Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Supreme Court: No law that person accompanying principal culprit for minor offence shares common intention for the major offence committed by him

It may be that when some persons start with a pre-arranged plan to commit a minor offence, they may in the course of their committing the minor offence come to an understanding to commit the major offence as well. Such an understanding may appear from the conduct of the persons sought to be made vicariously liable for the act of the principal culprit or from some other incriminatory evidence but the conduct or other evidence must be such as not to leave any room for doubt in that behalf. 15. A criminal court fastening vicarious liability must satisfy itself as to the prior meeting of the minds of the principal culprit and his companions who are sought to be constructively made liable in respect of every act committed by the former. There is no law to our knowledge which lays down that a person accompanying the principal culprit shares his intention in respect of every act which the latter might eventually commit. The existence or otherwise of the common intention depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The intention of the principal offender and his companions to deal with any person who might intervene to stop the quarrel must be apparent from the conduct of the persons accompanying the principal culprit or some other clear and cogent incriminating piece of evidence. In the absence of such material, the companion or companions cannot justifiably be held guilty for every offence committed by the principal offender.” (Emphasis Supplied)

Unless a common intention is established as a matter of necessary inference from the proved circumstances the accused persons will be liable for their individual act and not for the act done by any other person. For an inference of common intention to be drawn for the purposes of Section 34, the evidence and the circumstances of the case should establish, without any room for doubt, that a meeting of minds and a fusion of ideas had taken place amongst the different accused and in prosecution of it, the overt acts of the accused persons flowed out as if in obedience to the command of a single mind. If on the evidence, there is doubt as to the involvement of a particular accused in the common intention, the benefit of doubt should be given to the said accused person. ….”
33. In Girija Shankar v. State of U.P. 2004 (3)SCC 793, this Court made the following observations:
“9. …… In order to bring home the charge of common intention, the prosecution has to establish by evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, that there was plan or meeting of minds of all the accused persons to commit the offence for which they are charged with the aid of Section 34, be it pre-arranged or on the spur of the moment; but it must necessarily be before the commission of the crime.….” (Emphasis supplied)


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Supreme court lay down tests for determining when a person in possession of the stolen property is the murderer.

In the case of recovery of an article from an accused person when he stands accused of committing offences other than theft also, (in this instance murder), what are the tests:
i. The first thing to be established is that the theft and murder forms part of one transaction. The circumstances may indicate that the theft and murder must have been committed at the same time. But it is not safe to draw the inference that the person in possession of the stolen property was the murderer [See Sanwant Khan (supra)];
ii. The nature of the stolen article;
iii. The manner of its acquisition by the owner;
iv. The nature of evidence about its identification;
v. The manner in which it was dealt with by the accused;
vi. The place and the circumstances of its recovery;
vii. The length of the intervening period;
viii. Ability or otherwise of the accused to explain its possession [See Baiju (supra)].



Dated:MAY 29, 2020.
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Leading Supreme Court judgment on Suspension of conviction if it was on Corruption Charges against a public servant

 The legal position, therefore, is this : Though the power to suspend an order of conviction, apart from the order of sentence, is not alien to Section 389(1) of the Code, its exercise should be limited to very exceptional cases. Merely because the convictional person files an appeal in challenge of the conviction the court should not suspend the operation of the order of conviction. The court has a duty to look at tall aspects including the ramifications of keeping such conviction in abeyance.
No doubt when the appellate Court admits the appeal filed in challenge of the conviction and sentence for the offence under the PC Act, the superior Court should normally suspend the sentence of imprisonment until disposal of the appeal, because refusal thereof would render the very appeal otiose unless such appeal could be heard soon after the filing of the appeal.
But suspension of conviction of the offence under the PC Act, de hors the sentence of imprisonment as a sequel thereto, is different matter.

 If honest public servants are compelled to take orders from proclaimed corrupt officers on account of the suspension of the conviction the fall out would be one of shaking the system itself. Hence it is necessary that the court should not aid the public servant who stands convicted for corruption charges to hold only public office until he is exonerated after conducting a judicial adjudication at the appellate or revisional level.

The legal position can be laid down that when conviction is on a corruption charge against a public servant the appellate Court or the revisional court should not suspend the order of conviction during the pendency of the appeal even if the sentence of imprisonment of suspended. It would be a sublime public policy that the convicted public servant is kept under disability of the conviction in spite of keeping the sentence of imprisonment in abeyance till the disposal of the appeal or revision.

Appeal (crl.) 770 of 2001

Decided On: 02.08.2001

K.C. Sareen Vs  C.B.I., Chandigarh

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
K.T. Thomas and S.N. Variava, JJ.

 Citation : AIR 2001 SC 3320

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Whether accused is absolved of making payment of fine if he has undergone the sentence of default imprisonment?

1) Section 70 of IPC runs as follows :

"The fine, or any part thereof which remains unpaid, may be levied at any time within six years after the passing of the sentence, and if, under the sentence, the offender be liable to imprisonment for a longer period than six years, then at any time previous to the expiration of that period; and the death of the offender does not discharge from the liability any property which would, after his death, be legally liable for his debts."

2) The authors of the Indian Penal Code observe in respect of imprisonment in default of payment of fine :

"We do not mean that this imprisonment shall be taken in full satisfaction of the fine. We cannot consent to permit the offender to choose whether he will suffer in his person or in his property. To adopt such a course would be to grant exemption from the punishment of fine to those very persons on whom it is peculiarly desirable that the punishment of fine should be inflicted, to those very persons who dislike that punishment most, and whom the apprehension of that punishment would be most likely to restrain. We therefore propose that the imprisonment which an offender has undergone shall not release him from the pecuniary obligation under which he lies. His person will, indeed, cease to be answerable for the fine; but his property will for a time continue to be so. 

3) It is thus clear that section 70 meant, to lay down what appears to us to be very clear provision for recovery of the claims of the state against offenders against public justice, in respect of fine even when the accused underwent sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fine; and it is the duty of the Courts to exercise the powers under section 70.

4) Having regard to the provisions of section 70 of the Indian Penal Code, it is clear that an accused cannot escape his liability of payment of fine by undergoing the default sentence and make a mockery of the sentence of fine, which is many times heavy, running into thousands of rupees or nullify the order with regard to the expenses and compensation.

36. We, therefore, upon perusal of the report of the Deputy Registrar and after hearing the Public Prosecutor and in exercise of the powers of this Court under section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, lay down that, as a matter of practice, before returning the writs for recovery of the fine, the subordinate Courts should apply their minds to the provisions of section 421 of the new Criminal Procedure Code and decide whether any warrant is to be issued or whether any other order is to be passed in accordance with section 421, in the light of the observations made herein above.

37. The attention of all the Courts, subordinate to this Court is, therefore, invited to the provisions contained in section 70 of the Indian Penal Code, which must be read along with section 421 of the new Criminal Procedure Code and also the rules framed by the Government under section 386 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, with regard to the manner in which the execution is to be levied, which are continued until modified or superseded under section 484 (2) of the new Criminal Procedure Code.


Cri. Appeal No. 1264 of 1973

Decided On: 28.02.1977

 In Re: Report By Deputy Registrar High Court, Appellate Side Seeking Directions

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
G.N. Vaidya and P.B. Sawant, JJ.

Citation: MANU/MH/0380/1977
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