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Supreme Court on 6th August 2019 has held that as long as the ingredients of unlawful assembly are met, Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code can be invoked despite the non-invocation of Section 141 of the Code.

Justice Sanjay K. Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph, in Dev Karan vs. State of Haryana, observed, “The actions of an unlawful assembly and the punishment thereafter are set out in the subsequent provisions, after Section 141 of the IPC, and as long as those ingredients are met, Section 149 of the IPC can be invoked.”

Where the seven accused were inflicting blows on the deceased, at tandem,  and other witnesses trying to intervene also were injured, the merits of narration cannot be challenged on the ground of not being absolutely exact; rather a broad consistency in what transpired at the time is sufficient to determine guilt of the attackers. The Supreme Court has hence affirmed the High Court’s decision of labeling the inaccuracy in witness versions as ‘minor discrepancy’.

On the question of non-invocation of Section 141, Court has relied on substance of law instead of its procedure to come to the logical conclusion. The bench said,

“In Kuldip Yadav v. State of Bihar , it has been opined… that a clear finding regarding the nature of the common object of the assembly must be given and the evidence discussed must show not only the common object, but also that the object was unlawful, before recording a conviction under Section 149 of the IPC. What is required is that the essential ingredients of Section 141 of the IPC must be established.”

Court directed the bailed prisoners to surrender within 15 days to serve out the remaining sentence.

–India Legal Bureau

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