Territorial jurisdiction in 498-A IPC case of subjecting a woman to cruelty


My sister in law had filed a case in District Court Saket New Delhi. She lives in Noida from day one, what she had done was that she took a flat on rent in Delhi for up-to two dates and then vacated the flat. My query here is that is it valid to do like this and if we prove that she is not residing there where she is saying, can any benefit to given to my family as she has filled 498-A IPC case against all family members? Please help on this.

Answer: Unlike a civil case, in a criminal case the territorial jurisdiction is not decided on the basis of the place of residence. It is on the basis of the place where the alleged offence occurred.

Section 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) clearly lays down that every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed.

Section 178 of Cr.P.C. further lays down that (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 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, then such offence may be inquired into or tried by a Court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas.

These are the basic rules with regard to where the FIR for an offence may be registered and where the trial for such an offence may be conducted (note: there are some other sections which deal with similar situations when it is uncertain where the offence took place, but those are not relevant for this question).

In brief, thus, it can be said that the FIR (or the private complaint) has to be registered where the offence took place or where at least a part of the offence took place. The place of residence of the complainant or of the accused is irrelevant in this regard.

In your case, what has to be seen is – whether at least a part of the alleged offence under Section 498-A of IPC (for which a complaint has been lodged by your sister-in-law in District Court, Saket, New Delhi) has been committed within Delhi. For this purpose, one has to go through the complaint on the basis of which the FIR has been registered or the private complaint (if any) has been filed in the court. Does it contain any allegation of any wrong-doings at Delhi which could be said to form part of the offence under Section 498-A IPC? For this purpose, it may also generally be necessary that one or more of the accused persons should have resided at the said address in Delhi. Even if a part of the offence has taken place in Delhi, an FIR or a private complaint case can be filed in Delhi within the territorial jurisdiction of the court concerned. This is irrespective of where the remaining parts of the offence took place. Here, it is noteworthy that in most of the complaints filed under Section 498-A IPC, incidents that occurred over a duration of period and at various places, may be mentioned. Therefore, one has to go through the FIR or the private complaint, as the case may be, to examine the facts of each such allegation to find out whether a particular court can have jurisdiction.

However, if you are sure that none of the alleged incidents took place in Delhi and that the family never resided at Delhi, then the court in Saket, New Delhi, would not have jurisdiction over such offence and such court would not have power to take cognizance of such an offence.

Please note that what is mentioned above is for a criminal case, as you have mentioned about 498-A IPC offence. If your sister-in-law has filed some civil case in Saket court, then the situation may, of course, be different.

About Dr. Ashok Dhamija

Dr. Ashok DhamijaDr. Ashok Dhamija is a New Delhi based Supreme Court Advocate, holds Ph.D. in Constitutional Law, is author of 3 law books, and is an ex-IPS officer. He is the founder of this law portal. Read more by clicking here. List of his articles. List of his Forum Replies. List of his Quora Answers.

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