Supreme Court’s Lack of Territorial Jurisdiction Can Invalidate Trial Proceedings of an Offender under Section 462(1) of CrPC  

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Justice V. Ramasubramanian explained that when a Magistrate is not empowered to conduct a trial of an offence, such proceedings are void. Also, when a Court having no territorial jurisdiction conducts a trial for an offender, such proceedings are void under Section 462(1) of CrPC. 

Facts of the Case

The Petitioners have filed a transfer petition to transfer their criminal cases from Haryana to New Delhi. The said transfer is sought on two grounds, lack of territorial jurisdiction and a definite apprehension of bias. 

Petitioner’s Arguments 

The entire cause of action in respect of one case arose in Delhi, for the second case arose in Indore and for the third case arose in Surat.  

Respondents’ Arguments 

The Counsel for the Second respondent contends that the question of the cause of action is a question of fact to be established by evidence. It cannot be gone into in the transfer petitions. Also, in the loan granted to the Petitioner Company, the property offered as security is located in Gurugram. The Respondent was also actually sharing the office space of a company which is a 100% subsidiary of the Respondent.

Court’s Observations

The Bench explained that the jurisdiction in criminal court depends on two aspects, the offence and the offender. Chapter 35 of the CrPC answers the question about what happens when a court has no territorial jurisdiction, inquires, or tries an offence. Section 461(1) of the CrPC makes the trial proceedings void if the Court is not empowered to conduct the trial of the offender. This clause focuses on the offender and not on the offence.

The Bench noted that there are two types of jurisdictional issues for a Criminal Court. The power of the Court to try particular kinds of offences and the Court’s territorial jurisdiction. The Magistrate has the power to try a particular offence, but the controversy relates to his territorial jurisdiction. The case would be covered by the saving clause under Section 462 of the CrPC. Justice Ramasubramanian observed that the words “try an offence” are more appropriate than the words “tries an offender” in section 461 (l). This is because a lack of jurisdiction to try an offence cannot be cured by section 462. Hence, section 461 could have included the trial of an offence by a Magistrate, not empowered by law to do so, as one of the several items which make the proceedings void.

In contrast, the trial of an offender by a court which does not have territorial jurisdiction can be saved because of section 462. Provided there is no other bar for the court to try the said offender. But clause 1 of Section 461 makes the proceedings of a Magistrate void, when the trial is conducted but not empowered by law to do so.

Court’s Decision

The Court dismissed the transfer petitions due to a lack of evidence to prove the absence of jurisdiction.


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