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Jurisdiction Of Criminal Courts In Inquiries And Trial

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:
    According to, Section 2(g) it is every request other than a trial, investigated by a Magistrate or Court. Which means, every inquiry, which does not come under the definition of trial, which is looked into by either the court of a Magistrate, or by any other Court so authorized under the Code Of Criminal Procedure. This means and includes all those proceedings before framing of charges.

    It can be conducted either by a Magistrate or before a Court. These proceedings do not result in conviction or acquittal. It can only result in discharge or commitment of trial. It refers to everything done before the trial begins. Trial begins where inquiry ends. The object of inquiry is to identify whether the allegations are sustainable or not.
  • Local Jurisdiction:
    Section 2(j) defines it as the local area within which a court or Magistrate can exercise all or any of its or his power under this Code.
  • Trial:
    The trial commences when the inquiry stage comes to an end. It is the most important and the third part of a judicial proceeding. It is the process by which the guilt or innocence of an allegation on a person is ascertained.

Jurisdiction Of The Criminal Courts In Inquiries And Trial

It comes under Chapter XIII from Section 177 to 189 and this chapter does not lies with chapter VIII, IX, X.

Sec 177- Ordinance place of inquiry and trial- It states that ordinarily inquiry of every offence shall be done by the court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed. The word 'ordinary' means normally and it is used here to suggest that this provision is not imperative, and the place of trial and inquiry can be changed.

Nasiruddin Khan V. State of Bihar (1973):

In this case, a member of Bihar Military Police (Nasiruddin) left without informing officer and went home in Patna. He take defence that headquater of where he was working was in Kashmir and so no case can be filed in Patna, it does not has jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held that the trial at Patna was not vitiated. Therefore, his defence was rejected and said that there is no provision that case can not be filed in Patna, it can.

Section 178- Place of Inquiry or Trial:

  1. when the place of offence committed is uncertain, or
  2. where an offence is committed partly at one place and patly at another, or
  3. where an offence is a continuous one, which continued to be committed in more than one area, or
  4. 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.
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.

Mangal Das RR V. State of Maharashtra (1966):

Supreme Court held that, if of any case proceeding were taken in wrong court or place and decision was given, than the case will not get dismisss on the basis that the court was not having the jurisdiction. It is only if both the parties was not having knowledge and filed a case in wrong court.

Section 179: Offence Triable Where Act Is Done Or Consequences:
It 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.

Section 180: Place of trial, when an act is an offence by its relation with another offence:

It 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.

A charge of abetment may be inquired into or tried either in a Court where the abetment was committed, or where offence committed through abettment. A charge of receiving stolen goods may be inquired or trial where goods were stolen or place where goods were received by someone or retained dishonestly.

Section 181- Place of trial in certain offences - It 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.
  5. Any offence which includes the possession of stolen property may be inquired into or tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed or the stolen property was possessed by any person who received or retained it knowing or having reason to believe it to be stolen property.

Section 182- Offences committed by letters

  1. It 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.
  2. 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.

Section 183 - Offences committed on a journey or voyage:

It 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.

Here the word 'Journey' refers to a single or long piece of travel and 'voyage' refer to a long journey mainly to a distant place or foreign place especially by the sea.

Section 184- Place of trial for offences triable together:

It 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.

Section 185- Power to order cases to be tried in different session divisions
It 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.

Section 186- High Court to decide, in case of doubt, district where inquiry or trial shall take place

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:
  1. The High Court will decide if the Courts are subordinate to that High Court.
  2. 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.

Section 187- Power to issue summons or warrant for offence committed beyond local jurisdiction:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Section 188- Offences committed outside India:

It 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- Receipt of evidence relating to offences committed outside India- 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.

Landmark Judgements
  • 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.

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.

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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