HIGH COURT OF KERALA
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(1.) This is a reference by the learned Sessions Judge of Anjikaimal asking this Court to transfer a case under S.302 I.P.C., for trial to the Trichur Sessions Court on the ground that the Anjikaimal Sessions Court has no jurisdiction to try the case. The letter of reference (omitting the unnecessary portions) reads thus:-
The above Sessions Case (S.C. No. 1 of 1955) came on for trial today before this Court, when it was discovered that the place of occurrence is ......... Koratti Padinjarae Muri, within the jurisdiction of the Trichur Sessions Court. The offence with which the accused is charged is one of murder. Immediately after receiving the stab wound, the victim died on the spot. So no part of the crime or any consequence thereof has ensued within the jurisdiction of this Court. The police charge sheeted the accused before the Mukundapuram Second Class Magistrates Court (within Trichur Sessions Division). From the records of the case it is seen that the case was transferred to Crangannore Magistrates Court (within Anjikaimal Sessions Division) by the District Magistrate, Trichur, which court has committed the accused for trial to this court ............. whatever that be, unless this court has jurisdiction over the place of occurrence, this court cannot try this case. This defect of jurisdiction having been brought to the notice of this court before trial, the matter has to be referred to the High Court for further orders as per the Ruling in Ulahannan v. State ILR 1951 TC 310 = ( 1951 KLT 401 ). In the circumstances, I request you (the Registrar, High Court to place the matter before the High Court to obtain orders transferring this case for trial to the Trichur Sessions Court ...............
(2.) In the events that happened and set out above the procedure suggested by the learned Sessions judge is in accord with that laid down in the decision referred to in the order of reference. However, when the case first came up for hearing it appeared to us that though that procedure was a convenient device to overcome an awkward situation it was opposed to certain well recognised legal principles. We therefore asked the learned Public Prosecutor to investigate the matter thoroughly and place the relevant authorities before us. The accused, though produced in court on the date of the hearing of the reference, was unrepresented by a lawyer and we, therefore, asked Sri. K.C. John, Advocate to appear in the matter as amicus curiae. Sri. C.M. Kuruvila, the learned Public Prosecutor and Sri. K.C. John argued the matter elaborately and at the conclusion of the arguments we quashed the order of committal with a direction to the Magistrate to commit the case anew to the proper court. Our order proceeded to state that the reasons therefor will be delivered later. The present order embodies our reasons for quashing the order of committal and the direction to the Magistrate to pass a fresh order committing the case to the proper court. Before we proceed to discuss the question we express our indebtedness to Sri. K.C. John for the assistance he rendered to us as amicus curiae.
(3.) S.177, Criminal Procedure Code enacts that Every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction it was committed. S.206(1) provides inter alia that Magistrates belonging to the classes specified therein, may commit any person to the Court of Session. Though the section does not specify that the committal should be to a Court of Session having territorial jurisdiction over the place where the crime is committed, in view of the language of S.177 there can be no doubt that the Court of Session mentioned in S.206 is the court, which would have territorial jurisdiction over the scene of the crime. As this position is clear from the sections themselves it is unnecessary to refer to decided cases on the point though some cases discussing the question will have to be referred to in the sequel. S.193(1) states that except as otherwise expressly provided by the Code or by any other law for the time being in force, no Court of Session shall take cognizance of any offence as a Court of original jurisdiction unless the accused has been committed to it by a Magistrate duly empowered in that behalf. To invest a Sessions Court with jurisdiction to try a case there must, therefore, be proper commitment by a Magistrate. Regard being had to the provisions so far referred to, a commitment to a Court of Session which has no territorial jurisdiction over the scene of the alleged occurrence cannot be considered as proper or valid. The question for determination, therefore, is whether it can be validated by any measure taken by this court. The decision in Ulahannan v. State 1951 KLT 401 held that it can be transferred to the proper court. That is a decision by a Single Judge where some of the accused persons who were committed for trial to a wrong court applied for transfer of the case on grounds of convenience to the Court of Session which had jurisdiction over the local area of the crime and the question of the validity of the committal was incidentally raised and pronounced upon. The learned Judges order shows that there is considerable divergence of judicial opinion of the point as to whether a committal to a wrong court can be so validated.;
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