File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

From Alpha-to-Omega: Jurisdiction of IPC

'Jurisdiction', as a general term, refers to the scope of authority or control exercised over matters of administration of justice. Jurisdiction of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 hence refers to the scope of matters over which the provisions of IPC would apply and if violated, would lead to certain penal consequences. The jurisdiction of the Indian Penal Code is laid down in sections 2 to 5 of the Indian Penal Code itself, as would be elucidated upon in this blog post.

The Intra-Territorial Jurisdiction Of IPC

Section 2 talks about the intra-territorial jurisdiction of the Indian Penal Code, referring to the locality and place of the commission of an offence and declares that any person who is committing any act or omitting upon an action that is contrary to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code shall be liable for punishment. Section 2 is reproduced as follows:

"Punishment of offences committed within India-Every person shall be liable to punishment under this Code and not otherwise for every act or omission contrary to the provisions thereof, of which he shall be guilty within".

The nationality of the offender is irrelevant and the place of commission of the offence is material. Also, 'within India' includes not only land and internal waters of India, but also includes the maritime territory of India. The public as well as private ships of Indians is in foreign waters is also included. Not just waters, but the air also comes under the territory, as due to the application of Roman law maxim cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, i.e., whoever is the owner of the soil, it is his even to the firmament, and to the centre of the earth, meaning that property extends as upwards to the limits of atmosphere and as downwards to the soil and further to the core of the Earth.[1]

'Every person' under this section includes everyone committing offence within the territory of India, irrespective of his nationality or status. Person includes even foreigners or non-citizens committing such an offence, even in those cases where the offence was initiated outside the territory of India, but the offence takes effect on the territory of India. But, non-judicial persons like corporations are excluded and can only be made 'vicariously liable' for the offences committed by its agents, servants or director. The reason for exclusion is that offences like dacoity, bigamy, rape, etc., can be committed by natural persons or humans only.

In State of Maharashtra v. M.S. George[2], it was held by the SC that ignorance of the law by a person travelling to India on grounds of unawareness of the law of the land is immaterial for the consideration by Indian Courts. Hence, a foreigner cannot seek ignorance of law of land as a defence to dodge punishment under Indian Penal Code.

In Mobarik Ali v. State of Bombay[3], the offender, who was staying at Karachi at that time when he made a false representation to the complainant, who was staying in Bombay, regarding a particular agreement for supply of Rice. The offender them moved to England, and was bought to Bombay therefrom, so as to convict him under Section 420 of Indian Penal Code for cheating. This conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court as was held by the Court that the corporal presence of the offender, at the time of commission of the offence, within the territory of India is immaterial. Hence, the offence was considered to be committed at Bombay.

Although, there are certain exemptions to certain authorities of high dignity and status, that are based on conventions of agreements of understandings between the nation, like exemption from criminal prosecution to Head of States, ambassadors, diplomatic agents of the foreign nations, The President of India and the Governors of the states (as enumerated under Article 361 of the Indian Constitution).

The foreign army staying within territory of India, with the consent of Government, shall be exempted, along with the warships of foreign nations that enter the Indian territory.

Alien enemies, with respect to the 'acts of war', are excluded from jurisdiction of Indian Penal Code and are to be tried by the martial law, whereas for other offences committed within the territory of India, they are subjected to Indian Penal Code only.

Section 5: The Saving Clause To Section 2.

Section 5 provides for exception to the application of Indian Penal Code, or the areas to be excluded from its jurisdiction, like those offences specifically for which any 'local law', i.e., one applicable to a particular part of India or 'special law', i.e., applicable to particular subject-matter only, has been made. It is based on the legal maxim generalia specialibus derogant[4], i.e., general laws do not prevail over special laws. Section 5 of Indian Penal Code has been reproduced as follows:

"Certain Laws not to be affected by this Act: Nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of any Act for punishing mutiny and desertion of officers, soldiers, sailors or airmen in the service of the Government of India or the provision of any special or local law."

As long as there is no conflict between Local law and Indian Penal Code, provisions of both can be applied simultaneously, but if both are conflicting to each other, then the provisions Indian Penal Code shall not be applicable.

But a person cannot be punished by both Indian Penal Code and local or special laws, in cases where there is no conflict between IPC and the local law, as it would lead to 'double jeopardy', and would be violative of Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution, providing for fundamental right to a person against double jeopardy.

Section 5 specifically mentions certain matters over which, the provisions of Indian Penal Code would not apply, provided that an Act is already in place for dealing with the same. These are the matters for punishing, mutiny and desertion of/by soldiers, sailors, airmen and officers under the service of Government of India. Like, the Army Act, 1950, would be applied to solve the issue arising in the Indian Army.

Also, Section 5 provides for protection to those who are enforcing the existing laws and preventing their violation, and for such purpose any act done by them in good faith shall not be considered an offence under Indian Penal Code.

Section 3 And 4: The Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction Of IPC

As in contrast to Section 2 providing for intra-territorial jurisdiction, Section 3 and 4 of Indian Penal Code provide for Extra-territorial jurisdiction of IPC, i.e., for those offences committed beyond the territory of India.

Firstly, under Section 3, the criminal courts have the power to try such persons who are subjected to Indian law for offences committed beyond the territory of India. For Instance, an Indian Soldier deployed in a foreign territory, commits murder in that foreign territory, shall be tried under Indian Penal Code, in such a manner as if the crime was committed within the territory of India. Section 3 has been reproduced as follows:

"Punishment of offences committed beyond, but which by law may be tried within, India- Any person liable, by any [Indian law], to be tried for an offence committed beyond [India] shall be dealt with according to the provisions of this Code for any act committed beyond [India] in the same manner as if such act had been committed within [India]."

In Kari Singh v. Emperor[5], a pre-independence case, the Calcutta High Court discussed the scope and conditions for applicability of Section 3 of Indian Penal Code, these conditions were that firstly, there should be an allegation that the person, whether citizen or not, has committed, such an act, if it was committed in India, would've been an offence under Indian Penal Code, and secondly, the person liable under some Indian law, so as to make him liable to be tried before the Indian Courts.

Another case that serves an illustrative value is Remia v. Sub-inspector of Police, Tanur[6], where an Indian citizen killed another Indian citizen in a foreign country and the police refused to file a FIR, on the ground that offence took place outside the territory of India. The Court declared such refusal as illegal and ordered the police officials to file a FIR and conduct the investigation accordingly.[7]

Then comes Section 4, which widens the ambit of Section 3 of Indian Penal Code, and is based on the principle that a sovereign state can regulate the conduct of its own citizens, wherever they reside. For instance, person having a wife in India, moves to America and marries another woman there, would be prosecuted for Bigamy in India, under Section 494 of Indian Penal Code. Section 4 of Indian Penal Code is reproduced below:

Extension of Code to extra-territorial offences:
The provisions of this Code apply also to any offence committed by:

  1. any citizen of India in any place without and beyond India;
  2. any person on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be.
  3. any person in any place without and beyond India committing offence targeting a computer resource located in India.

Explanation-In this section
  1. the word "offence" includes every act committed outside India which, if committed in India, would be punishable under this Code;
  2. the expression "computer resource" shall have the meaning assigned to it in clause (k) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000)
The section is equally applicable to the Indian citizen who commits any offence outside the boundaries or territory of India and also on the person, who commits it on the Indian territory.

In Fatima Bibi Ahmed Patel v. State of Gujrat[8], it was held that the provisions of Section 4 Indian Penal Code and any other provision of Indian Penal Code will not be applicable to a person, if at the time of the commission of the offence he was not the citizen of India and he has acquired the status of Indian citizen subsequent to the commission of that offence upon migration to India thereafter.

Clause 2 of this section provides Indian Criminal Courts with the 'Admiralty Jurisdiction' by extending operation of Indian Penal Code to those offences committed by any person on any ship or aircraft registered in Indian territory, and such a registration is indicated by the flag a vessel or an aircraft contains.

The Supreme Court of India, while deciding The Republic of Italy, v. UOI[9], ruled that India is entitled to exercise its sovereignty upto 24 nautical miles from the baseline, which is the criteria for deciding jurisdiction over the territorial waters, and hence, in this case, the Italian Vessels were charged as per Indian Penal Code in this case.

If any foreigner has committed any crime outside the territory of India and then steps back to India, he can be deported to that particular country where the offence has been committed and shall be tried according to the laws in that particular country, where he has been deported as is provided under Indian Extradition Act of 1962.

By the IT Amendment Act of 2008, new sub-clause (3) has been added in Section 4 providing for extension of jurisdiction of Indian Penal Code over offences that targets a computer resource located in India committed by any person in any place, whether inside or outside India.

As per Section 2(1)(k) of IT Act, 2000 "computer resource means computer, computer system, computer network, data, computer data base or software."

Hence, the jurisdiction of Indian Penal Code over offences beyond the territory of India has now been extended to technological matters as well.

The jurisdiction of Indian Penal Code extends not only to intra-territorial offences, but even wider than that, to the extra-territorial offences. Also, recently the jurisdiction has been extended further to the IT-related matters in the wake of globalization and technological upgradation, which further led to an increase in technology-related offences, taking place not just within but also beyond the territory of India

  1. K.D. Gaur, Indian Penal Code (7th edn, Lexis Nexis 2020) 51.
  2. State of Maharashtra v. M.S. George, (1965) 1 SCR 123.
  3. Mobarik Ali v. State of Bombay, 1958 SCR 328.
  4. K.D. Gaur, 62.
  5. Kari Singh v. Emperor, 1912 SCC OnLine Cal 341.
  6. Remia v. Sub-inspector of Police, Tanur, 1993 Cri LJ 1098.
  7. 'Extra-territorial Jurisdiction' (The Indian Law, 11 October 2020) < > accessed on 18 June 2023.
  8. Fatima Bibi Ahmed Patel v. State of Gujrat, (2008) 6 SCC 789.
  9. The Republic of Italy, v. Union of India, (2013) 9 SC 89.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly