Section 34 - Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention
Section 34 IPC states the Acts done by several persons in furtherance of Common intention. The section explains that “When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons shall be liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone."
For the purpose of sec 34 IPC, following are the essentials:
There must be a particular objective, fulfilment of which is the ultimate goal of all the members of the group. Under the ambit of this section, every person engaged in the commission of a crime is held responsible by virtue of his or her participation in the criminal act.
Sec. 34 Indian Penal Code does not state for any specific offence. It only lays down the rule of evidence that if two or more persons commit a crime in order of common intention, each of them will be held jointly liable.
There are some major ingredients which help in establishing that the offence was committed by two or more than two people with the same object. These are as follows:
A criminal act must be done by several persons.
There must be a common intention of all to commit that criminal act. In reference to this principle, In the case of Hari Om v. State of Uttar Pradesh, it was held that “it is not necessary that there must be a prior conspiracy or pre-meditation, the common intention can be formed in the course of the occurrence as well.”
There must be a participation of all in the commission in relation to that common intention.
When an offence is sought to be proved only on circumstantial evidence, the allegations of common intention under IPC section 34 normally cannot be established in absence of the meeting of mind, the overt act of the accused, by their conduct, by using the weapons by their utterance of words.
In the case of Suresh Sankharam Nangare v. State of Maharashtra, it was held that “if common intention is proved but no overt act is attributed to the individual accused, section 34 IPC 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, IPC section 34 cannot be invoked. Simply the court stated that there must be a prior meeting of minds.”
Most of the time, the common intention is confused with section 149 (ebook) which states that every member of the unlawful assembly is guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of a common object.
It is to be understood that the operations of both the sections differ from each other.
Both the sections, 149 and section 34 Indian Penal Code deal with the association of person who becomes liable for punishment for the act committed by them.
In order to hold a person vicariously liable under IPC 34 or section 149, it is not necessary to prove that each and every one of them was involved in the overt act. This principle was held in the case of Ram Blias Singh v. the State of Bihar.
The term of punishment for each individual who has committed the act with common intention depends on the nature and gravity of the offence committed.