CITATION  1955 AIR 36, 1955, SCR (1) 697
STATUES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVED  Constitution of India, Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code
IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ARTICLES  Constitution of India- Article 134(1)(c), Indian Penal Code- Section 4, Criminal Procedure Code- Section 188, Section 179.


The Central Bank of India[2] has filed a suit against Ram Narain. He was charged with theft of bank’s security. The accused was charged and was found guilty of theft by the District Magistrate. An appeal was filed in the Session Court and same was rejected by the Additional Sessions Judges.

The case went to the High Court of Simla[3] (now Shimla) where the bench holds him not guilty stating that the Indian courts have no jurisdiction over this case. The Central Bank of India appealed the decision of the High Court to the Supreme Court.


In the Indian Penal Code, 1860, there is a provision which punish Indian citizens who commits crime outside India. This has been explained in Section 4 of the IPC, which states “the provision of this code apply to any offence committed by any citizen of India in any place without and beyond India or on any ship or aircraft registered in India or in any place without and beyond India committing offence targeting a computer resource located in India”.

This case of Central Bank of India vs Ram Narain, focuses on the liability of a person who is citizen of India commits an offence outside the boundary of India and during the offence he was not a citizen of India. This specific case deals with the jurisdiction of the Indian courts.


In 1946, Ram Narain a business man residing in Multan[4] district took a loan of Rs. 3 Lakhs from the Central Bank of India. He has submitted 802 bales of cotton as collateral against the loan to the bank. The bank put those bales in a godown located nearby.

On 15 August 1957, the partition[5] took place and the nation was divided into two separate nations namely India and Pakistan. Due to this incident the attendant of the godown where the cotton bales were kept left the place in the hands of the cashier. After sometimes the cashier also had to leave that place in October, 1947. Consequently no one was there to defend the godwon after October 1947.

In January 1948, an agent of the bank visited the godown and found that stocks were missing from the godown. On inquiry, he found that 802 cotton bales have been stolen by Ram Narain himself in November 1947 and was sold at a value of Rs. 1,98,702-12-9. During the partition, the amount due to the bank from Narain was around Rs. 1,40,000, exclusive of interest, while the value of goods was approximately Rs. 1,90,000.

When the notice of theft came to the bank, they demanded money from Ram Narain but no response was received. Ram Narain has already sent his family to India as during that time Hindu and Sikhs were becoming victim of violence. Later, Ram Narain also came to India and started business in Hodel, nearby place of Gurgaon. Central Bank of India filled a suit against him. State initiated the suit and was brought to the District Magistrate, Gurgaon where Narain told that at the time to supposed occurrence, he was a national of Pakistan and subsequently the East Punjab Government was not competent to grant sanction for his prosecution.

Even after hearing contention, the Magistrate initiated the suit against him. Then the case was brought to the session court, Gurgaon and there also judgement was delivered against Ram Narain. Narain filed an appeal in the High Court which was at that time Simla. High Court giving its decision in favour of Ram Narain stating that the said incident took place after the partition of 1947 and the godown was situated in the part of Pakistan and not in India. So, there is no jurisdiction of Indian courts over this case, as Ram Narain was not a citizen of India when the said incident of theft took place.

This was further brought in Supreme Court, where few issues were raised.


  1. To what extent, Indian jurisdiction apply?
  2. Does an intention to move to India makes a person Indian citizen?
  3. Whether Ram Narain had Indian domicile at the time of the commission of the offence?


  • The learned Attorney-General argued that Ram Narain was a native Indian subject of Her Majesty before the 15th August, 1947, and that description continued to apply to him after the 15th August, 1947, whether he was in India or in Pakistan, but we think that the description ‘Native subject of Her Majesty’ after the 15th of August, 1947, became applicable in the territory now constituted India only to residents of provinces within the boundaries of India, and in Pakistan to residents of provinces within the boundaries of Pakistan and till the time that Ram Narain actually landed on the soil of India and took up permanent residence therein he cannot be described to be domiciled in India or even a Native Indian subject of His Majesty domiciled in India.
  • The learned Attorney-General laid emphasis on his following observations “There was not seem to be any doubt in the evidence produced that Ram Narain never intended to remain in Pakistan for any length of time. In fact, he wound up his business as quickly as he could and came to India later in November 1947 and settled in Hodel”
  • He further emphasized the circumstances relied upon by the trial magistrate and Sessions Judge that Ram Narain had sent his family to India in October, 1947.
  • The learned counsel from Bank side, raised an entirely new point and has put forward Section 179, CrPC as a ground for allowing the trial to take place.


Ram Narain raised a preliminary objection stating that at the time of the alleged incident he was a resident of Pakistan and therefore the East Punjab Government was not competent to brought sanction for his prosecution under section 188 of CrPC read with section 4 of IPC.



  • Article 134(1)(c) in The Constitution of India 1949(c) certifies under Article 134A that the case is a fir one for the appeal to the Supreme Court: Provided that an appeal under sub clause (c) shall lie subject to such provision as may be made in that behalf under clause (1) of Article 145 to such conditions as the Hight Court may establish or require.[6]


  • Section 4 Extension of Code to extra-territorial offences: – The provisions of the Code apply also to any offence committed by-
  • any citizen of India in any place without and beyond India[7];
  • any person on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be[8].
  • any person in any place without and beyond India committing offence targeting a computer resource located in India[9].


  • Section 188 Offence committed outside India: -When an offence is committed outside India-
  • by a citizen of India, whether on high seas or elsewhere[10]; or
  • by a person, not being such citizen, on any ship or aircraft registered in India[11],

he may be dealt with in respect of such offence as if it had been committed at any place within India at which he may be found[12]:

Provided that, notwithstanding anything in any of the preceding sections of this Chapter, no such offence shall be inquired into or tried in India except with the previous sanction of the Central Government[13].

  • Section 179 Offence triable where act is done or consequence ensued. -When an act is an offence by reason of anything which has been done and of a consequence which has ensued, the offence may be enquired into or tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction such thing has been done or such consequence has ensued.


The honourable court stated that “in our opinion it is clear that until he actually left Pakistan and came to India, he cannot possibly be said to have become a national or a citizen of India. In fact, his Indian citizenship did not commence until the Constitution came into force, and unless and until he had actually migrated to India, he could not even be regarded a potential or prospective citizen of India.

It was further held that Punjab Government had no power in February, 1950 to sanction his prosecution under section 188, Criminal Procedure Code, for acts which were committed in Pakistan in November, 1947. Person domiciled in India at the time of coming into force of our Constitution were given the status of citizens and they thus acquired Indian nationality. If Ram Narain had Indian domicile at the time of the offence, he would certainly come within the ambit of section 4, Indian Penal Code, and section 188, Criminal Procedure Code. If on the other hand, he was not domiciled in India at the relevant moment, those sections would have no application to his case.

For the reasons given above we are of the opinion that the decision of the High Court that “Ram Narain cannot be attempted in any court in India for the offence committed in Pakistan in 1947” is correct and also the Punjab Government had no power to accord sanction to his prosecution under section 188 of CrPC. The learned bench accepted the revision petition and, holding that the trial of Ram Narain is without jurisdiction, set aside the charges framed against him and quash the proceedings.


It can be concluded from this landmark case, that during 1947 partition, everyone was in state of flux. They were in trouble to decide about which country they want to live. During that time majority of Hindus and Sikhs were facing violence so they were more in trouble. Just intention of an individual cannot be taken as a proof that he was citizen of either country. The intention must be taken in consideration with the facts or lead of appellant to get citizenship of India whenever demonstrated.

Section 4 of IPC is applicable to Indian and since the offence occurred outside the boundary of India and also the appellant was not a citizen of India, so no trial was initiated against him and at last the appeal got dismissed.  

[1] Author is 3rd semester student of ICFAI University, Dehradun.

[2] Founded on 21 December 1911 by Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala.

[3] Common High Court for Punjab and Haryana.

[4] Now in Pakistan.

[5] Indian Independence Act 1947.

[6] Constitution of India, art 134, cl.1, sub clause c.

[7] Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 4(1)

[8] Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 4(2)

[9] Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 4(3).

[10] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, § 188(a), Acts of Parliament, 1973(India).

[11] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, § 188(b), Acts of Parliament, 1973(India).

[12] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

[13] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rashmi

    Very well-written and informative. 👏

  2. Akash

    This case study is very nice and seems to be very professional along with being covinient to the readers

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