The Flying Theory In Indian Penal code

This article is written by kamlesh Singh along with the co-authorship of  Asst Professor Shubhi Srivastava of Bharti vidyapeeth-New law college.


The Indian Penal Code’s Sections 3 and 4 grant the court extraterritorial authority. When a crime is prosecuted in a nation other than the one in in which it was committed, that crime is said to be extra territorial. For instance, an Indian citizen might murder someone in the United States. Anywhere in India, he will be put on trial for homicide and found guilty.

Section 3 Of IPC:- 

According to Section 3 of the Indian Penal Code, a court has the authority to prosecute anyone for an offence committed outside of India’s borders as long as they are subject to Indian law. In this situation, the person will be prosecuted for an offence in the same way that they would be if the act had been committed in India. The argument that such an act is not illegal under the general laws of the nation where the crime was committed cannot be used as a defence. The reach of Section 3 is sufficiently broad because it brings people who are subject to any particular law, as well as Indian citizens, to account for crimes committed abroad in bringing them under the jurisdiction .

Section 4 Of IPC :- 

The scope of section 3 of the act’s application is expanded under the ambit of  section 4 of the IPC. In accordance with the following three circumstances, an offence committed outside of India may be prosecuted as an offence committed inside of India:

  1. any citizen of India outside of or outside of India;
  2. anyone travelling on a vessel or aircraft with an Indian registration, wherever it may be
  3. Any person who commits an offence outside of India that is intended to harm an Indian computer resource.

The Meaning Of The Extradition :- 

Extradition refers to the handing over of a wanted felon by one State to another, who will then be subject to punishment. Whether a person is a citizen or an immigrant, such a surrender is a political act carried out in accordance with a treaty after an informal agreement between the two States. Extradition is based on the belief that crimes should be punished, hence it is both morally and legally required for States to cooperate with one another in putting criminals behind bars. The Extradition Act of 1962 outlines the process for obtaining a person’s extradition from India.

Famous Extradition Case :- 

Abu Salem Abdul Qayoom Ansari vs State Of Maharashtra & Anr on 10 September, 2010

Following the guidelines of additional jurisdiction, Abu Salem, a former member of Mumbai’s organised crime Syndicate D-Company who was convicted of more than 50 terrible crimes, including his participation in the 1993 Mumbai bomb bombings, was extradited together with his partner, Monica Bedi.

Remia v. Sub-inspector of Police, Tanur, 1993 CrLJ 1998 (Ker):

In this instance, an Indian national murdered another Indian national abroad. Due to the fact that the crime was committed outside of India, the police declined to file a FIR. According to Section 3 of the Indian Penal Code, the court determined that the rejection was unlawful and ordered the police to report the offence and conduct their investigation accordingly.

Crimes Committed Beyond India:-

The argument that every sovereign state has the right to control its citizens’ behaviour wherever they may be at the moment is the foundation for the argument that Indian courts should have the authority to prosecute crimes committed outside and beyond India. For instance, A, an Indian (Hindu male) citizen, travels to the United States for higher education and marries an American woman. A has a wife and three children who live in India. The clause of this law states that upon his return, he will be charged with bigamy-causing under section 494 of the IPC.

Fatima Bibi Vs State of Gujarat 

However in this case an exception to this provision was stated; if at the time of the commission of the offence the accused person is not a citizen of India, then the provision of Section 4, IPC and section 188 of CrPc have no application whatsoever. Similarly, if an Indian citizen after relinquishing his citizenship, acquires another country’s citizenship, he is not subject and entitled  to the jurisdiction of Indian courts. Therefore the test for determining the applicability of section 4A, is citizenship at the time of the commission of the offence and not citizenship acquired subsequently.

Admiralty jurisdiction :- 

Section 4 sub clause (2) of the Indian Penal Code gives admiralty jurisdiction to the Indian courts and the power to try offences committed outside India. Such offences are:

Offences committed on Indian ships on the high seas. 

Offences committed on foreign ships in Indian territorial waters.

A ship is considered to be a floating Island and belongs to the country whose flag the ship is flying, the same also applies to aircrafts. Therefore all ship vessels or aircraft are considered to be a part of the territory of the country whose flag they fly. A person committing a crime on-board whether an Indian citizen or a foreigner is amenable to the Indian courts, provided that the vessel is flying an Indian flag and is registered in India.

Famous Case Of M.T. Enrica Lexie & Anr vs Doramma & Ors on 2 May, 2012

Facts Of The Case:- In one instance, an Italian ship named Enrica Lexie fired shots at a fishing boat with an Indian registration while it was off the coast of Kerala. Due to this, 2 of the 11 fisherman were fatally injured. The Kerala Police detained the ship and filed a police report. The two Italian marines were were also taken into custody. They submitted a writ petition to the Kerala High Court asking that the FIR be dismissed because the incident took place 20.5 nautical miles from India’s shore. The writ was dismissed because it was determined that Kerala Police had jurisdiction over this incidence under section 2 of the IPC

Judgement:-  The Supreme Court ruled that the Union of India had the right to prosecute the defendants, but that this right was constrained by the terms of UNCLOS 1982’s Article 100, which states that such cases can only be handled at the federal or central government level and are outside the purview of state governments. As a result, the Union of India has jurisdiction to carry out the investigation and the state of Kerala lacks jurisdiction to look into the matter. The Central Government was instructed by the Supreme Court to establish a special court to hear this case.

Committing of an offence by targeting a computer resource located in India:-

Since the Information Technology Amendment Act of 2008 added subsection (3) to Section 4 of the IPC, all offences committed outside of India that target a computer resource in India are now subject to the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

Conclusion :- 

Regarding judicial authority, jurisdiction refers to the power of the courts to hear lawsuits, appeals, and other legal actions. It makes sure that the courts only consider things that relate to its territorial and financial constraints and not those that fall outside of them.

The Indian Penal Code’s idea of extraterritorial jurisdictions makes it easier to visualise how far the law will be applied. Since these ideas have been around for a century, they don’t really apply to the fast changing technologies, such as the idea of cyberspace, so laws governing them must be added in order to maintain the comprehensive nature of the code.


  1. PSA Pillai Criminal Law, especially chapter 20, for an in-depth analysis
  2. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal IPC
  3. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal IPC, Pag
  4. Justice M.R. Mullick Criminal Manual

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