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
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