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Mumbai Special Court rejects plea that sought deportation of 8 Pakistanis on grounds of lack of jurisdiction

Umamageswari Maruthappan

A special court in Mumbai on 15th February 2021 rejected the plea that demanded deportation of eight Pakistani nationals from India to Karachi, Pakistan on grounds of lack of jurisdiction. 

The accused were arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act after the Coast Guard witnessed them with 232 Kgs of heroin worth Rs 6.96 crore. They were later surrendered to Yellowgate police station in south Mumbai.

The arguments put forth by the Counsel for the accused majorly focused on the lack of India’s jurisdiction to try the case. He said that “the boat that carried the accused was found 157 nautical miles away from Mitha Port, Gujarat which is the closest Indian port from the said location. Thus, the point of interception of the boat was beyond the territorial limits of the jurisdiction of India.”

He further alleged that India has no territorial jurisdiction to try the case and if it proceeds further, that would defeat the trial proceedings on want of jurisdiction.

The prosecution, on the other hand, strongly denied the allegations of the petitioner, highlighting the provisions under the Maritime Act of India 1976. It stressed on the ‘Exclusive Economic Zone of India’ which permits an area adjacent to and beyond the territorial water limits up to 200 nautical miles.

He further pointed out the resolution passed by the United Nations Conference for adoption of a convention against illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.

Article 4 (b) (iii) of the said Resolution clearly mentions that, the offence committed outside its territory with a view to the commission of any offence within its territory shall be covered,” he stated.

The Bench of V. V. Vidhwans released a detailed order on 16th February 2021. The Special Judge, pointing out the gravity of the offence, gave a reasonable time to the prosecution to submit an appropriate response with regards to the issue of jurisdiction.

Read more: What is Jurisdiction?