Explain ‘Common Intention’ as used in Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Refer some leading cases.
The basic aim of our Indian Legal System is to punish an accused and administer justice to the victim. If an accused commits any offence against another person and breaches the tranquility of the society then it is always considered that the offence has been committed against the State. That is why, the legal proceedings are conducted by the Public Prosecutor and the Public prosecutor represents the State as a party.
According to our Indian Legal System, if an accused commits an offence, then the burden of proof lies always upon the Public Prosecutor to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and the public prosecutor proves the guilt of an accused by producing relevant evidences in the Court of law.
If an offence has been committed by an individual then it is very easy for the prosecution to prove his guilt but the problem arises where two or more persons are involved in the commission of an offence and it becomes very difficult to prove their individual criminal act. That is why, to give some relaxation to the prosecution, Section 34 has been introduced in the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The concept of Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, is based upon the principle of constructive liability. This section does not create distinct and substantive offence. It is a rule of evidence which creates the liability of two or more persons who commits an offence after proper planning.
The main ingredient of Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, is ‘Common Intention’ and according to this section, if two or more persons commit any criminal act in furtherance of common intention of all then it is considered that every person has committed that offence individually and every person is held liable for committing that offence.
The concept of Constructive Liability was for the first time evolved in the leading case of R v. Cruise and three accused were held liable on the basis of this section in this case.
The main ingredients of Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, are as follows: –
• Criminal act must be done by several persons
• Criminal act must be done in furtherance of common intention of all
• There must be participation of all the persons in the commission of an offence
According to the principle laid down in Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, to held all the accused liable, it is necessary that criminal act must be done by all the accused. If all the accused commit a criminal act in furtherance of common intention, then only a presumption can be raised that every individual has committed an offence individually.
In the leading case of Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor (PC 1925), the Hon’ble Court held that if two or more persons commit a criminal act after sharing common intention then only, they all can be held liable jointly and it can be presumed that every accused has committed a criminal act individually.
According to section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, to held all the accused liable, it is necessary to prove ‘Common Intention’. Common Intention here means proper planning and sharing of intention before committing the offence. If two or more persons share the intention among all and commits the offence keeping the common intention in mind then only it can be said that they have committed the offence in furtherance of common intention of all.
In the leading case of Mehboob Shah v. King Emperor (PC 1945), the Hon’ble court held that if the prosecution wants to prove the common intention, then he has to prove prearranged plan. In this case, the Hon’ble court stated that if the prosecution wants to secure the conviction of an accused then he has to prove that there was prior meeting of mind and prearranged planning before the commission of a criminal act.
According to the provisions of Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, if two or more persons decide to commit a criminal act and in furtherance of committing that act, if they commit another act then they will not hold liable only for the commission of former act but they will also be held liable for the commission of later act.
For example: – A and B decided to kill C and after a prearranged plan they went of C’s house. When they were about to kill C, his wife came ahead and tried to save C and in order to kill C, B shot C’s wife and after that A killed C. In this case, B killed C’s wife but according to the provisions of Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, it will be considered that B has killed her in furtherance of common intention of the parties. So, both the accused will be held liable for the murder of C’s wife.
In the leading case of Shankar Lal v. State of Gujarat (SC 1962), the Hon’ble court held that all criminal acts done in furtherance of common intention would also be covered under section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, and if any act is done by any of the accused in order to commit a decided act and there was no prearranged planning for the commission of that act then also that act would be covered under section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, and it will be considered that all the accused has committed the abovesaid act individually.