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Jurisdiction of the Criminal Courts in Inquires and Trial under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

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Jurisdiction of the Criminal Courts in Inquires and Trial

Jurisdiction of the Criminal Courts in Inquires and Trial (Sec. 177 – 189)

Introduction

  • The basic rule of this chapter is contained under section 177, which provides that every offence shall be tried by the Court in whose local jurisdiction it takes place.
  • The subsequent section i.e., Ss. 178 – 188 enlarge the ambit of the ‘local jurisdiction’.
  • It is intended to minimize the inconvenience that might be caused by strict adherence to the basic rule contained u/s. 177.
  • It is further intended to facilitate the prosecution of offenders by providing a wider choice of Courts for initiating the inquiry or trial.
  • It is to be noted that an accused has no vested right to be tried by a particular Court or procedure.

Sec. 177 – Ordinary place of inquiry and trial.

Scope and Application

  • The basic rule regarding jurisdiction of Courts is contained u/s. 177.
  • Crimes are in their nature local; and the jurisdiction of Criminal Courts is local.
  • As a general rule, A Magistrate in whose local jurisdiction the offence has taken place is authorized to take cognizance and either try the case or commit it to the Court of Sessions.
  • The territorial jurisdiction of the police station for the purpose of investigation is co-extensive with the jurisdiction of the Court to try the offence.

Case LawSukhjinder Singh v. State (NCT Delhi)

Criminal proceedings in respect of the same offence cannot be allowed to be continued in more than one Court.

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Meaning of the term ‘Ordinarily’

  • The word ‘ordinarily’ used in S.177 shall be taken to mean that the rule contained u/s. 177 shall be subject to exceptions carved out under the proceeding section i.e., 178 to 188.
  • So ‘Ordinarily’ means that the provision is a general one and it must be subject to special provision in the CrPC.

Effect of change in Territorial Jurisdiction of the Court

  • If a Court takes cognizance of an offence by resorting to power u/s. 177, thereafter the jurisdiction of such Court changes, a question arises, whether the Court will lose the power to try such case, from thereon.
  • It has been held that the change in jurisdiction of the Court to try such offence shall remain unaffected by any subsequent change in the territorial jurisdiction of the Court.

*The trial shall commence only after determination of the question of jurisdiction to try the case.

*The place of occurrence is the criteria to determine the jurisdiction and not the place where the head office of a particular company is situated.

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Sec. 178 – Place of inquiry or trial.

(Rules to cover cases where the basic rule is difficult to apply.)

Scope

  • S.178 provides the procedure to determine the jurisdiction when there is a conflict between different areas, and there might be a doubt as to which Magistrate has the jurisdiction to try the case.
  • It provides for the following four contingencies:
  • When it is uncertain in which of several areas an offence is committed;
  • Where an offence is committed partly in one local area and partly in another;
  • Where an offence is a continuing one, and continues to be committed in more local areas than one;
  • Where an offence consists of several acts done in different local areas.

Facts which determine the place of trial

  • Averments in the complaint.
  • Where the main offence is committed.
  • Where the witnesses are present.
  • Where evidence is readily available.
  • Other facts important for more effective investigation of the offence alleged to have occurred.

A. Uncertainty

  • When there is an uncertainty as to in which local area did the offence take place or district, in such a case Courts of both the jurisdictions are competent to try the matter.
  • The term ‘local area’ means the area to which the code applies and not any foreign area.

B. Offence committed partly in one local area and partly in other.

  • If an offence is commenced within local jurisdiction of one Court and is completed within local jurisdiction of another Court, such an offence may be tried by either of the two Courts.

C. Continuing Offence

  • A conspiracy to commit an offence is a continuing offence.
  • Travelling without a valid passport is a continuing offence.
  • The offence of abduction is a continuing offence, but not that of kidnapping.

D. Several acts constituting the offence done in different local areas.

  • Where an offence is committed in different local areas, all the Courts having jurisdiction over such local areas can try the offence.

Offence u/s. 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act – “Cheque Bounce Cases”

  • There are five components of an offence u/s. 138 of the NI Act, mentioned as follows:
  • Drawing of Cheque;
  • Presentation of Cheque to the drawee bank;
  • Returning the Cheque unpaid by the drawee bank;
  • Giving notice in writing to the drawer of the Cheque demanding payment of the Cheque amount;
  • Failure of drawer to make payment within 15 days of the receipt of the notice.
  • The complainant can choose any of the aforesaid local areas within the territorial limits of which any of those five acts are done and can launch prosecution.

Sec. 179 – Offence triable where act is done or consequence ensues (followed).

Scope

  • Under this section the following two Courts would have the jurisdiction to try the case:
  • The Court within whose local limits the act amounting to the offence has been done; or
  • The Court within whose local limits the consequences of such act have ensued.
  • Therefore Sec. 179 contemplates two Courts who have jurisdiction, however the trial is permitted to take place only in one of them.
  • The act contemplated under this section becomes an offence due to a cumulative effect of the things done and the consequence which follows.

‘A Consequence of the Act’

  • The consequence shall not be a mere result of the act.
  • It shall form the essential ingredient to constitute such an offence.
  • Thus, if the offence is complete in itself by reason of the act and the consequence is a mere result thereof, this section would not be applicable.
  • Illustration – In a case of cruelty on wife (498A), the husband kicked his pregnant wife and she suffered a miscarriage at her parents’ house. Therefore, the consequences of the act i.e., his wife suffering miscarriage on account of his kicking her ensued at a different jurisdiction. Thus, the Court of such local limits would also have the jurisdiction to try the case.

Sec. 180 – place of trial where act is offence by reason of relation to other offence.

  • this section applies to cases where the offence which committed, qualifies/amounts to be an offence because of another offence taking place.
  • The appropriate example of such a case would be an ‘offence of abetment’ and ‘commission of the offence that is abetted’.
  • A charge of abetment may be inquired into or tried:
  • Either by the Court within whose local jurisdiction the abetment was committed; or
  • By the Court within whose local jurisdiction the offence abetted, was committed.

*The offence abetted must have been committed in the Indian Territory.

Sec. 181 – Place of trial in case of certain specific cases.

Being a Thug, Dacoity, Escaping from Custody (Sub. Sec. 1)

  • Sec. 181(1) includes the following:
  • Being a thug;
  • Murder by a thug;
  • Dacoity;
  • Dacoity with murder;
  • Gang of dacoits;
  • Escaping from custody.
  • This rule is intended to cover the case of an accused moving from one local area to another area.
  • It refers to the alternative jurisdiction as to the place where the accused person is found.

Kidnapping and Abduction

  • Where a girl was kidnapped from Delhi and a case was registered and the victim was brought to Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Police cannot refuse to Register the case.

Theft, Extortion, Robbery

  • The offence of theft, extortion or robbery, or the possession of stolen property which was the object of the offence can be tried by a Magistrate within whose jurisdiction either of the two offences is committed.

Criminal misappropriation, Criminal breach of trust

The following Court will have the Jurisdiction to try the offence of criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust:

  1. Where the act constituting the offence took place;
  2. Where the property is found.

Sec. 182 – Offences committed by letters, Cheating, Bigamy.

Cheating – S.182(1)

  • Section 182 contemplates the commission of offence of cheating by the following means:
  • By means of letters or telecommunication.
  • By dishonestly inducing delivery of property.
  • By means of letters or telecommunicationWhere an offence which includes cheating is practiced by means of letters of telecommunication messages the case can be inquired into and tried either:
  • By the Magistrate from whose jurisdiction such letter or message originated; or
  • By the Magistrate in whose jurisdiction they were received.
  • By dishonestly inducing delivery of property – Where an offence of cheating is practiced by inducing delivery of property, the cases can be inquired or tried by:
  • By the Magistrate where such property is delivered; or
  • By the Magistrate in whose jurisdiction the property is received.

Bigamy – S.182(2)

In case of Bigamy the following Courts will have the jurisdiction to inquire and try the case:

  1. In whose jurisdiction, the offence is committed i.e., the second marriage is entered into during sustenance of first marriage.
  2. In whose jurisdiction, the offender last-resided.

Sec. 183 – Offences committed on journey or voyage.

  • In cases where the offences are committed on a voyage or during a journey, it might get difficult to ascertain the exact place/local limits of jurisdiction where the offence was actually committed.
  • Therefore Sec. 183 is intended to give various alternatives.
  • The journey or voyage does not include voyage on high seas or in foreign territory.
  • The journey or voyage shall be continuous and uninterrupted.
  • Generally, in such cases, the Court where the journey or voyage terminates shall be the place of trial or inquiry.

Sec. 184 – Place of trial for offences triable together.

The Court may inquire into and try the following offences or several persons together:

  1. If the offences committed by any person are such that they can be charged with and tried at one trial, in consonance of the provisions u/s. 219, 220 or 221 CrPC.
  2. If the offence or offences are committed by several persons are such that they may be charged with, and tried together by virtue of the provisions of Section 223 CrPC.

Sec. 185 – Power to order cases to be tried in different sessions divisions.

  • This Section confers extraordinary powers on the State Government to order cases or class of cases to be tried in any sessions divisions.
  • Such power of the State Government shall be exercised in way that it is not repugnant to any direction previously issued by the High Court or the Supreme Court under the Constitution.
  • For instance, where the State Government has set up a Special Court for trial of cases investigated by CBI all over the State, only the Special Court has jurisdiction to try such cases.

Sec. 186 – High Court to decide in case of doubt.

  • In case two or more Courts have taken cognizance qua the same offence, in such the following procedure shall be followed to decide as to which Court shall try the case:
  • If the both the Courts are subordinate to one High Court, then such High Court shall decide the question of jurisdiction.
  • If the Courts are not subordinate to one High Court, then such High Court shall decide the question of jurisdiction, within whose appellate criminal jurisdiction the proceedings were first commenced.
  • It only applies to cases which arise out of the same transaction or same occurrence and are common and the parties are same.
  • It cannot be applied when both the cases are entirely different on facts.

Sec. 187 – Power to issue summons or warrant for offence committed beyond local jurisdiction.

  • Sec. 187 empowers the Magistrate of first class (JMIC) to issue summons or warrants to a person:
  • Who has been suspected to have committed an offence; and
  • Such offence is triable by a Court outside the jurisdiction of JMIC/where the person is found.
  • Such Magistrate cannot take cognizance of the offence by any chance.
  • He can only compel the person to appear before him and bind him to appear before the Magistrate who will have the jurisdiction to inquire into the offence.
  • The power given to a Magistrate u/s. 187 is available in respect of cognizable and non-cognizable offence.
  • For instance, if an accused is wanted for an offence in ‘A’ District and he is absconding and subsequently found in ‘Z’ District, in such case the Magistrate of ‘Z’ District may use the powers u/s. 187 to issue summon or warrants to such accused and order him to appear before the Magistrate of ‘A’ District.

Sec. 188 – Offence committed outside India.

Scope

  • The Sec. 188 provides for extra – territorial jurisdiction over Indian Citizens and also of non-citizens.
  • It specifies two cases in which a person is triable for offences committed out of India namely:
  • When an Indian Citizen commits an offence in any place either on the High seas or elsewhere; and
  • When any person, not being such citizen, commits an offence on any ship or aircraft registered in India.
  • Where offence is committed outside India, case can be registered/investigated in India, refusal to do so is illegal.

Sanction of the State Government

  • In order to inquire or try such a matter u/s. 188 the previous sanction of the State Government is required.
  • However, such sanction is not required at pre-inquiry stage.

Case laws

In the case of Rajesh Gupta v. State of Andhra Pradesh, the entire occurrence took place in the United States of America (U.S.A). The allegations contained in the complaint were also regarding the occurrence in U.S.A. therefore it was held as follows:

“In such circumstances cognizance of the offence taken by Magistrate without the previous sanction of Central Government would be bad in law in view of Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1972”

In the case of Karthick Theodre v. Statewhere the accused was convicted and sentenced for offence under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 the question that arose in the appeal was whether the prosecution of the Accused/Appellant in India was justified when the offence committed in Sydney, Australia. The court while acquitting the accused of all the charges held as follows:

“…if the trial held in the place where the offence was committed, then both sides will have fair opportunity to examine the witnesses. By conducting the trial in India for alleged offence that took place in Australia, accused was seriously prejudiced.”

Sec. 189 – Receipt of Evidence relating to offences committed outside India.

  • When any offence is being inquired into or tried by a Court u/s. 188, it may require the evidence to be produced before it, from the Court in whose jurisdiction such offence took place.
  • Such evidence may include:
  • Copies of depositions;
  • Exhibits; etc.

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