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Territorial Jurisdiction of States

Territorial Jurisdiction refers to the court’s power to inquire and proceed with the trial of the matter presented before it. This article dives deep into the subject matter.

The court’s power to inquire and proceed with the trial of the matter presented before it is called territorial jurisdiction. It determines the authority of state and federal courts to bind the parties to the action. 

There are two types of territorial jurisdiction of the states: Intra-territorial jurisdiction and extra-territorial jurisdiction. Intra-territorial jurisdiction deals with the crimes committed within the boundaries of the Indian territory. In contrast, extra-territorial jurisdiction deals with the crimes committed beyond the boundaries of the Indian territory. 

Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the proceedings of the Intra-territorial jurisdiction of the code. Section 3 and Section 4 of the IPC deal with extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Intra-territorial jurisdiction

According to Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code, any person involved in committing an act or omitting an act that contradicts the provisions of the code, he or she shall be conferred punishment without any biases based on nationality, caste, rank, or creed. This act applies if only a person commits the act or omits the act within the boundaries of the Indian territory. 

Even a foreign national, if held for committing a crime within the territory of the Indian state, will have to face the consequences of this Indian law. There is a class of people who are exempted from and are immune to these laws and criminal liability. This class includes the foreign sovereign, enemy aliens, diplomats, warships, president, foreign army, and governors.

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Extra-territorial jurisdiction

According to Section 3 and Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code, extra-territorial jurisdiction comes into power when a crime is trialled in a country other than the one in which it was committed. In such a case, this section gives power to the court to try a person who has committed the crime, provided they are subject to Indian laws. The person will be held for an offence in the same way as if such a crime has been committed within India. Under this section, not only Indian citizens are liable for an offence they committed abroad, but also people who are covered by any special law, bringing them under the Indian jurisdiction.

Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code expands the scope of the application of Section 3 of the act. According to this section of the IPC, if a person has committed a crime beyond the limits of the Indian territory but is found or captured within the Indian territory, there could be two scenarios. The person can be extradited and sent to the nation where the crime has been committed or tried per the Indian criminal laws.


An extradition is an act or a process where a state requests another to surrender a criminal or a fugitive offender for a trial or prosecution of the crime. According to the Supreme Court of India, extradition is a delivery of one state to another of those it is desired to deal with for crimes of which they have been accused or convicted and are justifiable in courts of other states. Extraditable persons include criminals who are yet to undergo a trial, under trial criminals and convicted individuals who have managed to escape custody. 

The crimes committed by the individuals should be a punishable law in the requesting state and committed outside the state of refugee. Another critical factor is that the two states should have entered into the extradition treaty. However, there are rare cases where the state might even extradite without a treaty. In India, the extradition of a convicted individual is governed under the Extradition Act of 1962. 

An extradition treaty between India and the other country turns into the basis of extraditions in India. Extradition offence, according to Section 2(c) of the Extradition Act of 1962 of the Indian Penal Code, means:

  • Concerning a foreign treaty state, an offence provided for in the extradition treaty with that state.
  • Concerning a foreign treaty state, an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year under the Indian Laws or laws of the foreign state and includes a composite offence. The treaty must include the offence and specify that the punishment is less than one year.

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Asylum means an inviolable place of refuge and protection shelter given to criminals. To apply for asylum, an individual must prove their refugee status and confirm that any reason does not bar them from getting asylum through Indian Immigration laws. It is an Indian sovereign right to grant asylum to a person not qualifying for refugee status. The treatment of asylums seekers is categorised into three parts:

  • National Treatment: The Indian Constitution has included several provisions that uphold the constitutional rights of all Indian citizens. According to this, asylum seekers can receive the same national care as Indians.
  • Treatment that is accorded to the foreigners: Article 17 protects the right to work or exercise a career in India. Article 26 protects the freedom of residence and movement. Article 21 protects the right to housing, while Article 13 protects the right to property for the seekers.
  • Special treatment: The refugee convention is liable to protect one’s identification and travel papers as well as exemption of fines under article 3(1), according to Article 28 of 1951.

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Once individuals apply for asylum, they are given information about the next steps in the refugee status determination process. They will be granted a case number and an ‘Under Consideration Certificate’, which acknowledges the consideration of their application. The next step includes an interview round where the reasons behind seeking asylum are asked. The UNHCR determines their refugee status depending on the interview and the details they provide regarding the situation of the origin nation.


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