Local Jurisdictions of Court and Police

Author: Saksham Anand

Sections 177 to 189 contained in Chapter XIII of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 (CrPC) defines the general principles for determining which shall be the proper court to inquire into or try an offence. The basic rule in the context of local Jurisdiction is contained in Section 177 which provides ordinarily ever offence to be inquired into or tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed. The jurisdiction of a police officer to investigate a case would depend upon a large numbers of factors including those contained in Section 177,178 and 181 CrPC. Section 156(1) makes the general rules applicable for deciding which shall be the proper police station to entertain investigation into an offence. In Harjit Singh v. Union of India[1] Punjab and Haryana Court ruled that anticipatory bail can be granted by the High Court/Session Court having Territorial Jurisdiction over the place of commission of offence.

Basic rule regarding place of inquiry and trial

 According to Section 177 “Every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed”[2] . The rule is one of expediency. Considering the size of the Country, the distance of courts from the place of crime and difficulties of transport in the interior, it would seem desirable that the inquiry and trial should ordinarily take place in the area of the crime. As the witness can reasonably be expected to be available in that locality, it would’ve convenient both to the prosecution and to the defence if then trial took place in the court of that locality. It is also felt that sense of social security is better maintained by requiring the dispensation of criminal justice to be done in the area of crime. Though Section 177 use the word “ordinarily”, it only means except where provided otherwise in the Code or other law, the rule contained in the section shall govern all criminal trials held under the code including trials of offenses punishable under local or special laws. The word “ordinarily” Suggest that the section is a general one and is subject to the other special provisions of the Code or of any other law. If a court has taken a Cognizance of an offence according to the rule contained in Section 177,and thereafter a change takes place in the territorial jurisdiction of such court. In Emperor v. Ganga[3] held that jurisdiction of the court to try such offence shall remain unaffected by any subsequent change in the territorial jurisdiction of the court. A Magistrate cannot be indifferent on the question of jurisdiction simply because Section 462 s there to save decision of courts which had no territorial jurisdiction to try the case, If the question of disjunction is raised the trial can be commenced only after deciding that question. The place of inquiry or trial of an offence is ordinarily to be determined by the allegation contained in ghee complaint or the police report (charge sheet) as to where and how the offence was committed. In the absence of any positive proof to the contrary, the court has to be presumed to have jurisdiction on the basis of the facts made out by the allegation.

Local areas of the commission of offence uncertain

 When it is uncertain in which of several local areas an offence was committed, it may be inquired into or tried by a court having jurisdiction over any such local areas. The words “local areas” mean obviously the local areas to which the code applies and not any local area in a foreign country. In a case involving the offence of criminal breach of trust, the property was received in place X and was dishonestly disposed of by the accused in either place X or place Y the case can be inquired into or tried by a court having local jurisdiction over palace X or Place Y[4]. When an offence is committed partly in one local area and partly in another, it may be inquired into or tried by a court having jurisdiction over any such local areas, If an offence is commenced within the local jurisdiction of one court and is completed within the local jurisdiction of another court, such an offence may be tried by either of the two courts.

Continuing offence

Where an offence is a continuing one, and continues to be committed in more local areas than one, it may be inquired into or tried by a court having jurisdiction over any such local areas. A conspiracy to commit an offence has been treated as a continuing offence. The offence of kidnapping from lawful guardianship is not a continuing offence while the offence of abduction is a continuing one. Travelling without a valid passport is a continuing offence.

Place of Trial where act is offence by reason of relation to other offence

According to Section 180 of CrPC “when an act is an offence by reason of its relation to any other act which is also an offence or which would be an offence if the doer were capable of committing an offence, the first-mentioned offence may be inquired into or tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction either act was done

  1. A charge of abatement may be inquired into or tried either by the court within whose local jurisdiction the abetment was committed or by the court within whose local jurisdiction offence abetted was committed. However if the  criminal act for which the abetment is given is not in fact actually committed, the principle enumerated above cannot apply and the offence of abetment can be tried only at the place where it has been committed.
  2. A charge of receiving or retaining stolen goods may be inquired into or tried either by the court within whose local jurisdiction the goods were stolen or by any court within whose local junction any of them was at any time dishonestly received or retained.

Place of trial in case of certain specific offences

According to Section 181 that provides for alternative local jurisdiction as to inquiry or trial in respect of certain offences:

  • Thug, or murder committed while performing the act of thug, dacoity, or dacoity with murder etc- where the offence is committed or where the accused is found.
  • Kidnapping or abduction of a person- the place from where the person was kidnapped/ abducted or where the person was concealed or conveyed or  detained.
  • Theft, extortion or robbery – the Court where the offence has been committed or where the stolen property is possessed, received or delivered, has the jurisdiction to try such a case.
  • Criminal misappropriation or criminal breach of trust- where the offence has been committed or where any part of the property which is the subject matter of the offence has been received or retained, required to be returned or accounted for, by the accused.


Section 182 deals with offences committed by letters etc. Under this section, if any offence includes cheating, if the victim has been deceived by means of letters or telecommunication messages, it shall be looked into by the Court under whose local jurisdiction such letters or messages have been sent or received; and under the local jurisdiction of the Court in which the property has been delivered by the person deceived or has been received by the accused person.

Place of inquiry or trial when the offence is committed on journey or voyage

Section 183 deals with offences which have been committed during journey or voyage. When a person commits an offence, during journey or against a person who is travelling, or the thing in respect of which, the offence has been committed is in due course of its journey or voyage, the offence has to be inquired into or tired by a Court through or into whose local jurisdiction that person or thing has passed, during the journey. The place of trial for offences which are triable together consists of two circumstances.

  • When any person commits offences, such that he may be charged with, tried at one trial  for,  each  such  offence  according to the provisions of Section 219, Section 220 or Section 221.
  • When the offence or offences have been committed by several persons, in a manner that the Court may charge and try them together, according to the provisions of Section 223.

Power of the State to order cases to be tried in different Sessions Divisions

Section 185 deals with the power of the State Government, according to which the government can direct that any cases or class of cases which have been committed for trial in any district, may be tried in a sessions court. It has to ensure that such direction is not inconsistent with any of the directions which have been already issued by any other Superior Court, as per the Constitution, or as mentioned under the Code of Criminal Procedure or under any other law for the time being in force.

High Court to decide, in case of doubt, district where inquiry or trial shall take place

Section 186 addresses the situation wherein the cognizance of a particular offence has been taken by two or more courts and confusion arises as to which of the Courts shall inquire into or try that offence, in such a case, only the High Courts have the authority to resolve the confusion. The criteria for resolving such issues are as follows.

  • If the same High Court supervises the courts involved, then by that High Court.
  • If the same High Court does not supervise the courts involved then, by the High Court  which  first  commenced  the  proceedings  as  an  appellate  criminal court. Thereafter, all the other proceedings in respect of that offence shall be discontinued.

Magistrate’s power to inquire into an offence committed outside his local jurisdiction

Section 187 states the power of a Magistrate to issue summons or warrant for offences which have been committed beyond his local jurisdiction. In such a situation the Magistrate has the authority to order such a person to be produced before him and then send him to the Magistrate of competent jurisdiction. Section 187 is available both in respect of Cognizable as well as non-cognizable offences.

Power to inquire into and try offences committed outside India

Section188 specifically deals with the case when the offence is committed outside India. These offences have to be deemed to have been committed in India, if committed by an Indian citizen, in high seas or in any other place. Also, when the offence is committed by a person who although is not an Indian citizen but is travelling by Indian aircraft or ship.

When the provisions of Section 188 are applicable, then the Central Government may, if it deems fit, direct that the copies of depositions or exhibits given to a judicial officer or before a diplomatic or consular representative of India in or for that territory shall be received as evidence by the Court holding such inquiry or trial in any case in which such Court might issue a commission for taking evidence as to the matters to which such depositions or exhibits relate.

Section 188 and Section 189  should be read together. They proceed on the basis that a fugitive is in India and can be found anywhere in India. The Court has to find the accused and the finding of the accused has to be done where the accused appears. It is clear from the above section that the accused cannot be found by a mere complaint or by the Police.

Further, it is next to impossible for the victim of an offence committed outside India, to visit India and try to ascertain the location of the accused and then approach the court. The balance of convenience is higher on the side of such a victim. Therefore, all such points have been considered while drafting Section 188 and Section 189 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The said victim has been vested with the right to approach any Court in India according to his convenience and file a case in respect of the offence committed upon him by an Indian abroad.

In the case of Reg vs. Benito Lopez[5], the issue related to the jurisdiction of English Courts for the offences committed on the high seas by foreigners who are travelling in England borne ships was questioned. It was held that the country which tried the accused did not go beyond its jurisdiction. The decision highlighted the important principle of International Law that a person is liable to be punished of all such offences, which he has committed irrespective of the place where it is committed.


Whenever an offence is committed, the first question which arises is that in whose jurisdiction the offence would fall. The jurisdictional issue is the most important issue which needs to be resolved so that the proceedings can begin without any hindrance. Sections 177-189 deals with the concept of jurisdiction. Under normal circumstances, the case shall be inquired and tried by a court under whose jurisdiction the offence has been committed.

However, there are certain cases where more than one Court have the power to inquire and try the cases. Such issues have been explicitly dealt with by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Code also mentions the circumstances when the offence is committed by an Indian citizen in a foreign country or by a foreign travelling in an aircraft or ship registered in India. The courts need to consider all the factors governing the jurisdiction and begin with the proceedings after referring to the Code of Criminal Procedure.

[1] 1 1997 Cri Lj 3134 (P&H)

2 Section 177 The C ode of Criminal Procedure 1973

3 (1912) 13 Cri LJ 575 :ILR (1912) 34

[4] State of M.P. v. k.P. Gharara 1957 Cri LJ 322:AIR 157 SC 196

[5] 1858 CR LC 431