Recently I participated in a moot court. Central theme of moot problem was revolving around Sec. 498A of IPC. One of the main issues of that problem was territorial jurisdiction. While researching for that issue, I found a grey area. Initially, I thought the law on the issue of territorial jurisdiction was quite straight forward but as the research proceeded my opinion changed. How? Let’s check that out in the blog post.
According to Halsbury’s Laws of England First Edition 9th volume, page 280 - "The common law rule is that the proper venue for the trial of a crime is the area of jurisdiction in which the place is where the crime was committed."
Also according to Hon'ble Supreme Court in Y. Abraham Ajith vs Inspector Of Police (AIR 2004 SC 4286) -
"The crucial question is whether any part of the cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of the court concerned. In terms of Section 177 of the Code, it is the place where the offence was committed. In essence it is the cause of action for initiation of the proceedings against the accused."
According to this principle, if wife was harassed by the husband and his family members at her matrimonial home let’s say in city A and due to which she shifted to her parental house in city B. The territorial jurisdiction of this case will be to the court in city A.
Seems quite straight forward, doesn't it? Wait till you understand the twist.
Territorial Jurisdiction where cause of action did not arise –
According to Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sunita Kumari Kashyap vs. State of Bihar (2011) 11 SCC 301 -
"The normal rule is offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed. However, when it is uncertain in which of several local areas an offence was committed 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 than one local area and takes place in different local areas as per Section 178, the Court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas is competent to inquire into and try the offence. Section 179 makes it clear that if anything happened as a consequence of the offence, the same may be inquired into or tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction such thing has been done or such consequence has ensued."
When you compare the principles laid down in this case with the about situation, if wife was harassed by the husband and his family members at her matrimonial home in city A and due to which she shifted to her parental house in city B. The territorial jurisdiction of this case will be to the court in city A and also to the court in city B. (as wife came here due to the harassment) Wife shifted to city B, which was a consequence of harassment in city A.
Also Gauhati High Court in Bina Dey V. Pratibha Dey (2003 CriLJ 3618) opined that -
“There is no dispute at the Bar that Section 498A is a continuing offence. Being unable to bear the alleged cruelty or 'torture, the wife has to go back to her parents place for shelter and in case, she is asked to prosecute her case under Section 498A, IPC, at her matrimonial place, in our opinion, it will amount to deprivation of right to prosecute the case as a deserted lady will not be able to prosecute the same properly.”
Now when you know there is a grey area in law about territorial jurisdiction U/S 498 A. There’s confusion about it. There is huge issue before us that how to interpret the question of territorial jurisdiction u/s 498A of IPC.
Twitter - @harshalmorwale