The Supreme Court has observed that there is no law that a person accompanying the principal culprit shares his intention in respect of every act which the latter might eventually commit.
The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph made this observation while allowing an appeal filed by a theft and murder accused. The appellant was tried with 4 others and was convicted under Sections 394, 460 and 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Referring to Section 34 IPC, the bench observed that the principle which underlies criminal liability for the acts of another therein, is the shared intention or the common intention to commit an offence. In this case, the Court noted that there is a charge of causing death by strangulation, the finding is that the death was caused as a result of the injuries inflicted with the knife.
The Court also referred to the observations made in Hardev Singh and others v. State of Punjab that the common intention must be to commit the particular crime, although the actual crime may be committed by any one sharing the common intention. Further, the bench reproduced the observations made in Dharam Pal v. State of Haryana, in this regard:
"A criminal court fastening vicarious liability must satisfy itself as to the prior meeting of the minds of the principal culprit and his companions who are sought to be constructively made liable in respect of every act committed by the former. There is no law to our knowledge which lays down that a person accompanying the principal culprit shares his intention in respect of every act which the latter might eventually commit. The existence or otherwise of the common intention depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The intention of the principal offender and his companions to deal with any person who might intervene to stop the quarrel must be apparent from the conduct of the persons accompanying the principal culprit or some other clear and cogent incriminating piece of evidence. In the absence of such material, the companion or companions cannot justifiably be held guilty for every offence committed by the principal offender."
Allowing the appeal, the bench observed that that it will be totally unsafe to convict the appellant of the charges of which he is found guilty including Section 302 of the IPC based only on the recovery of the mobile phone where the recovery itself suffers from suspicion and doubt.
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.57 OF 2013 Case name: SONU @ SUNIL vs. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESHCoram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph
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