Section 188 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) – Explained!

(1) A citizen of India, whether on the high seas or elsewhere; or

(2) A person, not being such citizen, on any ship or aircraft registered in India.

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Such offender may be dealt with in respect of such offence as if it was committed at any place within India at which he may be found. But such an accused can only be tried provided the previous sanction of the Central Government has been obtained.

It may be stated that previous sanction for inquiry or trial is necessary only in those cases which are committed without and beyond India, and not in those cases which are committed within India. Thus where the offence of conspiracy to do illegal acts was committed during a meeting in Bombay and not Singapore, it was not necessary to obtain the prior sanction of the Central Government under this section for investigation and trial of the offence.

It may be reiterated that sanction of the Central Government of India for an offence committed by an Indian citizen outside India is not required at the investigation stage. This view finds support in Remia v. Sub-Inspector of Police, Tanur, decided by the Kerala High Court.

In this case, the Kerala police refused’ to entertain a complaint that one Suleman was murdered by a person named Ali in Sharjah in UAE, on the ground that it was committed outside India. The High Court directed the police to register the FIR on the basis of the complaint and initiate steps for extradition of the accused who was an Indian Citizen.

This view is further supported by the same High Court in its decision in Mohd. Sajeed v. State of Kerala, wherein the Court ruled that what is prohibited in the Proviso to Section 188 is only inquiry or trial without the previous sanction of the Central Government and not investigation by the police for the purposes of collection of evidence.

The Supreme Court in Om Hemrajani v. State of Uttar Pradesh observed that the scheme underlying Section 188 is to dispel any objection or plea of want of jurisdiction at the behest of a fugitive who has committed an offence in any country. If such a person is found anywhere in India, the offence can be inquired into and tried by any Court that may be approached by the victim.

The victim who has suffered at the hands of the accused on a foreign land can complain about the offence to a Court, otherwise competent, which he may find convenient. The convenience is that of the victim and not that of the accused.

The section (Section 188) does not require the victim to state in the complaint as to which place the accused may be found. It is enough to allege that the accused may be found in India. The Court where the complaint may be filed and the accused either appears voluntarily pursuant to issue of process to is brought before it involuntarily in execution of warrant, would be competent Court within the meaning of Section 188 of Cr. P.C.

The finding has to be by the Court and not by the complainant nor by the police. The section deems the offence to be committed within the jurisdiction of the Court where the accused may be found.

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