How to ascertain jurisdiction of court in case of offence u/s.498A and 406 of IPC?

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR RAJASTHAN
AT JODHPUR

ORDER

S.B.CR. MISC. PETITION NO.1581/2010

Kuldeep Singh & Ors.
Vs.
State of Rajasthan & Anr.

Date of Order : 21st February, 2014

PRESENT

HON’BLE MR JUSTICE VIJAY BISHNOI

Dr S.S.Jodha for petitioners
Mr A.R.Nikub – Public Prosecutor
Mr Suresh Kumbhat for respondent No.2

BY THE COURT:
The only issue for consideration in this criminal misc. petition is whether criminal proceedings initiated by the respondent No.2 at Bali against the petitioners are maintainable or not for lack of jurisdiction?

Brief facts of the case are that the daughter of respondent No.2 got married with petitioner No.1 on 27.04.2001 at village Srisela, Tehsil Bali, District Pali as per Hindu rights and ceremonies. According to the respondent No.2, at the time of engagement of his daughter on 22.06.1998, he had gifted Rs.1,00,000/- in cash, gold chain, gold ring, wristwatch and clothes. Thereafter, at the time of marriage of brother of the petitioner No.1, he had gifted clothes of Rs.20,000/-. It is alleged in the complaint that when the respondent No.2 had asked for fixing the date of marriage of his daughter with the petitioner No.1, the petitioners raised a demand of clothes amounting to Rs.1,50,000/- in dowry and that was fulfilled by him and at the time of marriage on 27.04.2001. It is further alleged that his relatives had gifted various things to his daughter and after marriage, his daughter went to the house of the petitioners at Beawar. After about a week, the petitioner No.1 asked the daughter of the respondent No.2 to bring Rs.1,00,000/- and one Maruti Car from her parents. The petitioner No.1 also threatened that if the said demand is not fulfilled, he would remarry and leave the daughter of respondent No.2 to her parental home. It is also alleged that father-in-law, mother-in-law and other accused-persons always used to say that the respondent No.2 has given very less dowry and also not given Rs.1,00,000/- and a car and with these demands, they tortured her and at once, the petitioner No.1 has even assaulted his daughter. It is further alleged that five days after marriage when accused No.9 returned to her village Srisela, the other accused-persons continuously demanded Rs.1,00,000/- and a Maruti Car through accused No.9 and pressurised the other relatives to fulfill the demand of dowry. It is further alleged in the complaint that when the daughter of respondent No.2 was unable to sustain the physical and mental torture, she informed the respondent No.2 to bring her back and then he along with his wife went to Beawar and requested the in-laws of his daughter not to torture her, then at that time also, the petitioners had demanded Rs.1,00,000/- and one new Maruti Car. The respondent No.2 was asked by the petitioners that when he would be in a position to fulfill the demand of dowry, he may inform them and thereafter, they would bring his daughter. It is also alleged in the complaint that near relatives of the respondent No.2 went to Beawar and also requested the petitioners to bring her back to Beawar but the petitioners had stated that until and unless the demand of dowry is fulfilled, they would not bring the daughter of the complainant back. It is alleged that the petitioners have refused to return the ‘Streedhan’ of his daughter. The respondent No.2 has further alleged that on 11.01.2004, the petitioners had informed the respondent No.2 on telephone that if their demand of dowry is not fulfilled, the petitioner No.1 will remarry. With these allegations, the respondent No.2 filed a complaint before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bali, who in turn, forwarded the said complaint to the police and the police has registered an FIR in respect of the complaint and thereafter filed a charge-sheet against the petitioners before the trial court and the trial court took the cognizance against the petitioners for the offences under sections 498A and 406 IPC.

The petitioners moved an application under section 177 Cr.P.C. with a prayer that the trial court at Bali has no jurisdiction to try the case because as per the allegations levelled in the complaint, the alleged offences were committed at Beawar. The application under section 177 Cr.P.C. preferred by the petitioners had been rejected by the trial court vide order dated 12.08.2009 and being aggrieved with the same, the petitioners preferred a revision petition before the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Bali, District Pali (for short ‘the revisional court’ hereinafter), however, the same has also been dismissed by the revisional court vide impugned order dated 02.06.2010 and being aggrieved with this, the petitioners have preferred this criminal misc. petition.

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Learned counsel for the petitioners has argued that as per the allegations levelled in the complaint filed by the respondent No.2, the alleged offences were committed by the petitioners at Beawar, District Ajmer and, therefore, the trial court at Bali, District Pali has no jurisdiction to conduct the trial of the case. It is also contended by the learned counsel for the petitioners that though the trial court has observed that the demand of dowry was made at Beawar and the cruelty was also committed at Beawar but has dismissed the application of the petitioners solely on the ground that since the cognizance have already been taken by the court at Bali, therefore, plea of jurisdiction cannot be raised at this stage. It is further contended by the learned counsel for the petitioners that the plea of jurisdiction can be raised at any stage and the trial court was erred in not granting relief to the petitioners. It is also contended by the learned counsel for the petitioners that the revisional court has also not taken into consideration this aspect of the matter and passed the order in a mechanical manner.

In support of the above arguments, the learned counsel for the petitioners has placed reliance on decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in
Y.Abraham Ajith & Ors.
Inspector of Police, Chennai & Anr., (2004) 8 SCC 100;
T.P.Moideen Koya Govt. of Kerala & Ors., (2004) 8 SCC 106;
Manish Ratan & Ors., State of M.P. & Anr., (2007) 1 SCC 262; and
Bhura Ram & Ors. , 2008 Cr.L.R. (SC) 342;

The learned counsel for the petitioners has also placed reliance on the decisions of this Court in Kishan Lal & Anr. State of Rajasthan, 2005(2) Cr.L.R. (Raj.) 1439; Suman (Kum.) & Ors. , 2006(2) Cr.L.R. (Raj.) 1348; State of Rajasthan Neema Ram, 2006(2) Cr.L.R. (Raj.) 1351; Pankaj Saxena & Ors. State of Rajasthan, 2008(1) Cr.L.R. (Raj.) 64; and Narain Singh State of Rajasthan & Shyamlal Jat, 2008 (1) Cr.L.R. (Raj.) 67. Per contra, learned Public Prosecutor as well as the learned counsel for the respondents have supported the impugned orders passed by the courts below and argued that there is no illegality in the said orders as the alleged offence was continuing one and the court at Bali is also having jurisdiction to conduct the trial of the case against the petitioners.

Mr Suresh Kumbhat, learned counsel for the respondent No.2 has invited the and 9 of the complaint as well as the statement of respondent No.2 recorded by the police under section 161 CrPC and argued that from the above, it is clear that the petitioners demanded dowry at Bali from the respondent No.2 at the time of Bidai of his daughter on the next day of the marriage and thereafter also on several occasions, they demanded dowry from the respondent No.2 by calling him on telephone at the place falling in the jurisdiction of the Court at Bali.

In support of his arguments, the learned counsel for the respondent No.2 has placed reliance on the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Sunita Kumhari Kashyap State of Bihar & Anr. 2011 Cr.L.R. (SC) 400. He also placed reliance on the decisions of this Court in Kanhaiya lal and Ors. State of Rajasthan and Anr., RLW 2008(3) Raj 2555; Piyush Ramsinghani , 2008(27) Criminal CC 144; Varinder Singh and Ors. State of Rajasthan and Ors., RLW 2011 (3) Raj. 1895; and Smt. Madhu Gupta , 2013(2) RCC (Raj.) 813.

Heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the impugned order.

Hon’ble Supreme Court in Sunita Kumari Kashyap State of Bihar & Anr. (supra), after taking into consideration the provisions of sections 177 and 179 Cr.P.C. and after taking into consideration its earlier pronouncements on the same subject has held as under:

“6. Chapter XIII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short “Code”) deals with jurisdiction of the criminal courts in inquiries and trials. Sections 177-179 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 the normal rule is that the 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.
7……….
8……….

9. Mr. S.B. Sanyal, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondents fairly stated that there is no dispute about the jurisdiction of the Court at Gaya insofar as against the husband, however, in respect of other relatives of the husband in the absence of any act at Gaya, the said Court has no jurisdiction and if at all, the wife has to pursue her remedy only at Ranchi. In support of his contention, he relied on a decision of this Court in Y. Abraham Ajith and others Inspector of Police, Chennai and another, (2004) 8 SCC 100 in particular, paragraph 12 of the said decision which reads as under: “12. 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.”

It is true that Section 177 of the Code refers to the local jurisdiction where the offence is committed. Though the expression “cause of action” is not a stranger to criminal cases, in view of Sections 178 and 179 of the Code and in the light of the specific averment in the complaint of the appellant herein, we are of the view that the said decision is not applicable to the case on hand.

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10. Mr. Sanyal also relied on a decision of this Court in Bhura Ram and Others State of Rajasthan and Another, (2008) 11 SCC 103 wherein following the decision in Y. Abraham Ajith and Others (supra), this Court held that “cause of action”; having arisen within the jurisdiction of the court where the offence was committed, could not be tried by the court where no part of offence was committed. For the same reasons, as mentioned in the earlier paragraph, while there is no dispute as to the proposition in view of the fact that in the case on hand, the offence was a continuing one and the episode at Gaya was only a consequence at the continuing offence of harassment and ill-treatment meted out to the complainant, clause (c) of Section 178 is attracted. In view of the above reason, both the decisions are not applicable to the facts of this case and we are unable to accept the stand taken by Mr. Sanyal.

11. We have already adverted to the details made by the appellant in the complaint. In view of the specific assertion by the appellant-wife about the ill-treatment and cruelty at the hands of the husband and his relatives at Ranchi and of the fact that because of their action, she was taken to her parental home at Gaya by her husband with a threat of dire consequences for not fulfilling their demand of dowry, we hold that in view of Sections 178 and 179 of the Code, the offence in this case was a continuing one having been committed in more local areas and one of the local areas being Gaya, the learned Magistrate at Gaya has jurisdiction to proceed with the criminal case instituted therein. In other words, the offence was a continuing one and the episode at Gaya was only a consequence of continuing offence of harassment of illtreatment meted out to the complainant, clause (c) of Section 178 is attracted. Further, from the allegations in the complaint, it appears to us that it is a continuing offence of ill- treatment and humiliation meted out to the appellant in the hands of all the accused persons and in such continuing offence, on some occasion all had taken part and on other occasion one of the accused, namely, husband had taken part, therefore, undoubtedly clause (c) of Section 178 of the Code is clearly attracted.”ÿIn the light of the above principle of law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, this Court has critically examined the allegations levelled by the respondent No.2 in the complaint and the statement of respondent No.2 recorded by the police under section 161Cr.P.C., copies of which are supplied by the learned counsel for the complainant, and found that the respondent No.2 has alleged in the complaint that just before few days of marriage of his daughter i.e. on 18.04.2001, he was in receipt of a registered letter from the petitioners, wherein they have demanded clothes to the tune of Rs.1,50,000/- as dowry in the marriage. The respondent No.2 has further alleged that his daughter has telephoned him and informed about the torture she is facing due to non-fulfillment of dowry demand made by the petitioners and he along with his wife went to Beawar, where the petitioners had demanded Rs.1,00,000/- cash and one new Maruti Car. It has further been alleged in the complaint that even after the respondent No.2 brought his daughter with him to his village, the petitioners continuously demanded Rs.1,00,000/- and one Maruti Car, and ultimately on 11.01.2004, they informed that if their demand is not met immediately, the petitioner No.1 will remarry. The respondent No.2 has also alleged that the ‘Streedhan’ of his daughter was handed over to her in-laws at the time of ‘Bidai’ at Bali and the petitioners have refused to return the ‘Streedhan’ of his daughter. It is also noticed that in his statement recorded under section 161 Cr.P.C., the respondent No.2 has alleged that before marriage, the petitioners had asked him that before leaving his house after marriage, he should give a sum of Rs.1,00,000/- and a new Maruti Car in dowry.ÿFrom the above, it is clear that the marriage of the petitioner No.1 and the daughter of respondent No.2 was solemnized at village Srisela. It is also not in dispute that village Srisela is falling in the jurisdiction of the Court at Bali. As per the allegations levelled in the complaint, the petitioners have demanded dowry from the respondent No.2 on telephone or by other means at Srisela also. It is also alleged in the complaint that the Streedhan of the daughter of the respondent No.2 was entrusted to the petitioners at village Srisela and that Streedhan was taken by the petitioners at Beawar, where the in-laws of daughter of respondent No.2 are residing. When the respondent No.2 has demanded the said ‘Streedhan’ back, the petitioners have refused to give it back.ÿTherefore, as per the details made by the respondent No.2 in the complaint, the offence in this case was a continuing one having been committed in more local areas and one of the local areas being Bali, the learned Magistrate at Bali has jurisdiction to proceed with the criminal case instituted therein.ÿThe offence was a continuing one and the episode at Bali such as demand of dowry after marriage was only a consequence of continuing offence and as per complaint, the entrustment of ‘Streedhan‘ was also at Bali, therefore, clause (c) of section 178 Cr.P.C. is attracted.ÿIn such circumstances, this Court does not find any illegality in the orders passed by the court below. Hence, there is no force in this criminal misc. petition and the same is hereby dismissed. Stay petition also stands dismissed.

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[VIJAY BISHNOI]

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