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Patna HC exceeded its jurisdiction: SC

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    22nd Jul, 2022

Context

Patna HC exceeded jurisdiction by summoning Sahara group chief Subrata Roy in an anticipatory bail case, says Supreme Court.

About

What is the issue?

  • The Supreme Court held that it is not open for High Courts to implead third parties in the exercise of powers under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the provision that deals with anticipatory bail.
  • The court's examination of a bail plea should be confined to the facts of the particular case and not wander into other areas.
  • According to the view of the Supreme Court, it is impermissible and cannot be countenanced.

Types of Bail in India:

  • Regular Bail: It is a direction given by the Court (any Court within the country) to release a person who is already under arrest and kept in police custody. For such Bail, a person can file an application under Sections 437 and 439 of the CrPC.
  • Interim Bail: Bail granted for a temporary and short period by the Court till the application seeking Anticipatory Bail or Regular Bail is pending before a Court.
  • Anticipatory Bail: A direction issued to release a person on Bail even before the person is arrested. In this situation, there is an apprehension of arrest and the person is not arrested before the Bail is granted. For such Bail, a person can file an application under Sec. 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). It is issued only by the Sessions Court and High Court.

Who can apply for an Anticipatory Bail?

  • Any Indian citizen accused of a cognizable or non-cognizable offense and expecting arrest can approach a Sessions Court or High Court to get an Anticipatory Bail.
  • Generally, people apply for Anticipatory Bails when they believe that they have been falsely implicated in a case or have been subject to trumped-up charges and might get arrested.
  • The rules concerning Anticipatory Bail are governed by Section 438(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code. If the Court sees merit in the application, it may direct the concerned authorities to release the applicant on bail in the event of an arrest.

Cognizable Offences:

  • A cognizable offense is an offense in which the police officer under any other law for the time being in force, can arrest the convict without a warrant and can start an investigation without the permission of the court.
  • Cognizable offenses are generally heinous or serious in nature such as murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, dowry death, etc. The first information report (FIR) is registered only in cognizable crimes.

Non-cognizable Offences:

  • A non-cognizable offense is the offense listed under the Indian Penal Code and is bailable in nature. In the case of a non-cognizable offense, the police cannot arrest the accused without a warrant as well as cannot start an investigation without the permission of the court. The crimes of forgery, cheating, defamation, public nuisance, etc., fall in the category of non-cognizable crimes.

What Is Jurisdiction?

  • Jurisdiction can be defined as the limit of a judicial authority or the extent to which a court of law can exercise its authority over suits, cases, appeals, etc.
  • The rationale behind introducing the concept of jurisdiction in law is that a court should be able to try and adjudicate only in those matters with which it has some connection or which fall within the geographical or political or pecuniary limits of its authority.

In 1921 Calcutta High Court judgment (HridayNath Roy v. Ram Chandra) sought to explain the meaning of the term ‘jurisdiction’ in great detail.

  • the power to hear and determine issues of law and fact
  • the authority to hear and decide a legal controversy
  • the power to hear and determine the subject matter in controversy between parties to a suit
  • the power to hear, determine and pronounce judgment on the issues before the Court
  • the power or authority which is conferred upon a Court by the Legislature to hear ‘the power to enquire into the facts, to apply the law, to pronounce the judgment and to carry it into execution

Types of Jurisdictions:

In India, there are mainly 5 types of jurisdictions which can be classified as follows:

  1. Subject-matter jurisdiction: It can be defined as the authority vested in a court of law to try and hear cases of a particular type and pertaining to a particular subject matter. For example, District Forums established under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 have jurisdiction over only consumer-related cases. It cannot try criminal cases.
  2. Territorial jurisdiction: Under this type of jurisdiction, the geographical limits of a court’s authority are delineated and specified. It cannot exercise authority beyond that territorial/geographical limit.

Some of the other types of jurisdictions include:

  • Concurrent jurisdiction: A situation in which more than one court of law has the jurisdiction to try certain matters. Sometimes, this type of jurisdiction is also referred to as ‘co-ordinate jurisdiction’.
  • Admiralty jurisdiction: Jurisdiction pertaining to mercantile and maritime law and cases.
  • Probate jurisdiction: Matters concerning the administration of an estate belonging to a dead person and its guardianship come under probate jurisdiction. For example, cases involving the administration and execution of the will of a deceased person.
  • Summary jurisdiction: It refers to the authority of a court to try matters in accordance with the summary procedure. Such cases take the form of summary trials in order to speedily resolve a dispute.
  1. Pecuniary jurisdiction: Pecuniary means ‘related to money. Pecuniary jurisdiction tries to address whether a court of law can try cases and suits of the monetary value/amount of the case or suit in question. For example, consumer courts have different pecuniary jurisdictions. A district forum can try cases of value up to Twenty lakh rupees only.
  2. Original jurisdiction: It refers to the authority of a court to take cognizance of cases that can be tried and adjudicated upon in those courts in the first instance itself. It is different from appellate jurisdiction in the sense that in the case of the latter, the courts rehear and review an already decided matter whereas in the case of the former the cases are tried for the very first time.
  3. Appellate jurisdiction: It refers to the authority of a court to rehear or review a case that has already been decided by a lower court. Appellate jurisdiction is generally vested in higher courts. In India, both the High Courts and the Supreme Court have appellate jurisdiction to hear matters which are brought in the form of appeal before them. They can either overrule the judgment of the lower court or uphold it. At times they can also modify the sentence.

Lack of jurisdiction and irregular exercise of jurisdiction:

  • Whenever the suit is made before the court the initial issue is to decide whether the court has jurisdiction to deal with the matter. If the court has all the three territorial, pecuniary, or subject matter jurisdictions then simply the court has the power to deal with any of the cases.
  • If the court does not have any of jurisdiction, then it will be recognized as a lack of jurisdiction and irregular exercise of jurisdiction.
  • When the court does not have jurisdiction to decide the case then such a decision will be regarded as void or voidable depending upon the circumstances.

The basis to determine jurisdiction is determined mainly on the grounds of:

  1. Fiscal value
  2. Geographical boundaries of a court
  3. The subject matter of court

JURISDICTION OF HIGH COURT:

Original jurisdiction of High Court:

  • The Constitution of India does not give a detailed description of the original jurisdiction of the High Court.
    • It is accepted that the original jurisdiction of a High Court is exercised by the issue of Writs to any person or authority including the Government.
  • Article 226 of the Constitution vests in the High Court the power to issue writs for the restoration of fundamental rights and also in cases of other legal rights.
    • This power of the High Court does not derogate the similar power conferred on the Supreme Court in Article 32 of the Constitution.
  • The original jurisdiction of the High Court also extends to the matters of admiralty, probate, matrimonial, and contempt of court cases.
  • The High Courts have also full powers to make rules to regulate their business in relation to the administration of justice. It can punish for its own contempt.
  • High Courts have been given original jurisdiction over cases arising out of Parliament or state legislature elections.

Appellate Jurisdiction of High Court:

  • The appellate jurisdiction of the High Court extends to both civil and criminal cases.
  • In civil cases, its jurisdiction extends to cases tried by Courts of Munsifs and District judges.
  • In the criminal cases, it extends to cases decided by Sessions and Additional Sessions Judges.

Scope of Jurisdiction of High courts in the matters of anticipatory bail:

  • The scope of inquiry of the High Court is quite narrow in an anticipatory bail application under Section 438 Cr. P.C
  • The application is limited to the concerned applicant and the offense registered against them, the Court's inquiry ought to be restricted to the facts relevant to the applicant before the court.
  • Any inquiry into matters pertaining to third parties, especially when it is beyond the scope of the complaint, is impermissible.
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