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Offences Committed On Aircraft Or Vessels Registered In India

The most crucial component of any legislation to be implemented and enforced is territorial jurisdiction. In general, state laws are not enforceable in another jurisdiction. On the contrary side, the Indian Penal Code has provisions that state that this criminal offence falls under both intra and extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Extra-territorial in the sense that it will enable a court to uphold its jurisdiction over state residents even when the crime or crimes they have committed are outside the state's territorial and legal boundaries that they are subject to imprisonment for both offences committed within and outside of our nation.

Extra-territorial crime occurs when a person gets prosecuted in a nation other than the one in which he committed the crime. The IPC is not the only piece of legislation that addresses this. There are guidelines governing the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The term "territorial jurisdiction" describes the court's authority to investigate and continue the case brought before it. The states have two different forms of territorial jurisdiction: extra-territorial and intra-territorial. Criminal offences committed inside the confines of Indian territory fall under the purview of intra-territorial jurisdiction. Extra-territorial jurisdiction, in contrast, deals with the offence committed outside of Indian territory.

The procedures of the Indian Penal Law's intra-territorial jurisdiction cover Section 2[1] of the codes. The IPC's Sections 3[2] and 4 address extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Section 4 of IPC is the enlarged version of Section 3. A person's citizenship or territory serves as their only grounds for responsibility under section 4 of the Indian Penal Code. The requirements of this section apply to Indian nationals who break the law, both inside and outside of national borders.

The following section clarifies the extent and applicability of the legislation if the offences occur outside Indian territory. Any Indian citizen who commits an offence outside India is categorically found guilty under Clause 1 and is subject to the sentence specified by the Indian Penal Code.

The terms of this section will not apply to a person if, at the time the offence was committed, he was not an Indian citizen and later attained Indian citizenship as a result of migrating to India.

Here is an instance to better comprehend this section of the IPC. If Person X, an Indian citizen, murders someone in another nation, he may be prosecuted for and found guilty of the crime as if it had been committed in any location in India.

Extension Of Code To Extra-Territorial Offences

The Indian Penal Code's Section 4[3] dictates that:
"Extra-territorial application - Any misconduct perpetrated by:
Can be prosecuted using the Code's articles, even if the wrongdoing occurred outside of its jurisdiction.

In any location, even beyond India, a citizen of India can be found.

wherever it may be, any individual on an Indian-registered aircraft or vessel can be found;

A computer resource situated in India cannot be targeted by anyone outside of India without committing an offence. This rule applies to any individual, regardless of their location.

This section is where we provide clarification on the matter at hand.

Under this Code, any act that would be punishable in India is considered an offence, regardless of where it was committed.

Sub-section (1) of section 2 in the Information Technology Act, 2000, under clause (k), defines the term "computer resource".

Section 4 explains who is liable under the Criminal Court's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

These people include:
  1. Any Indian citizen, whether in or beyond Indian territory.
    According to the case Remia v. Sub-Inspector of Police[4], the accused, an Indian resident, was charged with the murder of another Indian resident in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The court ordered the police to register an FIR after they declined to do so because they claimed they lacked jurisdiction over the matter.
  2. Any person, domestic or international, who is registered there and travelling on a ship or aircraft inside or beyond Indian territory.

In the following situations, such jurisdiction may be exercised:
  • When the offence is perpetrated on an Indian ship.
  • When the offence is carried out aboard a foreign ship while it is in Indian territorial waters.

Along with section 3[5], this provision addresses the Code's extra-territorial jurisdiction. The clause illustrates how jurisdiction can be asserted based on geography or citizenship.

Section 4 sub-section (1): The provisions of the Code are applicable to an Indian citizen, regardless of where he may have committed the offence or where he may be residing.

Even if the crime was done outside of India, it makes no difference. Because adultery is a crime under section 497[6] of the Code and an Indian citizen committed it in England, where it is not a felony, he is guilty of the crime.

Sub-section (2): If a person commits adultery, which is a crime under section 497 of the Code, but in England, where it is not a felony, therefore, he is guilty of the crime.

The core concept of the international provision that a ship on the high seas is a maritime territory of the nation whose flag she is displaying is affirmed in the second paragraph of this section. The concept has been applied to aircraft as well. As a result, this law gives the Indian court's jurisdiction over offences committed by any individual, whether Indian or foreign, aboard any ship or aircraft registered in India, regardless of where it is.

An Indian ship anywhere it sails, whether in international waters or any other bodies of water, and an Indian aircraft anywhere it flies are Indian territory, and any offence committed on them by any person of any nationality is subject to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

Landmark Cases:
  • Mayer Hans George v. State [7]
    The German national was the defendant. On a Swiss plane that was in transit and travelling from Zurich to Manila, he was his route to Bombay. He didn't exit the plane; he stayed inside. Under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947, he failed to make a declaration concerning the gold he was in possession of. His prosecution and conviction under Indian law were upheld by the Supreme Court as legal.
  • Samarudeen v. Asstt. Director of Enforcement, Trivandrum [8]
    The Kerala High Court ruled the petition requesting guidance for the police to investigate an offence committed outside of India is inadmissible since the legal basis for the claim was established outside of Indian territory. However, the same High Court found in Muhammed Sajeed v. State of Kerala[9] that local police can investigate a crime that was committed outside of India and that prior approval from the Central Government is not required.

Foreign nationals are liable in India for offences committed outside the territory

Either citizenship or territory serves as the foundation for a person's liability under section 4. If an Indian citizen committed the crime, or if it was done on Indian soil, the provisions of the Code are applicable. As a result, neither subsection (1) nor subsection (2) of section 4 apply to a foreign citizen who commits an offence beyond the borders of India, making him immune from the purview of the Indian Penal Code.

In the instance of Pirtai, a foreign individual who was a resident of another nation encouraged the commission of an offence that was afterwards committed on Indian soil. It was decided that he could not be held accountable for the incident because he was neither an Indian citizen nor was the incitement made on Indian soil.

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

According to this, even if a person commits a crime outside of India, he may still face punishment there, no matter where they are located. The crime that was done is now known to be illegal in India as well, though. I would like not to state that this part has been expanded, but rather that its procedural component should be seen.

To grasp the necessary procedural formalities, one might proceed with Section 105[10] CRPC, where the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty[11] has been ratified by Nations. It will improve the efficacy of both Nations in criminal investigation and prosecution through collaboration and mutual legal help in criminal situations.

The Indian Assembly must amend the Indian Criminal Code to reflect national territory, as it was already stated:
  • Firstly, it would be advisable to eliminate the clause that states that anyone who commits an offence on Indian soil will be punished under the IPC provisions. In the modern world, where other law provisions specify penalties for specific crimes, this can be confusing.
  • Furthermore, there must be a clear statement as to whether the marine territory is part of Indian territory, and courts cannot have the power to make such decisions, as has been the case in the past.

Within the purview of Section 4(1) of the Indian Criminal Code, immigrants who provide services to both the State and Central Governments must be included.

The Indian Criminal Code states that cybercrimes must be included in the territorial jurisdiction's purview in order to prosecute individuals who conduct them outside of India.

Interpreting Section 188 of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 with Section 4 of Indian Penal Code 1860

Outside India, when an offence has occurred as per Section 188 of the CrPC:

  1. Whether on the high seas or elsewhere, a citizen of India may submit.
  2. On any ship or aircraft registered in India, it is not allowed for a non-citizen to carry out.

He may be prosecuted for the crime if he is discovered in any location inside India where it was committed:

But, regardless of what is said in any of the sections before this one, no such offence may be investigated or prosecuted in India without the prior approval of the Central Government.

This Section is tied to Section 4 of the IPC, which addresses extraterritorial jurisdiction. There is one amendment to Section 188, nonetheless, that deserves special attention.

It implies that prior approval or consent from the Central Government is required to investigate or bring charges against a person for an offence committed outside the jurisdiction of India.

In Samaruddin v. Deputy Director of Enforcement[12], the Supreme Court decided that Indian courts lack the power to try any offence committed outside of Indian territory unless the Central Government expressly authorises it.

Admiralty Jurisdiction

The admiralty jurisdiction grants the ability to punish offences committed on the high seas. The fundamental principle of Admiralty Jurisdiction is that a ship drifting on the high seas is equivalent to a series of islands. Incorporating admiralty jurisdiction into Indian laws was aided by British legislation such as the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act of 1890, the Admiralty Offences Act of 1849, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, and the Indian Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act of 1891.

In the following situations, Admiralty jurisdiction may be used:

  • When the crime is committed on an Indian ship.
  • When the offence is carried out aboard a foreign ship while it is in Indian territorial waters.
In the famous trial of the Republic of Italy v. Union of India, Ambassador[13]: Off the coast of Kerala, two Indian fishermen were killed while travelling on St. Antony, which was being shot on by the Italian marines aboard the Italian cruiser Enrica Lexie.

The occurrence happened 20.5 nautical miles offshore off the Indian coast, within India's Exclusive Economic Zone. Enrica Lexie was seized by the Indian Coast Guard near the Lakshadweep Islands and ordered to go to Kochi. Following this, two Italian Marines were detained and accused of murder.

Italy contested the arrest before the court, claiming that India lacked jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place because the event took place on international waters rather than Indian territorial waters. Italy shed light on a clause in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) known as Article 97[14]. UNCLOS states that criminal proceedings arising from a collision or a transit event on the high seas can only be instituted by the flag state of the vessel involved.

India, on the other hand, based its assertions of jurisdiction on domestic law, which gives Indian courts the authority to try any individual, citizen, or foreigner, for an offence committed on board a ship with an Indian registry. The Court ruled that India had jurisdiction under the notice it gave in accordance with the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and as a result, the matter may be tried there. The court also ruled that Kerala's government has no authority to exercise this jurisdiction; only the Indian government has such authority

To administer justice within a certain area of power, a legal body must be granted jurisdiction, which is the practical authority or dominion that is granted to that organization. Courts, government offices, law enforcement organisations, and other entities fall within the definition of a "legal body."

When it comes to a judicial authority, jurisdiction refers to the bounds or scope of that authority's ability to handle cases, appeals, and other legal actions. To guarantee that only those things that fall within the territorial and financial bounds of the court are decided and tried, the notion of jurisdiction was introduced. The legislature frequently enacts laws pertaining to a jurisdiction that is helpful in suitably distributing justice. By improving the organization and organization of the legal system, the nation will become a better place to live.

Despite the fact that there have been several cases involving the jurisdiction of the criminal courts, the laws and courts have made explicit provisions in the matter. Unfortunately, not every area of jurisdiction has been covered by these regulations, and the system is still unclear in this regard.

Improvements to these regulations are required to guarantee that both Indian residents and foreign nationals are held accountable for offences committed within the IPC's purview.

  1. Punishment of offences committed within India.
  2. Punishment of offences committed beyond, but which by law may be tried within.
  3. Sec 4, Indian Penal Code, 1860
  4. 1993 CriLJ 1098
  5. Supra note 2
  6. Sec. 497, Indian Penal Code, 1860
  7. 1965 AIR 722, 1965 SCR (1) 123
  8. 1995 CriLJ 2825
  9. 1995 CriLJ 3313
  10. Reciprocal arrangements regarding processes
  11. In criminal matters are the bilateral treaties, entered between the countries for providing international cooperation and assistance.
  12. 1995 CriLJ 2825
  13. (2013) 9 SC 89
  14. Penal jurisdiction in matters of collision or any other incident of navigation

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