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Transfer of Criminal Cases by the Courts | Overview
- Power of Supreme Court to transfer cases and appeals: Section 406 of Cr.P.C
- Powers of High Court to transfer cases and appeals: Section 407 of Cr.P.C
- Power of session’s judge to transfer cases and appeals: Section 408 of Cr.P.C
- Withdrawal of cases and appeals by Sessions Judge: Section 409 of Cr.P.C
- Withdrawal of cases by Judicial Magistrates: Section 410 of Cr.P.C
- Making over or withdrawal of cases by Executive Magistrate: Section 411 of Cr.P.C
- Reasons to be recorded: Section 412 of Cr.P.C
Criminal law in India is mainly governed by Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Former defines offences and punishments thereof while later lays down the procedure to be mandatorily followed while pursuing a case. Chapter XXXI (Section 406 to Section 412) of Code of Criminal Procedure deals with Transfer of Criminal Cases by the courts.
Power of Supreme Court to transfer cases and appeals: Section 406 of Cr.P.C.
- Whenever it is made to appear to supreme court that an order under this section is expedient from the ends of justice, it may direct that any particular case or appeal to transferred from one High Court to another High Court or from a Criminal Court subordinate to one High Court to another Criminal Court of equal or superior jurisdiction to another High Court.
- The Supreme Court may act under this section only on the application of Attorney General of India or of a party interested, and every such application shall be made by motion, which shall, except when the applicant is the Attorney General of India or Advocate General of the State, be supported by affidavit or affirmation.
- Where any application for the exercise of the powers conferred by this section is dismissed, the Supreme Court may if it is of opinion the application was frivolous or vexatious, order the applicant to pay by way of compensation to any person who has opposed the application such sum not exceeding one thousand rupees as it may consider appropriate in the circumstances of the case.
A case is transferred if there is a reasonable apprehension on the part of a party to a case that justice will not be done. A petitioner is not required to demonstrate that justice will inevitably fail. He is entitled to a transfer if he shows circumstances from which it can be inferred that he entertains an apprehension and that it is reasonable in the circumstances alleged. It is one of the principles of the administration of justice that justice should not only be done but it should be seen to be done. However, a mere allegation that it is an apprehension that justice will not be done in a given case does not suffice. The court has further to see whether the apprehension is reasonable or not
Powers of High Court to transfer cases and appeals: Section 407 of Cr.P.C.
1) whenever it is made to appear to the High Court-
- that a fair and impartial inquiry or trial cannot be had in any Criminal Court subordinate thereto; or
- that some question of law of unusual difficulty is likely to arise; or
- that an order under this section is required by any provision of this Code, or will tend to the general convenience of the parties or witnesses, or is expedient for the ends of justice,
It may order-
- that any offence be inquired into or tried by any Court not qualified under sections 177 to 185 (both inclusive), but in other respects competent to inquire into or try such offence;
- that any particular case or appeal, or class of cases and appeals, be transferred from a Criminal Court subordinate to its authority to any other such Criminal Court of equal or superior jurisdiction;
- that any particular case be committed for trial to a Court of Sessions; or
- that any particular case or appeal be transferred to and tried before itself.
2) the High Court may act either on the report of the lower court, or on the application of a party interested, or on its own initiative:
Provided that no application should lie to the High Court for transferring a case from one Criminal Court to another Criminal Court in the same sessions division, unless an application for such transfer has been made to the Sessions Judge and rejected by him.
3) Every application of an order under sub-section 1) shall be made by motion, which shall, except when the applicant is Advocate General of the State, be supported by an affidavit or affirmation.
4) When such application is made by an accused person, the High Court may direct him to execute a bond, with or without sureties, for the payment of any compensation which the High Court may award under sub-section 7)
5) Every accused person making such application shall give to the Public Prosecutor notice in writing of the application, together with copy of the grounds on which it is made and; and no order shall be made on the merits of the application unless at least twenty four hours have elapsed between the giving of such notice and the hearing of the application.
6) Where the application is for the transfer of a case or appeal from any subordinate court, the High Court may, if it is satisfied that it is necessary so to do in the interests of justice, order that pending the disposal of the application, the proceedings in the subordinate court shall be stayed, on such terms as the High Court may fit to impose
Provided that such stay shall not affect the subordinate court’s power of remand under section 309
7) Where an application for an order under sub-section 1) is dismissed, the High Court may, if it is of opinion that the application was frivolous or vexatious, order the applicant to pay by way of compensation to any person who has opposed the application such sum not exceeding one thousand rupees as it may consider proper in the circumstances of the case.
8) When the High Court orders under sub-section 1) that a case can be transferred from any Court for trial before itself, it shall observe in such trial the same procedure which that Court would have observed if the case had not been so transferred.
9) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to affect any order of government under section 197.
A Full Bench of Madras High Court has held that where an offence consists of several acts done in different local areas the High Court when it is made to appear to it that the circumstances contemplated under cl. (a), (b) or (c) of sub-section (1) exist, may order to the case to be inquired into or tried by a Court having jurisdiction over any such local areas.
Power of session’s judge to transfer cases and appeals: Section 408 of Cr.P.C.
- Whenever it is made to appear to a Sessions Judge that an order under this sub-section is expedient for the ends of justice, he may order that any particular case can be transferred from one Criminal Court to another Criminal Court in his sessions divisions.
- The Sessions Judge may act either on the report of the lower court, or on the application of a party interested, or on his own initiative.
- the provisions of sub-section (3), (4), (5), (6), (7) and (9) of section (7) can apply in relation to an application to the Sessions Judge for an order under subsection (1) as they apply in relation to an application to the Sessions Judge for an order under subsection (1) of section 407, except that the sub-section (7) of that section shall so apply as if for the words “one thousand rupees” occurring herein, the words “two hundred and fifty” were substituted.
The provisions of sub-section (3), (4),(5),(6),(7) and (9) of section (7) and (9)of s.407 becomes applicable in case of the application to the Sessions Judge also, with the difference that for frivolous or vexatious application for transfer he can award maximum compensation of Rs. 250 only. Where the Sessions Judge has transferred the case u/s 408 to the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge, who has already begun the trial, a subsequent trial of the same case before the Sessions Judge was illegal and beyond his jurisdiction.
Withdrawal of cases and appeals by Sessions Judge: Section 409 of Cr.P.C.
- A Sessions Judge may withdraw any case or appeal from, or recall any case or appeal which he has made over to, any Assistant Sessions Judge or Chief Judicial Magistrate subordinate to him.
- At any time before the trial of the case or the hearing of the appeal has commenced before the Additional Sessions Judge, a Sessions Judge may recall any case or appeal which he has made over to any Additional Sessions Judge.
- Where a Sessions Judge withdraws or recalls case or appeal under subsection (1) or subsection (2) he may either try case in his own court or appeal himself, or make it in accordance with the provisions of this court to another court for trial or hearing, as the case may be.
A Sessions Judge cannot withdraw or recall a case or an appeal pending before a Judge which has been partly head by him. A case cannot be withdrawn and proceeded with under s. 409(1) after the trial has commenced. Recital of a wrong section does not invalidate an order which is otherwise within the power of the authority making it
- Any Chief Judicial Magistrate may withdraw case from, or recall any case which he has made over to, any Magistrate subordinate to him and may inquire or try such case himself, or refer it for inquiry or trial to any other such magistrate competent to inquire into or try the same.
- Any Judicial Magistrate may recall any case made over by him under subsection (2) of section 192 to any other magistrate and may inquire into or try such case himself.
After considering the plea of not guilty of the accused, the magistrate posted the case for trial. Consequently, on re-organisation on the jurisdiction of the courts, the case was transferred to another Magistrate under section 410. The transferee Magistrate is bound by the order of his predecessor and cannot go behind the pre-cognizance stage
Making over or withdrawal of cases by Executive Magistrate: Section 411 of Cr.P.C.
Any District Magistrate or Sub-divisional Magistrate may-
- makeover for disposal, any proceeding which has been started before him, to any Magistrate subordinate to him
- withdraw any case from, or recall any case which he has made over to, any Magistrate subordinate to him, and dispose of such proceeding himself or refer it for disposal to any other Magistrate.
Any District Magistrate or Sub-divisional magistrate has right to make over to or withdraw from any magistrate subordinate to him cases which have been made over to any magistrate subordinate to him respectively vide s.411. Any case u/s 411 means any proceeding or inquiry before an Executive Magistrate such as cases under section 107, 108, 109, 110, 132, 144, 145, 146 and 176.
The powers given by this section are very large and for that reason, they should be most carefully exercised. The magistrate in the district should use the extensive discretion given to them to divert the course of the procedure from its ordinary channel only when it is absolutely necessary for interests of justice that they should do so.
Reasons to be recorded: Section 412 of Cr.P.C.
A Sessions Judge or Magistrate making an order under section 408, section 409, section 410, section 411 shall record his reasons for making it.
This section makes it incumbent on a Sessions Judge or a Magistrate to record reasons for passing an order for transfer or recalling of the case or appeal under the preceding sections.
- Code of Criminal Procedure by Ratanlal and Dhirajlal
- SCC OnLine
 Gurcharan Das Chadha v. State of Rajasthan- LNIND 1965 SC 328
 Employees’ State Insurance Corporation v. M. Haji Muhammad, (1906) Mad 1 (FB)
 State of West Bengal v. Gangadhar Dawn, 1989 Cr LJ 563
 Smt. Gulzar v. Nizam, 1981 Cr LJ NOC 22
 Amrithappa v. State of Karnataka, 1982 Cr LJ 1336 (Knt)
 State of Karnataka v. Muniyalla, 1985 Cr LJ 751: AIR 1985 SC 470
 Food Inspector v. K.P. Alavikutty, 1987 Cr LJ 1298 (Ker)
 Umrao Singh v. Fakir Chand, (1881) 3 All 746, 749