Indian courts can try offence committed by an Indian in foreign country: Bench
But prior consent of Central Government is required
A dowry or any other offence committed by an Indian husband against his wife in a foreign country can be tried by a court in India, the Supreme Court has held.
A three-judge Bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice S.S. Nijjar said “the provisions of the Indian Penal Code have been extended to offences committed by any citizen of India in any place within and beyond India by virtue of Section 4 thereof.”
The Bench, however said that offences committed by an Indian citizen in a foreign country would be amenable to provisions of IPC subject to the limitation imposed under Section 188 CrPC, viz seeking the prior consent of the Central Government.
In the present case, appellant Thota Venkateswarlu was married to Parvatha Reddy Suneetha in November 2005 as per Hindu traditions and customs at Ongole in Andhra Pradesh. At the time of marriage Rs. 12 lakh in cash, 45 sovereigns of gold and Rs. 50,000 as ‘Adapaduchu katnam’ was alleged to have been given to the husband, mother-in-law, and other relatives of the husband.
According to Suneetha, her husband left for Botswana in January 2006 and she joined him later. While in Botswana, she was allegedly severely ill-treated and various demands were made including a demand for additional dowry of Rs. 5 lakh. Unable to withstand the torture, she sent a complaint to the Superintendent of Police, Ongole, for dowry offences under IPC as well offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The magistrate, to whom the complaint was forwarded, took cognisance and issued summons to the husband and others, who were questioned on their arrival to India.
While the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed proceedings against the appellant’s mother and two others, it dismissed his plea. The present appeal by Venkateswaralu is directed against this order.
The appellant’s wife argued that part of the offence relating to dowry was committed in Indian soil and part of the offence was committed abroad. Hence the offence could be tried in Indian courts. However, the appellant argued that he could not be tried without prior sanction from the Central Government.
Writing the judgment, Justice Kabir said it was clear that the case related to alleged dowry offence committed outside India. But since part of the offence was committed in India, the court here could try the appellant and the High Court was correct in rejecting his plea to quash the proceedings. The Bench while asking the trial court to take up the case said the trial would not proceed without sanction of the Central Government as envisaged under Section 188 CrPC.
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