Common Intention V. Common Object

Introduction

In criminal law many of section deals with ‘Intention’ of committing a crime and it plays a significant role. Criminal Intention is known in criminal law to be a crucial ingredient in order to commit an offense. Common intention and common objects are applied when there is more than one criminal in the scenario. It provides for the affinity between two alleged criminals and that they might have a common object for committing a particular crime.

Indian Penal Code, 1860 under Section 34 and Section 149 provide the rule of constructive liability meaning, that a person is responsible for the repercussions of another person’s actions, but Section 34 and Section 149 should never be used interchangeably. In Section 34 and Section 149, the law of common intention is in no aspect is same and has its own distinct component.

Chapter Eight of the Indian Penal Code relates from section 141 to section 160 to’ Offenses against Public Tranquillity.’ Offenses against public peace, also known as ‘Group Offenses,’ lead to public peace disturbance.

Common Intention

Section 34 of IPC, 1860 provides Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention as, 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.

Object

Section 34 lays provides for a rule of evidence and does not create a substantive offense. This section helps in resolving the doubt in which it may be difficult to determine between the acts of the individual members of a party or to justify what part was taken by each individual in furtherance of the common intention of all.

Elements

  1. Some Criminal Act: – ‘Criminal act’ used in section 34 refer to a crime which is committed by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all of them, every one of them doing some act, similar or different will be liable for that act.
  2. Criminal Act Done by Several Persons: – The alleged criminal act must have been done by several persons meaning, the act must be done by more than one person. The count of wrongdoers must be at least two.
  3. Common Intention: – Common intention should be there between the several persons committing the alleged criminal act. Common intention means a prior meeting of minds of the persons acting.
    Common intention also implies a pre-arranged plan. Meaning, prior meeting of minds. The criminal act must be done in concert pursuant to the pre-arranged plan.
  4. Participation In The Criminal Act: – The participation in a criminal act of a group must be some overt act indicative of a common intention to commit an offense. The law requires that the accused must be present on the spot during the occurrence of the crime and take part in its commission; it is enough if he is present somewhere nearby.

Common Object

Section 149 of IPC, 1860 provides for Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of the offense committed in prosecution of a common object, If an offense is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offense, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offense.

Elements

  1. There must be an unlawful assembly, defined under Section 141 of IPC.
  2. A criminal act must be done by any participant of such alleged assembly.
  3. The Act done is in pursuit of the common object of the assembly or such which was likely to be committed in prosecution of the common object.
  4. Members must have voluntarily joined that unlawful assembly and must know the common object of the assembly.
  5. Mere presence of a member and sharing of common object of the assembly will make a person liable for the offense which is committed, even if he had no intention to commit that offense.

Difference between common intention and common object

Under the IPC, both Section 34 and Section 149 provide vicarious liability on every member for an act that is not necessarily done by them.

  • The charge in Section 149 is replaced by Section 34 of the IPC, especially in cases where the accused are acquitted and the sum of the accused drops below 5.
  • Section 34 does not constitute a specific offense but provides only the principle of joint criminal culpability. Whereas Section 149 provides a particular offense and being a participant in an unlawful assembly is itself a criminal offense punishable under Section 143.
  • ‘Common intent’ used in Section 34 has not been defined in the IPC, whereas’ common object’ is one of the five ingredients defined in Section 141 of the IPC.
  • Common intention provides for a preliminary meeting of mind and same purpose, and action need to take in order to promote the common intention of all. And in the common object of the members of the unlawful assembly, the participants’ intention is different, a common object can be formed without a prior meeting of the mind.
  • In order to invoke Section 34, it is necessary that two or more individuals are involved. However, to invoke section 149 there must be at least 5 participants.
  • Participation is a key factor under Section 34, whereas active involvement or action in Section 149 of the IPC is not required.
  • Section 34 needs common intention of any kind. Whereas, One of the items listed in Section 141 must be a common object under Section 149.
  • Section 34 needs some active involvement, especially in the case of a crime involving physical abuse. Section 149 need not active involvement and the responsibility comes from mere membership in the unlawful assembly with a common objective for the crime.

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