RAMESH ALIAS DAPINDER SINGH
STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.347 OF 2021(Arising out of SPL (Crl.) No.2645 of 2021)
Decided on March 22, 2021
JUDGES– Uday Umesh Lalit & K.M. Joseph, JJ.
The Appellant was the co-accused who has preferred the appeal challenging the order passed by the High Court. The original informant who was the friend of the deceased lodged an F.I.R. under sections 302,323 and 324/34 Indian Penal Code and narrated the version that the deceased was murdered by his friend’s two maternal uncles and one Ramesh. The informant went to the house of his maternal uncle along with his two friends where his uncle abused them and started quarrelling therefore they somehow managed to leave the place. The informant and his friends where stopped on the way by his two maternal uncles and Ramesh who were driving the motorcycle and all the three assaulted them(victims) with danda and sticks. One by one blows were given to all the three persons, soon the informant ran and hid behind the bush and one of his friend also did the same but the third victim Daljit Singh was murdered and other two were injured. Hence, the informant came out from the bush and saw the dead body lying and informed the police. There were inconsistency between the testimony of both the victims and inspite of the same the court convicted all three accused under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC; Section 323 read with Section 34 of the IPC; and Section 324 of the IPC
Whether the High Court has erred in convicting the accused under Section302,323 and 324/34 IPC in light of the action or overt act?
The Supreme Court allow the appeal and gave the benefit of doubt to the Appellant/accused and he was only found guilty of the offence punishable under sections 323 read with 34, IPC as he wasneither armed with any Lathi or Danda nor was there any assertion from victims attributing any specific overt act to the appellant. In addition to this, it was stated that the appellant had run away from the spot and had raised a cry, upon which many people gathered at the spot and therefore in light of the same the Supreme Court laying down the principle of criminal vicarious liability held that the appellant is guilty under Section 323 read with Section 34 of the IPC and not under Section under sections 302 and 324 read with Section 34 IPC. The Supreme Court observed that principle of vicarious liability under Section 34 of the IPC states, “when a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all”, each of those persons would be liable for ‘that act’ in the same manner as if it were done by him alone. First and foremost, the ocular testimony in support of the prosecution is only by way of the testimony of victim i.e Informant. That witness/informant did not attribute any specific overt act to the appellant insofar assault on the deceased was concerned; nor was the appellant stated to be armed with any weapon. The Supreme Court observed that it was not even the case that the appellant had exhorted or had facilitated, in any manner, the assault on the deceased. The only attribution to the appellant was regarding common or collective act where “three persons got down from the motorcycle and started assaulting with Danda and fist blows” therefore in light of the same the appellant could only be punished under Section 323/34 IPC.
1. Dharam Pal and others v. State of Haryana (1978) 4 SCC 440
“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. …”