Jurisdiction for trial of Section 498A and 307

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

(Court No. 48)

Criminal Misc. Application No. 2195 of 2007

1. Rajendra Prasad Arora son of late Roshan Lal.
2. Smt. Shikas W/o Rajendra Prasad Arora.
3. Amit Arora Son of Rajendra Prasad Arora. All R/o 1450, A.S.F. Loni Road, Sahdera, New Delhi.
4. Yachna daughter of Rajendra Prasad Arora, W/o Amit Arora R/o C/3/5 Model town, III Delhi.
5. Manohar Lal.
6. Mahabir Prasad. Sons of H.L. Arora,
Both R/o C-410, Chhajjupur, P.S. Sahadra, Delhi. ….. Accused -Applicants.

Vs.
1. State of U.P.
2. Ratan Lal Arora, son of
Babu Lal Arora, Resident of 144 Indira Nagar Meerut. ………..Complainant -Opp.parties.

Hon’ble Barkat Ali Zaidi, J

1. The controversy in these proceedings under 482 Cr.P.C. is whether jurisdiction for trial of the offences under Section 498-A and 307 of Indian Penal Code read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act lies at Meerut or Delhi.

2. The case at present is being tried ad Meerut..

3. Sri Satish Trivedi,Senior Advocate assisted by Sri Imran Ullah, advocate present for the applicants, Sri Gopal S. Chaturvedi, assisted by Sri Sumit Gopal advocate present for Opp. Party No. 2 and Sri R.K. Maurya, Addl. Government Advocate present for the State, have been heard.

4. Section 177 of Civil Procedure Code says that every offence shall ordinarily be enquired into and tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed.

5. The first information Report of the case states that the demand of dowry from the side of the husband petitioner was made twice at Meerut first when the petitioners came to Meerut to the house of the wife’s father and again when they came to participate in the marriage of the daughter of wife’s brother. It is well settled that jurisdiction is determined on the basis of complaint or F.I.R. Since it is mentioned in the First Information Report that the demand of dowry was made in Meerut twice as mentioned above the jurisdiction will prima-facie lie at Meerut. It was argued by the counsel for the applicants-accused that the F.I.R. mentions that the wife was subjected to harassment at Delhi and the two aforesaid instances of demand of dowry are subsequent to the same and since the first offence was committed at Delhi and the offence under section 307 I.P.C. was also committed at Delhi as motioned in the fist information report, the jurisdiction will lie at Delhi. Every new incident which constitutes an offence furnishes a new cause of action and the jurisdiction for the same will lie where it was committed. If an offence for demand of dowry was committed in Meerut as alleged in the first information report it was a fresh offence for which Meerut Court will have jurisdiction and for which accused can be proceeded against at Merut. In such cases, it is the option of the complainant where he chooses to proceed. This proposition finds support from Section 178 Cr.P.C., which is as follows:

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” 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 area, it may b e inquired into or tried by a Court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas.”

6. Since the offence under Section 307 I.P.C. is allied and connected with the offence under Section 498-A I.P.C., the offence under Section 307 I.P.C. should also be tried at a place where the offence under Section 498-A I.P.C. is tried.

7. There is another dimension to this controversy and which is that the defect, if any, in the territorial jurisdiction will be curable under Section 465 Cr.P.C. Section 465 Cr.P.C. is as follows:-

” 465. Finding or sentence when reversible by reason of error, omission or irregularity:- (1) Subject to the provisions hereinbefore contained, no finding, sentence or order passed by a Court of competent jurisdiction shall be reversed or altered by a Court of appeal, confirmation or revision on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the complaint , summons, warrant, proclamation, order, judgment or other proceedings before or during trial or in any inquiry or other proceedings under this Code, or any error, or irregularity in any sanction for the prosecution, unless in the opinion of that Court, a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby.

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(2) In determining whether any error, omission or irregularity in any proceeding under this Code, or any error, or irregularity in any sanction for the prosecution has occasioned a failure of justice, the Court shall have regard to the fact whether the objection could and should have been raised at an earlier stage in the proceedings.”

8. The only thing to be examined is whether Section 465 Cr.P.C. will not be applicable because there has been a failure of justice?.

9. Failure of justice is a phrase which has not been specifically defined but the connotation whereof keep changing with the facts and circumstances arising in the particular case. What can be said without much ado is that a failure of justice will arise if the finding is not equitable and is unconscionable . If we apply this test to the existing scenario it will be seen that no injustice or inequity will arise if the case is tried at Meerut and not at Delhi.It is hardly going to make a difference to the result of the case and to the merit of the case if it is tried at Meerut. No specific damage which may ensure has been enumerated in the petition if the case is tried at Meerut.

10. It has also to be noticed that the plea of jurisdiction has now been raised when the prosecution evidence in the case has concluded and even the statements of the accused have been recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C. It is at this stage that the plea of jurisdiction has been raised and the obvious purpose which should in the circumstances be inferred is that the move is designed to frustrate the proceedings.

11. Sub Clause-2 of Section 465 Cr.P.C. ,as quoted above specifically mentions that in determination of the question whether the error, omission or irregularity has occasioned a failure of justice the Court shall have regard to the fact whether the objection should and could have been raised at an earlier stage of the proceedings. Here the objection is being raised after the prosecution evidence is over, and the scale should, therefore, lean in favour of the respondents, and it should be held, that there has been no failure of justice.

12. Petitioners have referred to the case of Hansraj Chaudhary Vs. Smt. Sarita [ 1992 A.Cr.R] 265 but this was a case where the wife was treated with cruelty in Madhya Pradesh and the Court of Jhansi had no jurisdiction . The case had its own facts and the decision is based on facts. It will have no bearing in the case in hand.

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13. The next case referred to is that of Abraham Ajith and others Vs. Inspector of Police Chennai and another, 2004 S.C.C. (Crl.),2134 where on basis of the facts it was held that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case. The only similarity of this case with the case in hand, is, that this case was also under Section 498-A I.P.C. The decision was, however, on the facts of the particular case.

14. Another case cited is of Sandeep Soni and others Vs. State of U.P. and others [2006 (2) J.I.C. 379 (All)]. It can be said that this case will perhaps support the contention of the respondent wife. This will appear from the following observations made in the case;
” It is well known that if any cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of a Court fully or partially, such Court is empowered to entertain , try and determine the matter.”

15. In the case in question, since the cause of action arose at Meerut as noted above, the Meerut Court can exercise jurisdiction .

16. The next case referred to by counsel for the petitioners is that of Manish Ratan and others Vs. State of M.P. and another , 2007 (57) ACC 264 . This case again was dependant upon the facts arising in the case and does not lay down any proposition which may be said to support the petitioner’s case.

17. The last case referred to is the case of Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. Union of India and others, 2005 S.C.C. ( Cri.) ,1473 .
There is nothing in this case which may be of any help to the petitioner’s contention and the significance of the case lies in the observations made by the Supreme court in the provisions of Section 498-A being misused by unscrupulous persons for personal vendetta and harassment.

18. In view of the aforementioned facts and circumstances, the petition is liable to dismissal and is accordingly dismissed.

1.3.2007
2195 /2007 n.u.

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