committed in Mumbai. Now in this situation, it is very difficult to find out the actual place of offence as it involves various offences. Here, with the application of section 178 of Cr.P.C, the accused may be inquired into or tried by any court within whose local jurisdiction any offence was committed. 

Place of trial, when the place of an offence committed and consequences ensued are different

Section 179 of Cr.P.C says that when an act is an offence by any reason committed at one place but its consequences occurred at another place, then the offence may be inquired into or tried by any court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed or the consequence ensued.

Illustration

A was hit by a truck in Gurugram and died in the hospital of Delhi. Here, the place of offence is Gurugram whereas the consequence i.e. death was taken in place in Delhi. The offence may be inquired into or tried by any court of either area by virtue of section 179.

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Place of trial, when an act is an offence by its relation with another offence

Section 180 says that when an act is an offence by reason of its relation with another offence or would be an offence if the doer is capable of committing that offence, then the first mentioned offence may be inquired into or tried by any court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed.

Illustration

A charge of abetment may be inquired into or tried either in a Court where the offence of abetment was committed, or the abetted offence was committed.

Place of trial in certain offences

Section 181 of CrPC laid down following place of trial in certain offences:

  1. An offence of thug with or without murder or, of dacoity with or without murder or, of association with a gang of dacoits, or dodge the custody, may be inquired into or tried in a court where the offence was committed or the person is found.
  2. An offence of kidnapping/abduction may be inquired into or tried in a court where the person was kidnapped/abducted or, where the person is hidden, passed or kept.
  3.  An offence of theft, robbery or, extortion may be inquired into or tried in a court where the offence was committed or the stolen property was recovered from the possession of the offender or by any person who knew or had a reason to believe that the property he received or retained is stolen property.
  4. An offence of criminal misappropriation or, of criminal breach of trust may be inquired into or tried in a court where that offence was committed or any part of the property was received or retained by the accused.

Places of the trail for various offences

The spot of trial for various offences are as follows:

  • Offences committed by letters.
  • Offences committed on a journey or voyage.
  • Offences committed outside India.

Offences committed by letters

Section 182(1) of Cr.P.C provides that an offence which includes cheating is practised by means of letters or telecommunication messages, may be inquired into or tried in a court from where such letters or messages were sent or were received, or if, there is an offence of dishonesty inducement for the delivery of the property, then it may be inquired into or tried in a court from where the property was delivered by the deceived person or was received by the accused.

Section 182(2) of CrPC provides that any offence punishable under section 494 and 495 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 may be inquired into or tried in a court where the offence was committed or the offender last resided with his/her companion by first marriage or wife by first marriage has taken up a permanent residence after the commission of the offence.

Offences committed on a journey or voyage

Section 183 of Cr.P.C provides that when an offence is committed by a person or against a person or the thing in respect of which the said offence was committed, in a continuous journey or voyage, then that offence may be inquired into or tried in a court wherefrom the person or that thing was passed throughout the journey or voyage.

Offences committed outside India

Section 188 of CrPC provides that any offence committed by a citizen of India on high seas or elsewhere or, by a non- citizen on any Indian registered aircraft or ship may be inquired into or tried in a court where the person will be found. Provided that such offence shall be inquired into or tried by any court in India, only after the prior approval of the Central Government.

Section 189 of CrPC: If the Central Government thinks fit, can direct to deliver the duplicates of the depositions that were produced before a judicial officer or diplomatic or consular representative of India, to the court conducting such inquiry or trial, shall receive it as evidence of the offence committed.

Place of trial for offences triable together

Section 184 of CrPC provides that if several offences were committed by one person, then he can be tried at one trial by virtue of Section 219, 220 and 221

And, the offence or offences committed by several people such that, they may be tried by virtue of section 223, maybe inquire into or trial in a court competent to inquire into or try any such offences committed.

Powers of State Government to decide Jurisdiction

Section 185 of CrPC empowered the State Government to direct any case or class of cases for an inquiry into or trial in any session division of any district. Provided that such direction is not contrary to any previously given direction by the High Court or the Supreme Court or, not in violation of any law for being in force.

Powers of High Court to decide Jurisdiction

Section 186 of CrPC: When the same offence was tried by two or more courts, then a question of cognizance will arise as to which court ought to inquire into or try that offence:

(a) The High Court will decide if the Courts are subordinate to that High Court.

(b) The Court which has commenced the proceedings first will inquire into or try that offence if the Courts are not subordinate to the same High Court. Therefore, all other proceedings will be discontinued.

Place of trial for offences committed beyond local jurisdiction

Section 187(1) of CrPC: When a first-class Magistrate has a reason to believe that a person living within his local jurisdiction has committed an offence (which is not inquire into or tried within the provisions of Section 177 to 185, both inclusive) outside his jurisdiction (within or outside India), then such Magistrate may inquire into the offence in the same manner as that offence was committed within his jurisdiction.

Section 187(2) CrPC: if more than one first-class magistrate is having such jurisdiction, then the High Court will take the cognizance of the case and decide the jurisdiction.

                   

Landmark Judgments

Mohan Baitha and Ors. Vs. State of Bihar and Anr. (2001)

In this case, the complainant, father of the deceased narrated the chain of events in his complaint petition as his daughter soon after her marriage was subjected to cruelty by her husband for dowry. She died within three years of her marriage. The complaint was filed in the Patna High Court whereas the offence was committed in Uttar Pradesh. The accused were held liable under Section 304B, 34 and 406 of the IPC. They appealed in the Supreme Court pleaded that the Patna High Court lacks territorial jurisdiction in this case as the offence was committed in Uttar Pradesh.

The court relied upon Section 220 of CrPC, which says more than one offence committed by the same person can be tried at one trial. The offence of criminal breach of trust (Section 406 of the IPC) was committed at Patna. So, Section 304B of the IPC can be held under Section 220 of Cr.P.C and can be tried along with 406 of the IPC at Patna High Court. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Smt. Sujata Mukherjee Vs. Prashant Kumar Mukherjee (1997)

In this case, the appellant was maltreated and humiliated by her in-laws on account of dowry demands in her in-laws’ house at Rajgarh and also by her husband at her parent’s house at Raipur. A complaint was filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate under Section 498A, 506B and 323 of the IPC. The respondents stated before the Court that all the accused other than husband humiliated the appellant at Rajgarh. So, the Chief Judicial Magistrate has no territorial jurisdiction to try the offence on all accused other than the husband who has also assaulted the appellant at Raipur. This plea was rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate but was appreciated by the High Court and ordered to transfer the case of all accused other than the husband’s case to Rajgarh.

The appellant came before the Supreme Court challenging the order of the High Court. The appellant has alleged that she was subjected to persistent cruel treatment first at Rajgarh and then at Raipur. So, the incidents that took place at Raipur is not isolated one, rather consequential to the series of the incident happened at Rajgarh. Section 178(c) of the Cr.P.C is attracted as maltreatment and humiliation was a continuous offence, on some occasions some accused have taken part and on others on the respondent have taken part. Therefore, the impugned judgement of the High Court was set aside and directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate to proceed with the case.   

State of Punjab v. Nohar Chand (1984)

In this case, the respondent is a manufacturer of fertilizers at Ludhiana. One day, the Fertilizer Inspector visited the respondent’s agent shop situated at Kapurthala and obtained a sample of the fertilizer. The samples were to be substandard. A criminal complaint was filed before Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kapurthala against both, the manufacturer and his agent. They were found guilty and charges were framed against them. The respondent challenged the order before the High Court alleging that the Chief Judicial Magistrate has no territorial jurisdiction to try him because the manufacturing of the fertilizers has been carried out at Ludhiana. The High Court appreciated the view of the respondent and set aside the conviction made by the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court. Manufacturing of substandard fertilizer is an offence and marketing of that substandard fertilizer is, however, a distinct offence but they are interconnected as cause and effect and can be tried at one place, as per Section 179 and 180 of CrPC Thus, the order of the High Court was quashed and the judgement of the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kapurthala was restored.

Kuljeet Singh @ Jeetu and Others v. Central Bureau of Investigation and Others (2000)

In this case, Indian Ambassadors in Athens (Greece) reported that around 170 Indians were feared drowned in a boat tragedy, which occurred in the High Seas of Malta Sicily Channel. Accordingly, the charge sheet was filed and the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi took the cognizance of the offence.

Subsequently, four separate criminal complaints of this boat tragedy were also registered in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Distt. Hoshiarpur (Punjab). Now, the High Court of Delhi has to decide which Court had the jurisdiction to try this case.

The High Court of Delhi is of the opinion that the cognizance of the matter was first taken by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi and then, by the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Distt. Hoshiarpur (Punjab). As per Section 186 (b) of Cr.P.C which says if two or more Courts have taken the cognizance of the same offence and also are not subordinate to the same High Court, then the Court, who has taken the cognizance first, will try the case. That’s why in this situation, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi alone is competent to inquire into or try the offence.

Om Hemrajani v. State of U.P. and Anr. (2004)

In this case, the respondent, a Dubai based bank filed a complaint against the petitioner that he has obtained loans from the bank on a personal guarantee. But instead of discharging his liabilities, the petitioner fled away. The petitioner was found in Ghaziabad. Magistrate of Ghaziabad took cognizance of the offence and issued non- bailable warrants against him. The petitioner sought quashing of the order of the Magistrate on the contention that no course of action will arise as the Court at Ghaziabad has no territorial jurisdiction to inquire into or try the offence committed in Dubai. The High Court rejected the contention on the basis of Section 188 of CrPC.

The accused filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court challenging the order given by the High Court. The Court observed that when a citizen of India committed an offence outside India, then as per section 188 Cr.P.C, he shall be tried in a Court within whose local jurisdiction he may be found. Therefore, the order of the High Court is maintainable.

Conclusion

We have discussed that place of offence and inquiry is not necessarily the same. It depends upon the circumstances in which the offence is committed. Section 177 to 189 of Cr.P.C deals with almost all possible circumstances in which an offence can be committed. However, under normal circumstances, a Court shall inquire only those offences that are committed within their jurisdiction.

But there are certain cases when the Court takes cognizance of those offences that are committed outside their jurisdiction or, where an offence tried by more than one Court or, an offence committed by Indian citizen in a foreign country and so on. Such cases have been dealt with explicitly in CrPC, the Court shall begin with the proceedings only after referring to the Code of Criminal Procedure.


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