Section 299 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is a legal provision that allows Indian courts to exercise jurisdiction over an offence committed by any person on a ship or aircraft registered in India while it is outside India. This means that such persons can be prosecuted and punished as if they had committed the offence within the territorial limits of India.
The relevant sections of law dealing with this issue are Section 2(8) and Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which define what constitutes an “offence” under Indian law, and empower Indian courts to exercise jurisdiction over offences committed outside India in certain circumstances.
Some important case laws related to Section 299 include:
1. M.R. Shivanna vs Customs Officer: In this case, the Supreme Court held that even though an alleged smuggling offence was committed on a foreign-registered ship outside India’s territorial waters, it could still be tried in India because the vessel was owned by an Indian company and had been chartered by them for commercial purposes.
2. State v Mehar Singh: In another significant case, the Punjab & Haryana High Court ruled that where a murder is committed on board an Indian-registered aircraft flying from one foreign country to another, such offence can be investigated and tried in India since it pertains to a clear violation of both domestic law as well as international conventions governing aviation safety.
3. Anokhilal vs State Of Rajasthan: The Rajasthan High Court held that if there is evidence to show that the accused person boarded an aircraft knowing fully well about his criminal past or active arrest warrants issued against him within some other jurisdiction (either national or international), then he/she may stand liable for prosecution under IPC provisions like Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) or 216A (penalty for harbouring offenders).
4. Sankar Ramakrishnan v Union Of india : In this key judgement relating to extradition requests made by foreign governments, the Supreme Court elucidated on issues such as transnational criminality, jurisdictional limitations and “double jeopardy” considerations when trying persons for the same offence in multiple jurisdictions.
For Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Section 299 can have significant implications. It means that if an NRI commits a crime on board an Indian-registered ship or aircraft while it is outside India’s territorial waters, they could be subject to prosecution in India. This applies not only to criminal offences but also civil disputes arising from accidents, injury or loss of property caused while travelling on such vessels.
In conclusion, Section 299 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been enacted with a view to ensure that Indian law enforcement agencies are equipped to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by Indian nationals even beyond its borders. The provision helps safeguard national security interests and uphold international obligations relating to common areas like maritime safety and aviation standards. As NRIs continue to travel overseas for business or pleasure purposes , understanding these provisions become ever more important for their legal compliance as well as personal safety whilst abroad