The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has held that for the offence committed under Section 494 IPC of performing second marriage during the subsistence of the first valid marriage, the Court within whose jurisdiction the second marriage has been performed has the jurisdiction to try such a case under Section 177 CrPC.

Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul while holding so placed reliance on the judgment of S. Karan Singh Sodhi and others vs. Jatender Jeet Kour, reported in 2007 (2) JKJ 566, wherein it was held –

"The question is which marriage constitute the offence punishable under Section 494, R.P.C. In terms of Section 494, R.P.C. performing/contracting the second marriage during the subsistence of first valid marriage is the offence. The Court within whose jurisdiction, the second marriage is performed is having the jurisdiction to try the case in terms of Section 177 of Criminal Procedure Code (in short "the Code"). This provision of law lays down the general principles as regards the jurisdiction of the Court. Every offence shall ordinarily be enquired into and tried by a Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction it was committed. Admittedly offence under Section 494, R.P.C. is the second marriage. As discussed herein above the second marriage has been contracted at Baramulla, as alleged. Thus, Baramulla Court is having the jurisdiction to try the complaint."

Counsel Abhimanyu Sharma appeared for the Petitioners while Counsel G.S. Thakur appeared for the Respondents before the Court.

The Court was hearing a plea wherein the Petitioners had prayed for the quashing of the complaint pending before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Reasi (Trial Court), and also the order dated March 5, 2020, by virtue of which the Trial Court has taken cognizance and has issued process to the Petitioners.

In this case, Petitioners were the family members of the Respondent No. 2 who was the husband of Respondent No. 1. The marriage of the Respondents was solemnized in May 5, 2017, and soon after Respondent No. 1 was having matrimonial discord with Respondent No. 2 and she left her matrimonial home.

A case under the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act was filed by Respondent No. 1 against Respondent No. 2 and in the said Petition, the Petitioners were the Respondents.

It was stated that during the pendency of the aforesaid complaint, Respondent No. 1 in order to humiliate and harass the Petitioners filed another complaint under Sections 494, 109, 114, and 120-B IPC against the Petitioners before the Trial Court.

The Trial Court took cognizance and issued the process against the Petitioners.

The complaint and the impugned order were sought to be quashed by the Petitioners before the High Court.

Respondent No. 1 filed objections alleging that she got legally married to Respondent No. 2 as per Hindu rites and Ceremonies and also have a male child born out of the said wedlock.

Despite this, Respondent No. 1 alleged that Respondent No. 2 had solemnized a second marriage with Respondent No. 3, and out of the said wedlock a male child was born.

In the objections, it was further stated that in the complaint she had made specific allegations that the proforma Respondents in connivance with the Petitioners solemnized the second marriage despite the fact that the first marriage with the answering respondent was subsisting at the time of solemnizing the second marriage.

Counsel for the Petitioners argued that the complaint and the subsequent order of the Trial Court is required to be quashed as the Trial Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the same.

While Counsel for Respondent No. 1 contended that she is residing permanently with her parents at Reasi, therefore the Court at Reasi has the jurisdiction to entertain the complaint.

The Court placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Trisuns Chemical Industry v. Rajesh Agarwal, reported in 1999(4) RCR (Criminal) 223 (SC) wherein it was held that any Magistrate can take cognizance of whether it has the jurisdiction or not but enquiry of trial is to be conducted by the Magistrate having jurisdiction.

Thus, the Court held the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Reasi lacked the jurisdiction to try the case and quashed the impugned order of the Trial Court, and directed the Complainant to approach the appropriate forum for redressal of her grievance.

Cause Title - Vijay Gupta and others v. Deeksha Sharma and others

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