Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides for punishment of offences committed within India which reads as under:
2. Punishment of offences committed within India
Every person shall be liable to punishment under this Code and not otherwise for every act or omission contrary to the provisions thereof, of which he shall be guilty within 1[India] 2[***].
- The original words “the said territories” have successively been amended by the A.O. 1937, the A.O. 1948, the A.O. 1950 and Act 3 of 1951, sec. 3 and Sch., to read as above.
- The words and figures “on or after the said first day of May, 1861” rep. by Act 12 of 1891, sec. 2 and Sch. I.
This section makes it clear that every ‘person’, may be Indian citizen or a foreign national, is liable to punishment under the Indian Penal Code if the offence is committed in India. For a person, may be a foreign national, who commits offence in India, it is Section 2 which is relevant. [Gyan Singh vs State Of Rajasthan, I (2000) DMC 634, 1999 WLC Raj UC 304]
Whether there is anything in the language of the sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to the general scheme of the Code which compels the construction that the various sections of the Penal Code are not intended to apply to a foreigner who has committed an offence in India while not being corporeally present therein at the time. No doubt that on a plain reading of s. 2 of the Penal Code, the Code does apply to a foreigner who has committed an offence within India notwithstanding that he was corporeally present outside. [Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs The State Of Bombay, AIR 1957 SC 857, 1958 SCR 328]
Every Person – Meaning
Section 2 obviously and by contrast refers to offences committed within India. It appears clear that it is Section 2 that has to be looked to determine the liability and punishment of persons who have committed offences within India.
The section asserts categorically that every person shall be liable to punishment under the Code for every act or omission contrary to the provisions of the Code and of which he shall be guilty within India. This recognises the general principle of criminal jurisdiction over persons with reference to the locality of the offence committed by them, being within India.
The use of the phrase “every person” in Section 2 is indicative of the idea that to the extent that the guilt for an offence committed within India can be attributed to a person, every such person without exception is liable for punishment under the Code.
The plain meaning of the phrase “every person” is that it comprehends all persons without limitation and irrespective of nationality, allegiance, rank, status, caste, colour or creed.
This section must be understood as comprehending every person without exception barring such as may be specially exempt from criminal proceedings or punishment thereunder by virtue of the Constitution (See Art. 361 (2) of the Constitution) or any statutory provisions or some well recognised principle of international law, such as foreign sovereigns, ambassadors, diplomatic agents and so forth, accepted in the municipal law. [Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs The State Of Bombay, AIR 1957 SC 857, 1958 SCR 328]