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Despite lack of action, common intent of a group is enough reason for conviction, says Supreme Court

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court has held that it is not necessary that before a person is convicted on the ground of common intention, he must be actively involved in the physical activity of assault. If the nature of evidence displays a pre-arranged plan and acting in concert pursuant to the plan, common intention can be inferred.

The Court was hearing the appeal filed by three accused, convicted under Section 302/34 and sentenced to life imprisonment, had sought acquittal in a case where 2 men died as a result of assault by the Appellants. 

The division bench of Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee, explained that common intention consists of several persons acting in unison to achieve a common purpose, though their roles may be different. The role may be active or passive is irrelevant, once common intention is established.

“There can hardly be any direct evidence of common intention.  It is more a matter of inference to be drawn from the facts and circumstances of a case based on the cumulative assessment of the nature of evidence available against the participants.”

The foundation for conviction on the basis of common intention is based on the principle of vicarious responsibility by which a person is held to be answerable for the acts of others with whom he shared the common intention. The presence of the mental element or the intention to commit the act if cogently established is sufficient for conviction, without actual participation in the assault. It is therefore not necessary that before a person is convicted on the ground of common intention, he must be actively involved in the physical activity of assault. If the nature of evidence displays a pre-arranged plan and acting in concert pursuant to the plan, common intention can be inferred. A common intention to bring about a particular result may also develop on the spot as between a number of persons deducible from the facts and circumstances of a particular case.

“The coming together of the Accused to the place of occurrence, some or all of whom may be armed, the manner of assault, the active or passive role played by the accused, are but only some of the materials for drawing inferences.”

On the basis of above given reasons the Court has refused to grant any benefit to appellant on the plea that there is no role or act of assault attributed to him, denying the existence of any common intention for that reason.

The Court has found no reason to interfere with the conviction and sentence of the Appellant. Appeal is dismissed, accordingly.

Read the judgment here;

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-ILNS

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