'Crime abroad by foreigners not in SC ambit'
Abraham Thomas | New Delhi
Kanoon ke haath lambe hote hain (the reach of law is long) is an axiom that sustains the hope of those battling for justice against all odds. But a recent apex court decision says that even the hands of laws are tied sometimes.
In a case of dowry harassment brought by a woman against her in-laws residing in Kuwait, the court quashed the criminal proceedings against the husband and mother-in-law maintaining that the law did not offer jurisdiction for offences committed outside India by persons who were not Indian nationals.
This has come as a serious blow to those seeking justice in India for offences committed in foreign countries against them by nationals of those countries. In the present case, the harassed woman was an Indian residing in Kuwait while the mother-in-law was a citizen of Mauritius while her son is residing in Kuwait.
The marriage between the complainant and her husband took place in 2002. Almost a year later, she returned to India and lodged a case of physical and mental torture against her husband, Hanif Ahmed Patel, and his mother, Fatima Bibi. Chief Judicial Magistrate of Navsari (Gujarat) issued summons to the accused rejecting the contention of nationality claimed by the duo.
The matter went to Gujarat High Court, which upheld the order of summons forcing the mother to approach the Supreme Court. The complaint against the mother, who came on an Indian visa, sought protection under Section 4 of the IPC that does not permit prosecution of a person other than an Indian. The court had to consider whether such a defence was available to the accused woman since she often visited India and stayed with her relatives.
The Bench of Justices SB Sinha and LS Panta held, "In view of the fact that the offence is said to have been committed in Kuwait, the provisions of the IPC or the Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be said to have any application." The charge against Fatima Bibi was that of torture, intimidation and instigation under IPC Sections 498A and 506, which accordingly failed.
On the question of her citizenship, the Bench said, "There are materials before us to show that the appellant is a citizen of Mauritius...She might have been staying in India with her relatives...but it has not been denied and disputed that she is not a citizen of India." On this ground, the court held that the order of summons against her was 'illegal'.
Giving Fatima Bibi protection under Section 4 of IPC, the court said, "the Indian courts will have jurisdiction to try an accused only if the accused is a citizen of India even if the offence was committed outside India or by any person on any ship or aircraft registered in India, wherever it may be."
Noting that the fundamental right to life of the accused to be tried as per law had been violated, the judges said, "The court, in a matter like the present one where the jurisdiction issue goes to the root of the matter, would not allow injustice to be done to a party."
Husband and his Kins Can't Be Booked In India
For Harassment Abroad, Says Apex Court
Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN
New Delhi: This judgment from the Supreme Court is a warning of sorts for those hankering after NRI grooms. Check whether he is still an NRI or has taken citizenship of a foreign country before giving your daughter in marriage to him.
If your daughter's husband and mother-in-law are of Indian origin but have taken up citizenship of another country, then there is nothing you can do to proceed against them under Indian law, even if they have tortured your daughter at their home abroad and thrown her out.
The son of Fatima Bibi Ahmed Patel, a citizen of Mauritius, had married an Indian girl in April 2002. The couple was staying in Kuwait, from where the Indian girl came back home and lodged a complaint before Navasari magistrate in Gujarat alleging physical and mental torture by her husband. She also alleged that her husband used to consult his mother, Fatima, who used to instigate him. The chief judicial magistrate took cognisance of the offences and issued summons to Fatima on May 30, 2005. Her plea that she was a citizen of Mauritius and hence could not be proceded under Indian law was rejected by the trial court as well as the Gujarat HC.
Allowing her appeal against the trial court's decision to proceed against her, an SC bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and L S Panta said that as Fatima was a citizen of Mauritius, though she had been visiting India freuently, she could not be proceeded against under Indian law. "If she is not a citizen of India, the order taking cognisance must be held to be illegal," the bench said. "In view of the fact that the offence is said to have been committed in Kuwait, the provisions of IPC or CrPC cannot be said to have any application," it added.
The proceedings were initiated illegally and without jurisdiction, the apex corut said quashing the proceedings against Fatima.
"The proceedings were initiated illegally and without jurisdiction"Says Supreme corut.
In view of the fact that the offence is said to have been committed outside India,
the provisions of IPC or CrPC cannot have any application. http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydis ... name=31538
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2008
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.6004 of 2006)
Fatma Bibi Ahmed Patel ... Appellant
State of Gujarat & Anr. ...
S.B. Sinha, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. Interpretation of Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 188
of the Code of Criminal Procedure fall for our consideration in this appeal
which arises out of a judgment and order dated 12.04.2006 passed by the
High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad in Criminal Revision Application No.
358 of 2005 dismissing the Criminal Revision filed by the appellant herein.
3. Son of the appellant Hanif Ahmed Patel was married to the
complainant - respondent on 22.4.2002. Appellant indisputably is a citizen
of Mauritius. Her son and daughter-in-law at all material times were
residing at Kuwait.
A Complaint Petition, however, was filed before the Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Navsari by the said respondent alleging physical and mental
torture by her husband (the first accused). Allegations primarily against the
appellant therein were that the first accused used to consult her and she used
to instigate him.
As the couple was residing at Kuwait, indisputably the entire cause of
action arose at Kuwait. The learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Navsari,
however, took cognizance of the aforesaid offences and directed issuance of
summons to the appellant by an order dated 30.5.2003.
An application was filed by her stating that the complaint petition
filed without obtaining the requisite sanction under Section 188 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure was bad in law. The same was dismissed.
A joint application with her son was thereafter filed by the appellant
for quashing of the entire complaint petition which was withdrawn.
Appellant, however, filed a fresh application on or about 6.12.2004
raising a contention that as she is a citizen of Mauritius and as the entire
cause of action took place at Kuwait, the order taking cognizance is bad in
law. Whereas the learned trial judge rejected the said plea, the Revisional
Court on a revision application filed by the appellant thereagainst, allowed
Respondent No. 2 moved the High Court of Gujarat aggrieved
thereby which by reason of the impugned order has been allowed.
4. Mr. Sudarshan Rajan, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellant, submitted that having regard to the provisions contained in
Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 188 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, the order taking cognizance as against the appellant was bad in
law. Reliance in this behalf has been placed on Central Bank of India Ltd.
vs. Ram Narain[AIR 1955 SC 36].
5. Mr. Pawan Kumar Bahl, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondent, on the other hand, urged that having regard to the fact that the
appellant having filed an application for quashing earlier on the ground of
non-compliance of the provisions of Section 188 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure as also having filed a quashing application which stood
withdrawn, the said application was not maintainable.
Offences said to have been committed by the appellant in the
complaint petition were under Sections 498A and 506(2) of the Indian Penal
Code. Provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal
Procedure would, therefore, indisputably apply.
Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code reads as under:-
"4. Extension of Code to extra-territorial offences.-
The provisions of this Code apply also to any offence
(1) any citizen of India in any place without and beyond
(2) any person on any ship or aircraft registered in India
wherever it may be.
Explanation.--In this section the word "offence" includes
every act committed outside India which, if committed in
India, would be punishable under this Code.
A, who is a citizen of India, commits a murder in
Uganda. He can be tried and convicted of murder in any
place in India in which he may he found."
Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure reads as under:
"Section 188 - Offence committed outside India.
-When an offence is committed outside India--
(a) by a citizen of India, whether on the high seas or
(b) by a person, not being such citizen, on any ship or
aircraft registered in India,
he may be dealt with in respect of such offence as if it had
been committed at any place within India at which he may
Provided that, notwithstanding anything in any of the
preceding sections of this Chapter, no such offence shall
be inquired into or tried in India except with the previous
sanction of the Central Government."
In our constitutional scheme, all laws made by Parliament primarily
are applicable only within the country. Ordinarily, therefore, all persons
who commit a crime in India can be tried in any place where the offence is
committed. Section 41 of the Indian Penal Code, however, extends the
scope of applicability of the territorial jurisdiction of the court of India to
try a case, the cause of action of which took place outside the geographical
limits. Parliament indisputably may enact a legislation having extra
territorial application but the same must be applied subject to fulfillment of
the requirements contained therein.
There are materials before us to show that the appellant is a citizen of
Mauritius. She has been visiting India on Visas issued by India. She, thus,
indisputably is not a citizen of India. She might have been staying in India
with her relatives as has been contended by the complainant, but it has not
been denied and disputed that she is not a citizen of India. If she is not a
citizen of India having regard to the provisions contained in Section 4 of the
Indian Penal Code and Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the
order taking cognizance must be held to be illegal.
In terms of Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code, the Indian courts will
have jurisdiction to try an accused only if the accused is a citizen of India
even if the offence was committed outside India or by any person on any
ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be. Neither of the
aforementioned contingencies is attracted in the instant case. Section 188 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure also deals with offences committed outside
India. Clause (a) brings within its sweep a citizen of India, whether on the
high seas or elsewhere, or by a person, although not citizen of India when
the offence is committed on any ship or aircraft registered in India.
In view of the fact that the offence is said to have been committed in
Kuwait, the provisions of the Indian Penal Code or the Code of Criminal
Procedure cannot be said to have any application.
This aspect of the matter has been considered by this Court in
Central Bank of India Ltd. vs. Ram Narain [supra], wherein it was clearly
"The learned Attorney-General contended that Ram
Narain was at the time when sanction for his prosecution
was given by the East Punjabn Government, a citizen of
India residing in Hodel and that being so, he could be
tried in India being a citizen of India at that moment, and
having committed offences outside India, and that the
provisions of Section 4 I.P.C. and Section 188, Cr. P.C.
were fully attracted to the case.
In our opinion, this contention is not well founded. The
language of the sections plainly means that if at the time
of the commission of the offence, the person committing
it is a citizen of India, then even if the offence is
committed outside India he is subject to the jurisdiction
of the courts in India. The rule enunciated in the
sections is based on the principle that qua citizens the
jurisdiction of courts is not lost by reason of the venue of
the offence. If, however, at the time of the commission
of the offence the accused person is not a citizen of
India, then the provisions of these sections have no
A foreigner was not liable to be dealt with in British
India for an offence committed and completed outside
British India under the provisions of the sections as they
stood before the adaptations made in them after the
partition of India. Illustration (a) to Section 4, I.P.C.
delimits the scope of the section. It indicates the extent
and the ambit of this section. It runs as follows:
"(a) A, a coolie, who is a Native Indian
subject commits a murder in Uganda. He can
be tried and convicted of murder in any place
in British India in which he may be found."
In the illustration, if (A) was not a Native Indian subject
at the time of the commission of the murder the
provisions of Section 4, I.P.C. could not apply to his
case. The circumstance that after the commission of the
offence a person becomes domiciled in another country,
or acquires citizenship of that State, cannot confer
jurisdiction on the courts of that territory retrospectively
for trying offences committed and completed at a time
when that person was neither the national of that country
nor was he domiciled there."
Strong reliance has been placed by the learned counsel appearing on
behalf of the respondents on Ajay Agarwal vs. Union of India [AIR 1993
SC 1637]. The question which arose for consideration therein was that as to
whether a sanction of Central Government for prosecution in terms of
Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was necessary. The said
question was answered in the negative stating:
"8. The question is whether prior sanction of the Central
Govt. is necessary for the offence of conspiracy under
proviso to Section 188 of the Code to take cognizance of
an offence punishable under Section 120-B etc. I.P.C. or
to proceed with trial In Chapter VA, conspiracy was
brought on statute by the Amendment Act, 1913 (8 of
1913). Section 120-A of the I.P.C. defines 'conspiracy' to
mean that when two or more persons agree to do, or
cause to be done an illegal act, or an act which is not
illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated
as "criminal conspiracy. No agreement except an
agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a
criminal conspiracy, unless some act besides the
agreement is done by one or more parties to such
agreement in furtherance thereof. Section 120-B of the
I.P.C. prescribes punishment for criminal conspiracy. It
is not necessary that each conspirator must know all the
details of the scheme nor be a participant at every stage.
It is necessary that they should agree for design or object
of the conspiracy. Conspiracy is conceived as having
three elements: (1) agreement (2) between two or more
persons by whom the agreement is effected; and (3) a
criminal object, which may be either the ultimate aim of
the agreement, or may constitute the means, or one of the
means by which that aim is to be accomplished. It is
immaterial whether this is found in the ultimate objects.
The common law definition of 'criminal conspiracy' was
stated first by Lord Denman in Jones' case (1832 B &
AD 345) that an indictment for conspiracy must "charge
a conspiracy to do an unlawful act by unlawful means"
and was elaborated by Willies, J. on behalf of the Judges
while referring the question to the House of Lords in
Mulcahy v. Reg (1868) L.R. 3 H.L. 306 and the House of
Lords in unanimous decision reiterated in Quinn v.
Leathem 1901 AC 495 at 528 as under:
"A conspiracy consists not merely in the
intention of two or more, but in the agreement
of two or more to do an unlawful act, or to do a
lawful act by unlawful means. So long as such
a design rests in intention only it is not
indictable. When two agree to carry it into
effect, the very plot is an act in itself, and the
act of each of the parties, promise against
promise, actus contra actum, capable of being
enforced, if lawful, punishable of for a criminal
object or for the use of criminal means.
The court therein was concerned with a charge of conspiracy. It was
in the aforementioned context opined that no sanction would be required.
R. M. Sahai, J. in his concurring judgment stated:
"Language of the section is plain and simple. It operates
where an offence is committed by a citizen of India
outside the country. Requirements are, therefore, one -
commission of an offence; second - by an Indian citizen;
and third - that it should have been committed outside
the country. Out of the three there is no dispute that the
appellant is an Indian citizen. But so far the other two are
that the conspiracy to forge and cheat the bank was
hatched by the appellant and others in India. Whether it
was so or not, cannot be gone into at this stage."
The learned counsel submitted that as in the earlier application, the
appellant merely complained of the absence of any sanction, this application
should not be entertained. We do not agree. Principles analogous to res
judicata have no application with regard to criminal cases. An accused has
a fundamental right in terms of Article 21 of the Constitution of India to be
proceeded against only in accordance with law. The law which would apply
in India subject of course to the provisions of Section 4 of the Indian Penal
Code and Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is that the offence
must be committed within the territory of India. If admittedly, the offence
has not been committed within the territorial limits of India, the provisions
of the Indian Penal Code as also the Code of Criminal Procedure would not
apply. If the provisions of said Acts have no application as against the
appellant, the order taking cognizance must be held to be wholly illegal and
without jurisdiction. The jurisdictional issue has been raised by the
appellant herein. Only because on a mistaken legal advise, another
application was filed, which was dismissed, the same by itself, in our
opinion, will not come in the way of the appellant to file an appropriate
application before the High Court particularly when by reason thereof her
fundamental right has been infringed.
This Court, in a matter like the present one where the jurisdictional
issue goes to the root of the matter, would not allow injustice to be done to a
party. The entire proceedings having been initiated illegally and without
jurisdiction, all actions taken by the court were without jurisdiction, and
thus are nullities. In such a case even the principle of res judicata
(wherever applicable) would not apply.
In Chief Justice Of Andhra Pradesh And Others v. L. V. A. Dixitulu
And Others [AIR 1979 SC 193 at 198], this Court held:
"If the argument holds good, it will make the decision of
the Tribunal as having been given by an authority
suffering from inherent lack of jurisdiction. Such a
decision cannot be sustained merely by the doctrine of
res judicata or estoppel as urged in this case."
[See also Union of India v. Pramod Gupta (D) by LRs and Ors.,
(2005) 12 SCC 1]
Where a jurisdictional issue is raised, save and except for certain
categories of the cases, the same may be permitted to be raised at any stage
of the proceedings.
6. For the reasons aforementioned, the impugned judgment cannot be
sustained. It is set aside accordingly. The appeal is allowed with costs.
Counsel's fee assessed at Rs.25,000/- (Rupees twenty five thousand only).
[Lokeshwar Singh Panta]
May 13, 2008