The Delhi High Court has held that if an offence is committed in multiple locations, the Court with jurisdiction over any of those areas can inquire or try the case under Section 178 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The Court set aside the order of the Trial Court wherein the Trial Court held that the particular police station where the FIR was filed lacked jurisdiction to investigate the offence.

Justice Saurabh Banerjee observed, “A reference to Section 177 CrPC reveals that only offences committed within the local jurisdiction of the Court, may be inquired or tried into by it. However, when there are offences consisting of several acts, Section 178 CrPC comes into foray, whereof “... may be inquired into or tried by a Court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas”.

Advocate Pritish Sabharwal appeared for the Petitioner, and Additional Standing Counsel Rupali Bandhopadhya appeared for the Respondents.

An FIR was filed upon the information of the Petitioner, who was in a relationship with Respondent no 2 for three years. The Petitioner claimed that Respondent no. 2 started to establish sexual relations with the Petitioner on false pretext of marriage. After attaining the age of majority, the Petitioner asked Respondent no 2 to marry her, but Respondent no 2 refused. Furthermore, the brothers of Respondent no 2 forcefully entered the house of the Petitioner and threatened her family while stating that Respondent no 2 would not marry her.

The Petitioner approached the Court by way of a Writ Petition challenging the order of the Trial Court in FIR registered under Sections 376, 506, 509, and 323 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act). The Trial Court held that the particular station where the FIR (Police Station, Madhu Vihar, Delhi) was lodged lacked territorial jurisdiction to investigate the alleged offence and dismissed the Bail Application of Respondent no 2.

The Court held that per Section 177 of the CrPC, only offences committed within the local jurisdiction of a Court could be investigated or tried. However, the Court emphasized that if an offence involves multiple acts, Section 178 of the CrPC comes into play, which allows it to be investigated or tried by a Court with jurisdiction over any of the local areas involved.

The Court noted that per the FIR and State’s Status Report, the offences occurred in Ghaziabad and Delhi. Therefore, under the ambit of Section 178 of the CrPC, the Courts including Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), and North East (Delhi) had the required jurisdiction to try the case.

It is trite law that, the issue of jurisdiction is not the same unlike civil jurisprudence. Therefore, de hors, the place of residence of the accused/ complainant in the present case, the Court within whose local jurisdiction, the alleged offence is stated to have been committed, will be the coram judice to inquire and try into the offence”, the Court noted.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the Petition and set aside the impugned order.

Cause Title: Ms. M v State & Anr

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