SC`s ruling on conviction for "common intention"
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that
a person can be convicted for murder even if he/she is merely
standing with the other accused to prevent any assistance to
"The acts committed by different confederates in the
criminal action may be different but all must in one way or
the other participate and engage in the criminal enterprise.
Even a person not doing any particular act but only standing
guard to prevent any prospective aid to the victims may be
guilty of common intention.
"However, it is essential that in case of an offence
involving physical violence it is essential for the
application of Section 34 (Common Intention) that such accused
must be physically present at the actual commission of crime
for the purposes of facilitating accomplishment of "criminal
act" as mentioned in that section," the apex court said in a
The apex court passed the ruling while dismissing the
appeal of Virendra Singh, who challenged his life imprisonment
in a murder case on the ground that he did not attack the
victim and that the actual killing was done by the co-accused.
He was earlier sentenced to life imprisonment along with
two others by a sessions court in Madhya Pradesh and the
sentence was confirmed by the High Court.
Upholding the conviction, the apex court said under
Section 34 of the IPC, the persons who are connected with the
preparation of a crime are divided into two categories: (1)
those who actually commit the crime, i.e. principals in the
first degree; and (b) those who aid in the actual commission,
i.e. principals in the second degree.
"Law does not make any distinction with regard to the
punishment of such persons, all being liable to be punished
"Under the Indian Penal Code, a person is responsible
for his own act. A person can also be vicariously responsible
for the acts of others if he had a common intention to
commit the acts or if the offence is committed by any
member of the unlawful assembly in prosecution of the
common object of that assembly, then also he can be
vicariously responsible," the Bench said.
According to the apex court, the common intention
postulates the existence of a pre-arranged plan implying a
prior meeting of the minds.
"It is the intention to commit the crime and the accused
can be convicted only if such an intention has been shared by
all the accused," the Bench added.
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