Criminal

Jurisdiction of criminal court in inquiry and trials

Chapter-XIII of 1973 deals with the jurisdiction of criminal court in inquiry and trials. Sections 177, 178 and 179 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are relevant which are as follows:–

177. Ordinary place of inquiry and trial.–Every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed.

178. Place of inquiry or trial.–(a) When it is uncertain in which of several local areas an offence was committed, or

(b) where an offence is committed partly in one local area and partly in another, or

(c) where an offence is a continuing one, and continues to be committed in more local areas than one, or

(d) where it consists of several acts done in different local areas, it may be inquired into or tried by a Court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas.

179. Offence triable where act is done or consequence ensues.–When an act is an offence by reason of anything which has been done and of a consequence which has ensued, the offence may be inquired into or tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction such thing has been done or such consequence has ensued.

From the above provisions, it is clear that normal rule is that the offence has ordinarily to be inquired into and tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed. However, if it is uncertain in which of several local areas or where an offence is committed partly in one local area and partly in another or where an offence is a continuing one, and continues to be committed in more local areas than one or where it consists of several acts done in different local areas, as per Section 178 Cr.P.C., the court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas is competent to inquire into or try the offence.

Section 179 Cr.P.C. makes it clear that if an offence by reason of anything which has been done and of a consequence which has ensued, the offence may be inquired into or tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction such thing has been done or such consequence has ensued.

In Sunita Kumari Kashyap Vs. State of Bihar and Another [AIR 2011 SC 1674], the Apex Court considered a similar case where complaint was filed by the victim wife at Gaya, alleging ill-treatment and cruelty at the hands of her husband and his relatives had matrimonial home in Ranchi and that she was forcibly taken to her parental home at Gaya by her husband with a threat of dire consequences in case their dowry demand was not fulfilled.

The C.J.M., Gaya took cognizance of the offence punishable inter alia under Sections 498A IPC and 3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. The order was challenged before Patna High  Court. A Bench of  Patna High Court found that the proceedings at Gaya were not maintainable for lack of jurisdiction and, thus, quashed the entire proceedings of that case. The complainant being aggrieved by the order passed by this Court filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. The Apex Court held that the offence was a continuing one and the episode at Gaya was only a consequence of continuing offence of harassment and ill-treatment meted out to the complainant and, thus, Clause (c) of Section 178 was attracted and the order of this Court holding that the proceedings at Gaya was not maintainable due to lack of jurisdiction was set aside and the concerned Court at Gaya was permitted to proceed with the criminal proceeding in trial and decide the same in accordance with law.

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