Indian Penal Code (IPC)
Section 34. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention
134. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.- 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.
(i) The burden lies on prosecution to prove that actual participation of more than one person for commission of criminal act was done in furtherence of common intention at a prior concert; State of Orissa v. Arjun Das, AIR 1999 SC 3229: 1999 (8) SCC 154: 1999 (6) JT 14: 1999 (4) Crimes 78 (SC).
(ii) Where the evidence did not establish that particular accused has dealt blow the liability would devolve on others also who were involved with common intention and as such conviction not sustainable; State v. T.K. Sadashivaiah Din Kodimallappa, 1999 (1) CCR 152 (Kant).
(iii) When the accused rushed with sword drawn itself showed that he shared the common intention hence liable for conviction under section 300, read with section 34; Abdulla Kunhi v. State of Kerala, AIR 1991 SC 452.
(iv) The contention that the appellant was physically not in a position because of the sixty per cent. disability due to polio on his lower limbs, to hold the hand of the deceased cannot be accepted. The fact that the accused held the hand of one of the deceased to facilitate assailants to assault deceased, is said to have shared common intention of committing murder of deceased; Major Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2003 SC 342.
Distinction between ’common intention’ and ‘common object’
A clear distinction is made out between common intention and common object is that common intention denotes action in concert and necessarily postulates the existence of a pre-arranged plan implying a prior meeting of the minds, while common object does not necessarily require proof of prior meeting of minds or pre-concert. Though there is a substantial difference between the two sections namely 34 and 149, they also to some extent overlap and it is a question to be determined on the facts of each case; Chittarmal v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2003 SC 796.
Difference in operation of section 34 and section 149
(i) Both sections 149 and 34 deal with a combination of persons who become liable to be punished as sharers in the commission of offences. The non-applicability of section is, therefore, no bar in convicting the accused under substantive section read with section 34 if the evidence discloses commission of an offence in furtherance of the common intention of them all; Nethala Pothuraju v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 3133 (SC).
(ii) In order to convict a person vicariously liable under section 34 or section 149 it is not necessary to prove that each and everyone of them had indulged in overts acts; Ram Blias Singh v. State of Bihar, (1989) Cr LJ 1782: AIR 1989 SC 1593.
(i) When an offence is sought to be proved only on circumstantial evidence, the allegations of common intention under section 34 normally cannot be established in absence of meeting of mind, the overt act of the accused, by their conduct, by using the weapons by their utterance of words; Santosh Desai v. State of Goa, (1997) 2 Crimes 666 (Bom).
(ii) In order to bring a case under section 34 it is not necessa
ry that there must be a prior conspiracy or pre-meditation, the common intention can be formed in the course of occurrence; Hari Om v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (1993) 1 Crimes 294 (SC).
(iii) Mere surrender by appellant alongwith accused before police does not show meeting of minds as to bring the case within ambit of section 34; Rangaswami v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1989) Cr LJ 875: AIR 1989 SC 1137.
(iv) It has been held that the requirement of statute is sharing the common intention upon being present at the place of occurrence. Mere distancing from the scene cannot absolve the accused; Lallan Bhai v. State of Bihar, AIR 2003 SC 333.
Participation in the Criminal Act
(i) To apply section 34, apart from the fact that there should be two or more accused, two factors must be established: (i) common intention, and (ii) participation of accused in the commission of an offence. If common intention is proved but no overt act is attributed to the individual accused, section 34 will be attracted as essentially it involves vicarious liability but if participation of the accused in the crime is proved and common intention is absent, section 34 cannot be invoked; Jai Bhagwan v. State of Haryana, AIR 1999 SC 1083.
(ii) It requires a pre-arranged plan and pre-supposes prior concert therefore there must be prior meeting of mind. It can also be developed at the spur of moment but there must be pre-arrangement or premeditated concert: Ramashish Yadav v. State of Bihar, 1999 (8) SCC 555: 1999(6) JT 560: 1999 (2) JCC (SC) 471.
(iii) If some act is done by the accused person in furtherance of common intention of his co-accused, he is equally liable like his co-accused; State of Punjab v. Fauja Singh, (1997) 3 Crimes 170 (P&H).
(iv) In the instant case, there was a long standing enmity between two rival factions in a village, and proceedings under the Criminal Procedure Code were pending against members of both factions. On the day fixed for a hearing in the Magistrate’s Court in a neighbouring town, members of both factions left their village armed with sticks and lathis. While one faction was waiting on the roadside for a bus, the other faction arrived and a fight ensued in which severe injuries were caused on both sides, as a result of which one man died. The members of the opposite faction were charged and convicted under sections 302/34 I.P.C. It was held that the mere presence of a person armed with a deadly weapon at the spot of a crime does not necessarily make him a participator in a joint crime in every case, because for the purpose of section 34 only such presence makes a man a participant in a joint crime as is established to be with the intention of lending weight to the commission of a joint crime; Jamun v. State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 469.
1. Subs. by Act 27 of 1870, sec. 1, for the original section.>