A division bench of Supreme Court passed this Judgment around filing of anticipatory bail petition u/s 438 Cr.P.C.
From Paras 40-41, 44-47, (Regd grant of limited Anticipatory bail in HC/Sessions Court in accused’s local State, outside the State in which FIR is registered)
40. We are conscious that this may also lead the accused to choose the Court of his choice for seeking anticipatory bail. Forum shopping may become the order of the day as the accused would choose the most convenient Court for seeking anticipatory bail. This would also make the concept of territorial jurisdiction which is of importance under the CrPC pale into insignificance. Therefore, in order to avoid the abuse of the process of the Court as well as the law by the accused, it is necessary for the Court before which the plea for anticipatory bail is made, to ascertain the territorial connection or proximity between the accused and the territorial jurisdiction of the Court which is approached for seeking such a relief. Such a link with the territorial jurisdiction of the Court could be by way of place of residence or occupation/work/profession. By this, we imply that the accused cannot travel to any other State only for the purpose of seeking anticipatory bail. The reason as to why he is seeking such bail from a Court within whose territorial jurisdiction the FIR has not been filed must be made clear and explicit to such a Court. Also there must be a reason to believe or an imminent apprehension of arrest for a non-bailable offence made out by the accused for approaching the Court within whose territorial jurisdiction the FIR is not lodged or the inability to approach the Court where the FIR is lodged immediately.
41. Having regard to the vastness of our country and the length and breadth of it and bearing in mind the complex nature of life of the citizens, if an offence has been committed by a person in a particular State and if the FIR is filed in another State and the accused is a resident in a third State, bearing in mind access to justice, the accused who is residing in the third State or who is present there for a legitimate purpose should be enabled to seek the relief of limited anticipatory bail of transitory nature in the third State.
44. Further, on a reading of Section 438 of CrPC, we do not find that the expression “the High Court” or “the Court of Session” is restricted vis-à-vis the local limits or any particular territorial jurisdiction. However, this does not mean that if an FIR is lodged in one State then the accused can approach the Court in another State for seeking anticipatory bail. He can do so, if at the time of lodging of the FIR in any State, he is residing or is present there for a legitimate purpose in any other State. In fact, on a reading of Section 438 of CrPC, it does not emerge that the expression “the High Court” or “the Court of Session” must have reference only to the place or territorial jurisdiction within which the FIR is lodged. If that was the implication, the same would have been expressly evident in the Section itself or by a necessary implication. Further use of the word “the” before the words “High Court” and “Court of Session” also does not mean that only the High Court or the Court of Session, as the case may be, within whose jurisdiction the FIR is filed, is competent to exercise jurisdiction for the grant of transit anticipatory bail.
45. At the same time, we are also mindful of the fact that the accused cannot seek full-fledged anticipatory bail in a State where he is a resident when the FIR has been registered in a different State. However, in view of what we have discussed above, he would be entitled to seek a transit anticipatory bail from the Court of Session or High Court in the State where he is a resident which necessarily has to be of a limited duration so as to seek regular anticipatory bail from the Court of competent jurisdiction. The need for such a provision is to secure the liberty of the individual concerned. Since anticipatory bail as well as transit anticipatory bail are intrinsically linked to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and since we have extended the concept of access to justice to such a situation and bearing in mind Article 14 thereof it would be necessary to give a constitutional imprimatur to the evolving provision of transit anticipatory bail. Otherwise, in a deserving case, there is likelihood of denial of personal liberty as well as access to justice for, by the time the person concerned approaches the Court of competent jurisdiction to seek anticipatory bail, it may well be too late as he may be arrested. Needless to say, the Court granting transit anticipatory bail would obviously examine the degree and seriousness of the apprehension expressed by the person who seeks transit anticipatory bail; while the object underlying exercise of such jurisdiction is to thwart arbitrary police action and to protect personal liberty besides providing immediate access to justice though within a limited conspectus.
46. If a rejection of the plea for limited/transitory anticipatory bail is made solely with reference to the concept of territorial jurisdiction it would be adding a restriction to the exercise of powers under Section 438. This, in our view, would result in miscarriage and travesty of justice, aggravating the adversity of the accused who is apprehending arrest. It would also be against the principles of access to justice. We say so for the reason that an accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt and in accordance with law. In the circumstances, we hold that the Court of Session or the High Court, as the case may be, can exercise jurisdiction and entertain a plea for limited anticipatory bail even if the FIR has not been filed within its territorial jurisdiction and depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case, if the accused apprehending arrest makes out a case for grant of anticipatory bail but having regard to the fact that the FIR has not been registered within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court or Court of Session, as the case may, at the least consider the case of the accused for grant of transit anticipatory bail which is an interim protection of limited duration till such accused approaches the competent Sessions Court or the High Court, as the case may be, for seeking full-fledged anticipatory bail.
47. There can also be a case where the accused is facing multiple FIRs for the same offence in several States. He may seek an interim protection from a particular Sessions Court or the High Court in a State. Does he have to move from State to State for the purpose of seeking anticipatory bail or seek multiple pre-arrest bails? We would not attempt to give an answer to such a situation as the facts of the present case do not involve such a situation.
From Para 48, (Regd diluting the jurisdiction of Court to try the Sec 498a IPC cases, by going against many earlier judgments)
Priya Indoria Vs State of Karnataka and Ors on 20 Nov 2023
48. Another issue that calls for reiteration is, whether, the ordinary place of inquiry and trial would include the place where the complainant-wife resides after being separated from her husband. The position of law regarding the ordinary place of investigation and trial as per Section 177 of the CrPC, especially in matrimonial cases alleging cruelty and domestic violence, alleged by the wife, has advanced from the view held in the case of State of Bihar vs. Deokaran Nenshi, (1972) 2 SCC 890; Sujata Mukherjee (Smt.) vs. Prashant Kumar Mukherjee, (1997) 5 SCC 30; Y. Abraham Ajith vs. Inspector of Police, Chennai, (2004) 8 SCC 100, Ramesh vs. State of T.N. (2005) 3 SCC 507; Manish Ratan vs. State of M.P., (2007) 1 SCC 262 that if none of the ingredients constituting the offence can be said to have occurred within the local jurisdiction, that jurisdiction cannot be the ordinary place of investigation and trial of a matrimonial offence. A three judge Bench of this Court has however clarified in Rupali Devi vs. State of U.P., (2019) 5 SCC 384 (Rupali Devi) that adverse effects on mental health of the wife even while residing in her parental home on account of the acts committed in the matrimonial home would amount to commission of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A at the parental home. It was held that the Courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving or being driven away from the matrimonial home on account of acts of cruelty committed by the husband or his relatives, would, depending on the factual situation, also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences under Section 498-A of the IPC.