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Mahboob Shah vs Emperor And Section 34 of Indian Penal Code

Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 says when a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.

In the landmark judgement of Mahboob Shah vs. Emperor case, the Privy Council differentiated between the concepts same intention and common intention.
Mahboob Shah vs. Emperor
Citation: (1945) 47 BOMLR 941
Bench : M Nair, Thankerton & J Beaumont
Date of Judgement: 31 January,1945

Facts of the case
Allahdad (the deceased) who was the resident of village Khandakel, on the date 24 Aug.1943, alongwith Hamidullah and few others went to Indus river bank by boat for collecting reeds.As they reached the river bank , Mohammad Hussain Shah (father of Wali Shah) was taking a bath on the river bank.

He warned Allahdad and others against cutting reeds as the land belonged to him . But they did not stop and collected 16 bundles of reeds and started returning. On the way back , they were stopped by Ghulam Shah (nephew of Hussain Shah) who asked them to return the reeds.But Allahdad and his friends refused to return. On this Ghulam Shah hit Allahdad with a stick but the hit was missed. Then Allahdad hit Ghulam Shah with a bamboo.Ghulam Shah then started to shout for help.

On hearing his shout, Mahboob Shah and Wali Shah rushed there with loaded guns. Allahdad and his friends started running away. While running away, Wali Shah fired at Hamidullah and he died instantaneously .Mahboob Shah also fired at Allahdad because of which he suffered severe injuries but later on he also died. Wali Shah absconded but Mahboob Shah was apprehended by the police.

Issues involved in the case:
  1. Whether Mahboob Shah and Wali Shah had pre-planned the murder of Allahdad and Hamidullah?
  2. Whether same intention and common intention are similar or is there any difference?

Court of Session
Mahboob Shah and Ghulam Shah were convicted under sections 34 and 302 of Indian Penal Code ,1860.

The court of session awarded Mahboob Shah with a rigorous imprisonment of 7 years.

High Court

Aggrieved by the judgement of Court of Session , both Mahboob Shah and Ghulam Shah appealed in the Lahore High Court.

Ghulam Shah was acquitted on the ground that he did not fired at anyone.It was Wali Shah who fired the shot.But Mahboob Shah was sentenced to death under section 302 read with section 34 of the IPC for Allahdad's murder.

Privy Council
Again Mahboob Shah for further appeal moved to Privy Council.
The Privy Council acquitted the appellant convicted under sections 302 and 34.The Privy Council held that in the present case, there was no scope of pre-planning between the appellant and Wali Shah.Since the facts of the case don't satisfy the elements of section 34 of IPC, this section won't be applied to this case.

Also, Mahboob Shah (appellant) and Wali Shah (absconder) had the same intention to rescue Ghulam Shah and not the common intention to murder Allahdad. Therefore, the Privy Council set aside the judgement of Lahore High Court and acquitted Mahboob Shah from all the charges.

Elements of Section 34
There are four elements of Section 34:
  1. Criminal Act- The act (or series of acts) should be criminal in nature.
  2. Two or more persons- The criminal act should be done by two or more persons or several persons.
  3. Common Intention- It means that there should be simultaneous consensus of the minds of persons participating in the criminal act.
  4. In Furtherance of- The criminal act should be done in furtherance of the common intention.

The judgement passed by the Privy Council in Mahboob Shah vs. Emperor case, became a landmark judgement as it differentiated between common intention and same intention. The judgement even in todays era is relevant and also of great importance.

Written By: Siddiqua Abdullah

Also Read:
  • Section 34 and 149 of Indian Penal Code,1860.

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