Common intention and common object are the concepts which are attracted in the cases where the acts are done by several persons. The concept of common intention is provided under Section 34 of IPC and Section 149 of IPC provides for the concept of common object.
The concept of common intention under Section 34 lays down the principle of joint liability. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention is considered as a substantive offence under Section 34. The common intention as provided under Section 34 is defined as the pre-oriented plan and acting in pursuance to the plan by the Apex Court in the case of Shyamal Ghosh v. State of West Bengal.[i]
The offence under the said provision prescribes the following as the essential ingredients-
1. Common intention between the several persons committing the act. Common intention means prior meeting of minds of the persons acting.
2. Persons should have participated in any act constituting an offence.
In the case of Jai Bhagwan v. State of Haryana[ii], the Supreme Court observed that to apply Section 34, apart from the fact that there should be two or more accused, two factors must be established:
- Common intention, and (ii) Participation of accused in the act which is an offence under IPC.
If common intention is proved but no overt act is attributed to the individual accused, Section 34 will be attracted as it involves vicarious liability. But if the participation of the accused in the crime is proved while there exists no common intention, Section 34 cannot be invoked.
Further, in the case of Suresh Sankharam Nangare v. State of Maharashtra[iii], the court reiterated that to attract Section 34, it requires a pre-arranged plan and pre-supposes prior consent, therefore there must be a prior meeting of minds.
Burden of proof: The burden of proof shall lie on the prosecution to prove the following-
1. actual participation of more than one person for commission of criminal act
2. such act was done in furtherance of common intention at a prior concert.[iv]
Chapter VIII of the IPC deals with the offences against public tranquillity. Section 141 defines an unlawful assembly and it specifies the existence of common object amongst the members of the assembly to commit any of the enlisted acts. Therefore, the existence of a common object is the vital ingredient while determining the offences under Chapter VIII of IPC.
Specifically, while considering the concept of common object, section 149 of IPC which provides that if any incriminating act is done to accomplish the common object of unlawful assembly, then it is punishable must be revered. The reason for considering Section 149 is, this provision punishes the common object if the offence has been committed in order to act in accordance with the common object.
In the case of Roy Fernandes v. State of Goa[v], the Supreme Court held that to determine the existence of common object, the court is required to see both the circumstances in which the incident had taken place and conduct of members of unlawful assembly which includes the weapon of offence that the accused persons used to commit the offence.
Further, in the case of Ramachandran v. State of Kerala[vi], the Apex Court clarified that common object may form on spur of the moment and prior concert in the sense of meeting of unlawful assembly members is no necessary.
Applicability of Section 149:
1. In the case of Waman v. State of Maharashtra[vii], the Supreme Court held that section 149 of IPC is attracted where a member of an unlawful assembly has committed an act in prosecution of the common object. It must be within the knowledge of the other members of the assembly. If the members of the assembly knew or were aware of the likelihood of a particular offence being committed in prosecution of a common object, they would be liable for the same under section 149.
2. In the case of Yunis alias Kariya v. State of Madhya Pradesh[viii], the Apex Court affirmed that when the charge is under section 149, the presence of the accused as a part of unlawful assembly is sufficient for conviction and imputation of the overt act on him is not essential to be proved.
Joint and vicarious liability under section 149: Section 149 specifies that it holds every member of the unlawful assembly liable for the offence committed in consonance with the common object of the unlawful assembly. Therefore, it establishes a joint liability. In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Joseph MingelKoli[ix], the High Court held that it is well settled that once a membership of an unlawful assembly is established, the prosecution need not prove that the accused has been assigned with any overt act to be committed by him in order to accomplish the common object. Mere membership of the unlawful assembly is enough to be held liable for the offence committed in prosecution of the common object.
Further, in the case of Amerika Rai v. State of Bihar[x], the Supreme Court clarified 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 committed by the unlawful assembly.
Therefore, the concept of common intention as provided under IPC differs from that of common object on the ground that common intention requires pre-oriented minds and concerted plans whereas, common object has no such requirement of meeting of minds of the members of unlawful assembly before commission of offence.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the 2 major differences between common intention and common object under IPC?
Required number of members
Two or more
Five or more
Pre-oriented plan or pre-supposed prior concert
Edited by – Sakshi Agarwal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i]AIR 2012 SC 3539
[ii] AIR 1999 SC 1083
[iii] 2012 (9) SCALE 245
[iv]Mrinal Das v. State of Tripura, AIR 2011 SC 3753
[v] AIR 2012 SC 1030
[vi]AIR 2011 SC 3581
[vii] AIR 2011 SC 3327
[viii] AIR 2003 SC 539
[ix] (1997) 2 Crimes 228 (Bom)
[x] AIR 2011 SC 1379