Indian Courts can try Offences Committed Outside India

Indian courts can to try offences committed by Indians abroad

When any offence involving an Indian citizen is committed outside of India, Indian courts can try the case, but the trial should be conducted with the prior sanction of the Central Government, under Section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), says Telangana High Court in two Criminal Petitions No 6110 of 2022 and 6074 of 2022.

The offences alleged in this case were registered under Sections 498A, 417, 406 and 506 Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

Accused alleged the criminal case is a counterblast

The petitioners/accused in this case stated that the de facto complainant and the accused/husbands were residents of the USA and had solemnized their wedding there. They also had a child in the USA. The accused/husband contended that he had filed the divorce case before the Foreign Court, and as a counter blast, the de facto complainant basing on a vague and unrelated incident that happened during their trip to India, filed the present case.

If incident occurred in India no sanction required

The de facto complainant on the other hand contended that when they were in India, in 2020 the accused/husband had demanded dowry and based on that incident the complainant was filed.

She provided specific dates and amounts given to the accused as dowry and pleaded that even if one incident occurred in India, no prior consent would be required to try that offense.

Charge sheet does not show any instance of crime

But the court, in this case, finds that the charge sheet did not disclose any offence against the accused that were committed in India.

All offences in the charge sheet were committed outside of India and would require the sanction of the Central Government.

De facto complainant argues if any incident happened no sanction needed

The contention of the learned Senior Counsel for the de facto complainant that even if one incident has occurred in India, then previous sanction of the Central Government is not necessary, is not in accordance with law.

If the petitioners were to be tried for any of the offences in India, it can only be in respect of the incident that has happened in India.

HC quashed the proceedings without sanction u/s 188 CrPC

The Telangana High Court quashed criminal proceedings initiated in India against a husband and in-laws based on incidents of dowry demand that were made outside of India.

SC says sanction not needed when a part of the offence was committed in India

The sanction under Section 188 of the CrPC will not be attracted if a part of the offence was committed in India, as the Supreme Court (SC) says, in Sartaj Khan v State of Uttarakhand.

Similarly, sanction is not needed to investigate into the offence, as the prohibition is regarding trial of the case, as Kerala High Court says in Mohammed Sajeed v State of Kerala [1995 CRILJ 3313], and some other cases.

Kerala High Court reiterates the position

The Kerala High Court in Darvin Dominic v State Of Kerala reiterates that the Trial Court should not proceed with criminal prosecution under Section 498A of the IPC without previous sanction from the Central Government when an offence of marital cruelty was entirely committed outside India by an Indian National.

Evidence produced outside can be received by Indian courts

When an inquiry or trial of an offence committed outside is tried in a court in India, the Indian court can receive as evidence, the depositions or exhibits produced before the courts outside India. The Indian court can allow commissions also to collect further evidence.

Sections 3 & 4 of the IPC allows extra territorial application of laws

The Section 3 of the IPC says a person liable by any Indian law may be tried for an offence committed outside India shall be dealt with according to the provisions of IPC as if the offence has been committed within India.

The Section 4 of the IPC says that the provisions of the IPC shall apply to any offence committed by any citizen of India in any place beyond India.

In other words, if an Indian citizen commits a murder in Uganda he can be tried and convicted of murder in any place in India, in which he may be found.

Reciprocal relation India & Indian courts have with other countries

The Union Government of India has some reciprocal arrangements to be made by Central Government with the Foreign Governments regarding the service of summons/warrants/judicial processes, under the Section 105 of the CrPC.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has entered into Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty/Agreements with many countries which provide for serving of documents, as per its 2009 Guidelines in this regard.

Since many criminal offences relating to marriages of Indians with  overseas Indians are cropping up incessantly, it would be useful to read the government’s advisory titled  FAQ on how to address issues related to Marriages of Indian nationals to Overseas Indians.

Implementation of these provisions is not easy

Such provisions were enacted by the colonial rulers at that time for enforcing rule of law among those who work outside on behalf of the government.

Despite those legal provisions exist, the implementation of them as of now is not an easy task.


  1. Criminal Petitions before the Telangana High Court No 6110 of 2022 and No 6074 of 2022
  2. Sartaj Khan v State of Uttarakhand
  3. Indian Penal Code, 1860
  4. The Code of Criminal Proceedure, 1973
  5. Guidelines of MHA in regard to marriages and family matters
  6. FAQ on how to address issues related to Marriages of Indian nationals to Overseas Indians