File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Constructive Liability Under IPC 1860

Sections 34 and 149 of the IPC embody the rule of constructive responsibility, which states that an individual is liable for the consequences of another person's modification; however, Sections 34 and 149 should never be used together. The law of common purpose is not synonymous with the law of contract in Sections 34 and 149, and it has distinct features.

From section 141 through section 160 of the Indian Penal Code, "Offenses against Public Tranquillity" is addressed. "Offenses against Public Tranquillity," sometimes known as "Group Offenses," cause public disorder. Section 141 defines 'Unlawful Assembly,' which requires the presence of 5 or more people and the goal must be obvious to everyone.

The most serious sort of criminal culpability of mind and mens rea is criminal intent. In criminal law, the purpose has a symbolic role. As the most serious sort of crime in the criminal justice system, it is referred to as the biggest type of mental component. The word 'intention' is still not defined in the Indian Penal Code, however IPC Section 34 deals with common intention.

Section 34 introduces the concept of shared liability, which can be found in both civil and criminal law. It deals with a situation in which numerous people commit a crime with a distinct criminal purpose or knowledge. Each person who participates in the act with such an understanding or purpose bears responsibility in the same way as if the intention or understanding were done only by him.

Common purpose, common object, under Section 34: When various people commit a criminal act in support of the common intention of all, each of those persons shall be liable for that act within the same manner as if it was done by him alone.

Common intent implies a scheme that has been prearranged. On the contrary, Section 149 of The Indian Penal Code refers to an act committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecuting that assembly's common object

Section 34 under IPC, 1860

Section 34 of IPC, 1860 is defined as:

"Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention". The section can be explained as if two or more people commit any criminal offense and with the intent of committing that offense, then each of them will be liable for that act as if the act was committed by them individually

Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor's [1] case was one of the earliest instances in which another individual was sentenced by the tribunal for the act of another in support of common intention. The facts of the case are, on August 3, 1923, a group of armed people entered the police station. They asked the postmaster for cash where he counted the cash. They shot at the postmaster from the pistol, causing the postmaster to die on the spot.

Without taking cash, all the accused ran away. The police were able to capture as a guard Barendra Kumar Ghosh who stood outside the post office. Barendra contended that he was merely standing as a guard but the court convicted him for murder under 302 r/w Section 34 of IPC, 1860. After that his appeal was rejected when he appealed to Privy Council.

In this Section the word 'act' is referred, which is defined under Section 33 of IPC, 1860 as: Section 33. 'Act', 'Omission'. � The term 'act' also denotes a sequence of acts as a single act: the term 'omission 'indicates as well a sequence of omissions as a single omission. Section 34 and Section 33 clearly indicate that the word "criminal act" relates to more than one act and would cover a whole sequence of acts. Section 34 to Section 38 of Chapter II of the Indian Penal Code on' General Explanation 'sets out the circumstances under which an individual may be constructively held responsible for the acts committed by the other group members

Objective of section 34

Section 34 is intended to address a scenario in which it may be difficult to distinguish between the unlawful conduct of individual party members operating in support of a common goal, or to show precisely what role each of them played. The existence of an accomplice offers encouragement, aid, protection, and trust to an individual who is truly involved in an illegal conduct, which is why all are held guilty in such cases. As a result, any individual who is involved in the commission of a criminal offence is held accountable by virtue of his participation in the act done, even though neither member of the group executed the exact act in issue.

Ingredients of Section 34

Criminal Act Done by Several Persons: The said criminal act must have been performed by more than one person. If the illegal conduct was a spontaneous and autonomous act that sprang fully from the doer's thinking, the others will not be held accountable just because they meant to be involved with the doer in another criminal act at the time it was committed. If the illegal conduct was a spontaneous and autonomous act that sprang fully from the doer's thinking, the others will not be held accountable just because they meant to be involved with the doer in another criminal act at the time it was committed.

Common intention: The presence of a common purpose to perform a criminal act in service of a shared aim of all group members is at the heart of joint culpability under Section 34. The term 'common intention' means a prior concert, i.e., a meeting of minds and involvement of all group members in the execution of that plan. The acts performed by each participant may vary in personality but must be carried out with the same common intention.

In the case of Mahboob Shah v. Emperor [2], appellant Mahboob Shah was 19 years old and was convicted of the murder of Allah Dad by the Session Judge of the charge Section 302 with Section 34. He was convicted for death by the Session tribunal. The death sentence was also upheld by the High Court of Judicature. The conviction for murder and death sentence was overturned on appeal to the Lordship.

It was argued before the appellant that�" when Allah Dad and Hamidullah attempted to run away, Wali Shah and Mahboob Shah came next to them and fired" and thus there was proof at the spur of the time that they formed a common intention. The lordship was not happy with this perspective and cordially advised his Majesty that his appeal had been successful, the appeal must be allowed and the conviction of him for murder and death sentence should be set aside.

The common intention is most often confused with Section 149: This declares that each participant of an unlawful assembly is responsible for the crime committed in the pursuit of a shared goal. It is important to note that the activities of the two portions are not identical. The Indian Penal Code's Sections 149 and 34 both deal with a person's association becoming liable for punishment for the conduct they commit. To hold an individual vicariously accountable under IPC Section 34 or Section 149, it is not necessary to establish that each of them was involved in the overt act.

This principle was held in Ram Bilas Singh v. State of Bihar [3] case where it was stated that the term of the punishment for each person who has committed that act with a common intent depends on the nature and gravity of the crime committed.

Participation in The Criminal Act: Participation in a criminal act of a group is a precedent condition for fixing joint liability and there must be some overt act indicative of a common intent to commit an offense. The law requires the accused to be present on the spot during the crime and participate in its commission; it is sufficient if he is present somewhere nearby.

In the leading case Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor [4], this case is also named as the Shankari Tola Post Office Murder Case. Several people, in this case, appeared before the sub-post master who counted the cash on the table and demanded the money. Meanwhile the sub-post master was murdered by opening fire and those people ran away without taking any cash.

However, Barendra Kumar was caught in his hand with a pistol which was handed over to the police. The accused was prosecuted under Sections 302/34 as he was one of the three males who fired at the sub-post master according to the prosecution. The accused rejected his complaint on the ground that he was just standing outside and that he had not shot at the dead. After being satisfied that the sub-postmaster was murdered in support of the common intention of all, the trial court, held the accused guilty though he had not even fired the shot.

The Calcutta High Court and the Privy Council both agreed with the trial court's results and found the accused guilty of killing. Section 34 deals with the performance of separate acts, similar or diverse by several persons; if all are performed in the pursuit of a common intention, each individual shall be liable for the consequence of all such acts as if they were performed by themselves.

Section 149 under IPC, 1860
Section 149 of IPC, 1860 is defined as: "Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object".

This section can be easily understood as follows: If any member of an unlawful assembly commits an offence in furtherance of that assembly's common purpose, or as the members of that assembly knew was likely to be committed in furtherance of that purpose, any person who is a member of that assembly at the time of the commission of that offence shall be guilty of that offence.

In the case of Bhudeo Mandal v. the State of Bihar [5], the Apex Court ruled that the proof must obviously establish not only the common object but also demonstrate that the common object was illegitimate before convicting any individual with the help of section 149.

In the case of Ram Dhani v. State [6], there was a land dispute and the plaintiff resorted to the accused party's crop cutting. The latter were in number more than five and assembled to avoid cutting. The tribunal ruled that individuals acting in the property's self-defence could not be members of an unlawful assembly. And so, it could not be said that they formed an illegal assembly.

The punishment under Section 149 is the same as the penalty for the illegal assembly crime. If the prosecution intends to prove an individual under section 149 of the IPC, the prosecution must demonstrate the person's presence on the site as well as his participation in the unlawful assembly. The participants of the unlawful assembly bear a positive or vicarious culpability for the illegitimate conduct undertaken in pursuit of the common item under this chapter.

Ingredients of section 149

An offense committed by members of an unlawful assembly

The Supreme Court in Yunis vs. Madhya Pradesh State [7], held that the presence of the accused as part of an unlawful assembly was sufficient for the conviction to be held. The fact that the accused was a participant of the unlawful assembly and his presence on the spot of the event is adequate to hold him liable even if he is not accused of any overt act. However, mere presence in an unlawful assembly cannot make an individual responsible unless he is acting by common object and that object is one of the objects set out in Section 141.

The specifics of an unlawful assembly are detailed in Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code. It states that if the common object of such assembly is any of the following, an assembly of five or more persons is an unlawful assembly.
  1. In order to demonstrate criminal power.
  2. Resisting law enforcement or legal proceedings.
  3. Committing criminal offense or wrongdoing.
  4. Forcing others to do what they are not legally bound to do by a criminal force demonstration.
  5. Taking possession of property by using criminal force.
  6. Exempting anyone from using incorporeal law by using or demonstrating criminal force.

Scope of Section 149:

  1. In prosecution of the common object:
    "Persuasion of the assembly's common aim "does not mean" prosecution of the common object. The phrase "in prosecuting the common object" indicate that the crime committed was instantly related to the assembly's common object, of which the accused were members. The conduct must have been carried out in the manner described in order to achieve the shared goal assigned to the participants of the illegal assembly. The words "in the prosecution of the common object" must be interpreted strictly as equivalent to "in order to achieve the common object."

    In Queen v. Sabid Ali [8], the words "in prosecution of the common object" were construed as meaning "with a view to achievement of the common object".
  2. Members knew to be likely:
    The second element relates to a circumstance in which members of the assembly were aware that the infraction would most certainly be committed in the course of prosecuting the shared aim. A thing is likely to happen only if it will most likely happen or may very well happen. The term "knowing" refers to a state of mind rather than knowledge at the time of the offence. It is necessary to demonstrate knowledge. The term "likely" refers to significant evidence that the unlawful assembly had access to such information. The prosecution must prove that the accused not only knew the offence was likely to be committed, but that it was also likely to be committed in the course of prosecuting the assembly's common aim.
  3. Five or more persons:
    To apply this section, it is necessary to demonstrate that at least five persons shared the same item. While it's possible that some of them are identified or that their identities were questioned, the existence of five or more persons must be confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt. In certain circumstances, fewer than five persons may be found guilty. However, if it is uncertain that at least five persons were arrested under this clause, no conviction will be possible.

    Section 142 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes it easier to identify the factors that make someone a part of an illegal assembly. It says that if someone joins an assembly or continues to be a member of that unlawful assembly even after being aware of the facts that make such assembly unlawful.

Proposals for Reform
The Fifth Law Commission of India in its report proposed suggestions for reform of s.34 to clear ambiguity. It proposed that, for better understanding, the phrase 'several persons' be substituted by 'two or more persons'. Fifth Law Commission,[9] also proposed to substitute the Third object of s.141 'to commit any mischief or criminal trespass, or other offences' with 'to commit any offence punishable with imprisonment' to clear ambiguity.

Section 34 only specifies joint liability and makes no provisions for punishment. This section must be read in conjunction with many other IPC provisions, including Section 120A, which defines criminal conspiracy, Section 120 B, which establishes a punishment for criminal conspiracy, and Section 149, which deals with illegal assembly. This Section 34 cannot be used alone; it must be used in conjunction with another section to hold an individual jointly accountable for the violation. It is not necessary for people to constantly have the same goal in mind while committing a crime. It's plausible that they happened to be at the site by coincidence and had no common aim, which is a key component of Section 34 of the IPC.

Fixing vicarious liability under Section 34 or Section 149 depends on their method adopted to furnish the crime. There are two sections managing 'common intention' and 'common object' beneath two chapters of IPC 'General Explanation' and 'Of Offences against Public Tranquillity' respectively. It might be difficult to prove with proof whether they had a single purpose or not, as well as how many people with the same common goal were participants of the unlawful assembly. However, after analysing the facts and circumstances of each case, the Supreme Court eliminated these uncertainties in a number of cases.

In order to have a clearer understanding of the law, India's Law Commission made many recommendations to the legislature to change certain sections of the legislation. Finally, both Section 34 and Section 149 hold an individual vicariously liable for the activities of his associates. Both portions can't always be shown directly, thus they have to be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case.

  • (1925) 27 BOMLR 148
  • (1945) 47 BOMLR 941
  • (SJ) No. 213 of 2007
  • AIR 1925 PC 1
  • AIR 1981 SC 1219
  • 1997 Cr LJ 2286
  • A.I.R. 2003 SC 539
  • 11 BLR 347
  • Law Commission of India (Forty Second report: Indian Penal Code) 1971

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly