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Joint or constructive criminality

 Joint or constructive criminality - the law relating to joint offender or constructive criminality is laid down under section 34 to 38 of Indian Penal Code. 

There are four important principles governing joint offender 

  • Act done by several persons in furtherance of common intention - section 34

  • Act done with criminal knowledge or intention - section 35 

  • Co-operation in acts constituting an offence - section 37 

  • Persons concerned in criminal act may be guilty of different offence - section 38

Sections  34  and  149  are  the  relevant  provisions  of  group  liability  in  the  Indian  Penal  Code. Section  34  defines  common  intention,  whereas  149  defines  the  liability  of  a  group  acting  in  the prosecution  of  a  common  object.  Common  intention  means  the  same  intention,  whereas  common object  means  similar  intention  towards  achieving  an  objective.  Under  the  concept  of  group liability,  all  the  members  of  the  group  are  equally  liable  even  if  the  act  be  committed  by  one person alone.  

 Mahbub Shah v. Emperor - X  and  Y  had  a  dispute  and  later  on  an  altercation.  X  called  out  to  his  sons,  Mahbub  and  Z  who were  inside  the  house,  and  who  brought  guns  along  with  them.  Z  fired  the  fatal  shot  to  Y, whereas  Mahbub  Shah  fired  the  shot  which  had  only  injured  Y’s  leg.  The  issue  was  whether Mahbub  is  liable  for  murder  as  Z  fired  the  fatal  shot  and  had  absconded  never  to  be  found.  U/s. 34  of  the  IPC,  the  provision  requires  a  criminal  act,  atleast  2  persons  and  evidence  of  common intention  to  prosecute  Mahbub  u/s.  34/302.  Here  as  no  evidence  was  given  of  a  premeditated concert  between  Z  and  Mahbub,  only  Z  could  be  held  liable  and  not  Mahbub  for  the  murder. Accordingly,  Mahbub  was  convicted  of  grievous  hurt,  but  acquitted  of  the  charge  of  murder since  he  did not  possess the common intention to kill  Y. Mizaji v state of U. P - There  were  two  groups  of  people.  Mizaji,  Tej  Singh  and  three  others  comprised  one  group. Whereas the other  group  comprised of  Ram Sarup  and Rameshwar. Rameshwar  saw  5  strange  men  on  the  fields  of  Ram  Sarup  and  he  duly  went  over  to  his  friend’s house  and  informed  him.  Later,  Rameshwar  accompanied  Ram  Sarup  to  the  fields.  Ram  Sarup saw  Tej  Singh  in  his  fields  and  asked  him  the  purpose  of  this  strange  visit,  upon  which  Tej  Singh replied  that  from  now  on  this  field  belonged  to  him.  When  Ram  Sarup  objected;  Mizaji,  Tej Singh’s  son  fired  a  gunshot  at  Ram  Sarup  which  unfortunately  hit  Rameshwar  who  died.  The issue  was  whether  murder  of  Rameshwar  was  the  common  object  of  all  u/s.  149  IPC.  According to  the  court,  Mizaji  and  the  rest  were  armed  knives,  pistol  and  had  come  with  the  ojective  to forcible  dispossess  Ram  Sarup  of  his  land.  Therefore,  Section  149  covers  all  the  five  accused since  all  had  the  common  object  to  dispossess  Ram  Sarup  and  kill  anyone  who  obstructs  this objective. Therefore, all  the accused  were  convicted u/s.  149/302. 

Joint or constructive criminality

By Shambhavi 



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