`Presence of accused at crime scene sufficient for conviction`

The SC ruled in a case where the groom was murdered on the very next day of his marriage.

Updated: Feb 27, 2011, 12:03 PM IST

New Delhi: Mere presence of an accused at
the crime scene is sufficient to convict a person provided
he had an "active mind in furtherance of the common object",
the Supreme Court has ruled in a case where the groom was
murdered on the very next day of his marriage.

A bench of Justices VS Sirpurkar and AR Dave passed
the ruling while dismissing an appeal of four life convicts
challenging their conviction on the ground that they were
merely present at the site and their active involvement was
not established.

"The law of vicarious liability under Section 149 IPC
is crystal clear that even the presence in the unlawful
assembly, but with an active mind, to achieve the common
object makes such a person vicariously liable for the acts of
the unlawful assembly," Justice Sirpurkar observed.

In this case, the groom Shankar Rai was killed after
the convicts -- Amerika Rai, Mithilesh Rai, Sanjay Rai and
Sipahi Rai along with another Chulhan Raj shot him dead.

The irony was that the convicts and the deceased were
all friends and relatives who had visited the bride`s village
the previous day to attend the marriage at Ishupur village in
Vaishali district in Bihar on June 26, 1995.

At the bride`s village there was an altercation
between members of the two parties. On the next day, when Ram
Babu, the brother-in-law of Shankar was assaulted by the
convicts, Shankar intervened in the matter and after some time
the convicts went inside their house and brought firearms.

In the melee that followed, Shankar was shot dead and
another person seriously injured as he was presumed to be
taking the side of his brother-in-law.

The Sessions Court awarded life imprisonment to six of
them, including Darbesh Rai.

The Patna High Court dismissed their plea following
which two of the convicts Amerika Rai and Mithlesh took the
plea that they were merely present at the scene.

Rejecting the argument, the apex court said the
evidence on record clearly established the involvement of the
five convicts in the case.

"In that light, when the evidence is examined, it is
obvious that Amerika Rai (A-1) who was the elder in the
family, Mithilesh Rai (A-4) and Chulhan Rai (A-3), instead of
acting in a responsible manner and preventing any unpleasant
incident, exhorted the accused persons to bring the gun.

"The guns are normally not brought for making a show.
The exhortation to bring the gun definitely speaks about the
guilty mind of Amerika Rai (A-1), so also the use of guns by
Mithilesh Rai (A-4), Sanjay Rai (A-5) and Sipahi Rai (A-6) is
very clear that they also had guilty mind," the bench said.

PTI