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Sec.149 I.P.C. – common object – consideration of each role does not arise -Apex court held that The eye witnesses who are natural witnesses, being brothers, have deposed in an unequivocal manner about the assault by all the accused persons. The common object is clearly evident. In such a situation, attribution of specific individual overt act has no role to play. All the requisite tests to attract Section 149 IPC have been established by the prosecution.=Om Prakash … Appellant Versus State of Haryana …Respondent = 2014 ( April. Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41419

Sec.149 I.P.C. – common object – consideration of each role does not arise -Apex court held that The eye witnesses who  are  natural  witnesses,  being  brothers,  have deposed in an unequivocal manner  about  the  assault  by  all  the accused persons.   The common object is clearly evident.  In such  a situation, attribution of specific individual overt act has no role to play.  All the requisite tests to attract Section 149  IPC  have been established by the prosecution.=


Common object of an unlawful assembly can also be gathered from the

        nature of the assembly, the weapons used by  its  members  and  the

        behavior of the assembly at or before the scene of occurrence.   

It

        cannot be stated as a general proposition of  law  that  unless  an

        overt act is proven against the person  who  is  alleged  to  be  a

        member of the unlawful assembly, it cannot be held  that  he  is  a

        member of the assembly.  

What is really required to be seen is that

        the member of the unlawful assembly should have understood that the

        assembly was unlawful and was likely to  commit  any  of  the  acts

        which fall within the purview of Section 141 IPC.  

The core of  the

        offence is the word “object” which means the purpose or design  and

        in order to make it common, it should be shared by  all.   Needless

        to say, the burden is  on  the  prosecution.   

It  is  required  to

        establish whether the accused persons were present and whether they

        shared the common object. 

 It is also an  accepted  principle  that

        number and nature of injuries is a relevant fact to deduce that the

        common object has developed at the time of incident.  (See Lalji v.

        State of U.P.[8], Bhargavan  and  others  v.  State  of  Kerala[9],

        Debashis  Daw  and  others  v.  State  of   West   Bengal[10]   and

        Ramachandran and others v. State of Kerala[11]).


    17. In the case at hand, as the evidence would clearly  show,  all  the

        accused persons had come together armed with lathis.  

Het Ram,  who

        died during the pendency of the appeal, was armed with a gun.   

The

        eye witnesses who  are  natural  witnesses,  being  brothers,  have

        deposed in an unequivocal manner  about  the  assault  by  all  the

        accused persons.  

The common object is clearly evident.  In such  a

        situation, attribution of specific individual overt act has no role

        to play.  All the requisite tests to attract Section 149  IPC  have

        been established by the prosecution.


    18. In view of our aforesaid analysis, as all the contentions raised by

        the learned counsel for the appellants  are  sans  substratum,  the

        appeals, being devoid of merit, stand dismissed.

       2014 ( April. Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41419

K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN, DIPAK MISRA

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1102 OF 2006
Om Prakash … Appellant
Versus
State of Haryana …Respondent
WITH
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1103 OF 2006
Radhey Shyam and others … Appellants
Versus
State of Haryana …Respondent
WITH
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1104 OF 2006
Mange Ram and others … Appellants
Versus
State of Haryana …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Dipak Misra, J.

 

 

The present appeals, by special leave, have been preferred
against the common judgment and order dated 18.03.2005 passed by the
High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal Nos.
78-DB & 146-DB of 1997 with Criminal Revision No. 219 of 1997 whereby
the court has declined to interfere with the judgment of conviction
and order of sentence passed by the learned Addl. Sessions Judge,
Hisar in Sessions Case No. 40 of 1993 for the offences under Sections
148 and 302 read with Section 149 of IPC and affirmed the sentences of
imprisonment for life and payment of fine of Rs. 1000/- by each with
the default clause under Section 302 read with Section 149 of IPC and
rigorous imprisonment of two years under Section 148 IPC with the
stipulation that both the sentences shall be concurrent.

2. Shorn of unnecessary details, the prosecution version is that on
28.06.1993 the informant, Satbir Singh, PW 3, along with his two
brothers, namely, Mahinder Singh, PW 7 and Prabhu Dayal (deceased)
had gone to Hisar to enroll themselves in the Border Security Force
for which interviews were being held at Hisar. About 3.00 p.m. all
of them returned from Hisar in a Machanised Cart (Pater Rehra) and
alighted at the bus stand of their village, Sadalpur. At that
time, the accused-appellants, namely, Man Singh, Radhey Sham, Bhal
Singh, Ram Kanwar, Raja Ram, Mange Ram, Kirpa Ram and Prem Singh
emerged from the rear of Kotha (chamber), located nearby, Het Ram
armed with a gun and all others armed with lathis. All of them
raised a lalkara with the intention to assault the informant and
his two brothers, Mahinder Singh and Prabhu Dayal, as the later had
earlier caused injuries to them. Forming an unlawful assembly,
with the common object they inflicted injuries on Prabhu Dayal with
their lathis and butt of the gun. Prabhu Dayal fell down on the
road. Being scared, the informant and his brother Mahinder Singh
ran away and stood near the wall of the water reservoir.
Thereafter, Om Prakash came on a tractor bearing registration No.
HR-20A-8022, ran over Prabhu Dayal and fled away from the scene of
occurrence along with their weapons in the tractor. The informant
and his brother Mahinder Singh went to see the condition of Prabhu
Dayal who had sustained injuries on his arms, legs, waist and head
and bleeding profusely. He was taken to the Government Hospital,
Adampur in a Machanised Cart and first aid was given to him.
During his examination by the medical officer he succumbed to his
injuries at 5.50 p.m. and the hospital staff informed the nearby
police station about his death. The Investigating Officer, Ronaski
Ram, PW-8, recorded the statement of Satbir Singh, PW-3, and on
that base registered an FIR No. 100/93 at 7.45 p.m. and the
criminal law was set in motion.

3. In course of investigation, the investigating agency prepared the
inquest report, got the post mortem conducted and collected the
blood stained earth vide seizure memo Ext. PM. On 2.07.1993 the
Investigating Officer arrested Man Singh, Radhey Shyam, Ram Kumar,
Raja Ram and Om Prakash. All of them led to discovery of the
weapons used in the alleged commission of crime. After completing
the investigation charge-sheet was placed against the
aforementioned accused persons.

4. The accused persons pleaded innocence and false implication due to
animosity. Be it noted, in course of trial after some evidence was
recorded, the learned trial Judge, on the basis of an application
preferred by the public prosecutor under Section 319 of the Code
summoned the other accused persons, namely, Bhal Singh, Mange Ram,
Kirpa Ram, Het Ram and Prem Singh to face trial.

5. In order to prove its case, the prosecution, examined eight
witnesses, namely, Dr. Pratap Singh, PW-1, Om Prakash, Patwari, PW-
2, Satbir Singh, PW-3, Dr. P.L. Jindal, PW-4, Basant Kumar, PW-5,
Ram Kumar, Asst. Sub Inspector, PW-6, Mahinder Singh, PW-7 and
Ronaski Ram, Investigating officer, PW-8. No evidence in defence
was adduced by the accused. However, a copy of the judgment
relating to land dispute between the parties and copy of FIR No. 6
dated 9.1.1993 and copy of Election Petition, Ext. DC titled as
Sohan Lal v. Nardwari and others were tendered in evidence to
substantiate the plea of enmity. The learned trial Judge on
appreciation of evidence brought on record came to hold that the
prosecution had brought home the charges beyond any reasonable
doubt and, accordingly, convicted all the accused persons and
sentenced each of them as has been stated hereinbefore.

6. Being dissatisfied with the judgment of conviction and order of
sentence the accused persons preferred appeal before the High Court
raising many a stand and stance. The High Court repelled all the
contentions by holding that there was no delay in lodging of the
FIR; that there was enmity between the parties inasmuch as
litigations were pending; that the two eye witnesses Satbir Singh,
PW-3, and Mahinder Singh, PW-7, are natural witnesses and their
testimony could not be discarded solely because of their
relationship with the deceased; that their evidence is
unimpeachable and the contradictions being minor do not create any
dent in their version; that the medical evidence assuredly
corroborates the ocular testimony of the eye witnesses; that the
defective and tilted investigation would not corrode the evidence
brought on record which prove the case of the prosecution to the
hilt and, eventually, gave the stamp of approval to the verdict of
the trial court.

7. Mr. Ram Niwas Kush, learned counsel appearing for the appellants,
has urged that there is delay in lodging of the FIR inasmuch though
the occurrence took place about 3.00 p.m., yet the FIR was not
lodged till 7.45 p.m. and in the backdrop of enmity there was ample
time to think, add and embellish the versions, apart from roping in
number of persons, which creates a grave suspicion in the whole
case put forth by the prosecution. Learned counsel would contend
that the evidence brought on record do not remotely prove that a
tractor has made to run over certain parts of the body of the
deceased as alleged by the prosecution and, therefore, both the
courts have fallen into error by recording the conviction. The
last plank of submission is that all the accused persons could not
have been convicted under Section 302 IPC in aid of Section 149
IPC.

8. Mr. Ramesh Kumar, learned counsel for the State, supported the
conviction and the sentences recorded by the trial court which has
been concurred with by the High Court, on the ground that the FIR
was lodged in quite promptitude and the appreciation of evidence by
both the courts is absolutely flawless.

9. First, we shall deal with the contention pertaining to delay in
lodging of the FIR. It is not in dispute that the occurrence took
place about 3.00 p.m. and thereafter, the deceased was carried by a
merchandised cart to the primary health centre where he was
administered some treatment but he succumbed to his injuries. On
being informed by the hospital staff, the police arrived at the
hospital and recorded the statement of the informant, Satbir Singh,
PW-3, and thereafter an FIR was registered at 7.45 p.m. From the
sequence of the events which include consumption of time in
carrying the injured to the hospital, treatment availed of by
Prabhu Dayal, information given by the concerned authority of the
primary health centre and arrival of police and also taking note of
the distance, i.e., 24 kilometers from the place of occurrence, we
do not think that there is any delay in lodging of the FIR. That
apart, it is settled in law that mere delay in lodging the first
information report cannot by itself be regarded as fatal to the
prosecution case. True it is, the court has a duty to take notice
of the delay and examine the same in the backdrop of the factual
score, whether there has been any acceptable explanation offered by
the prosecution and whether the same deserves acceptation being
satisfactory, but when delay is satisfactorily explained, no
adverse inference is to be drawn. It is to be seen whether there
has been possibility of embellishment in the prosecution version on
account of such delay. These principles have been stated in
Meharaj Singh v. State of U.P.[1], State of H.P. v. Gian Chand[2],
Ramdas and others v. State of Maharashtra[3], Kilakkatha Parambath
Sasi and others v. State of Kerala[4] and Kanhaiya Lal and others
v. State of Rajasthan[5].

10. In the present case, as we find, there is, in fact, no delay.
Learned counsel for the appellants would emphasise on the concept
that effort has to be made to lodge the report at the earliest, but
the “earliest”, according to us, cannot be put in the compartment
of absolute precision. Apart from what we have stated, the impact
of the crime on the relations who are eye witnesses, the shock and
panic which would rule supreme at the relevant time and other
ancillary aspects are also to be kept in mind. That apart, as we
notice, the FIR is not the result of any embellishment which has
the roots in any kind of afterthought. Considering the totality of
facts and circumstances the submission of learned counsel for the
appellants pertaining to delay in lodging of the FIR being totally
unacceptable is hereby rejected.

11. The next limb of submission is that the evidence brought on record
do not establish beyond doubt that the accused Om Prakash had run a
tractor on the deceased. In this context, Satbir Singh, PW-3, and
Mahinder Singh, PW-7, the elder brothers of the deceased, have
categorically deposed that the accused persons had given blows with
lathis and Om Prakash had run the tractor over the deceased. Dr.
Jindal, PW-4, who had examined the deceased prior to death, had
found 11 injuries on his body. He had not expressed any opinion on
injury Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8 and observed that final opinion would
be expressed after x-ray had been done. In examination-in-chief,
referring to his opinion, Ex. PK/1, he has stated that injuries on
both legs and arms on the person of the deceased could be caused by
tractor wheels and the other injuries could be caused by lathi
blows. In the cross-examination barring that he had not found the
tyre mark on the pyjama of the injured nothing substantial has been
elicited.

12. Dr. Partap Singh, PW-1, who conducted the autopsy, had found the
following injuries: –

“1. A stitched wound 1 ¼ long on the right side of parental
region one inch above the hair line. On exploration, there
was extra vacation of blood in layers scalp. The wound was
superficial.

2. A scabbed abrasion 1” x 1” on the right cheek. It was red
in colour.

3. Multiple contusions of various sizes and shape, covering
the back of chest and abdomen. Reddish in colour.

4. A stitched wound ½” long on the back of upper arm on right
thigh. Wound was bone deep.

5. Multiple contusions covering the upper half of right fore-
arm, right elbow and lower half of right upper, reddish in
colour. On exploration, the underlying bones were
fractured (right humorous and upper part of right radius
and ulna.)

6. A lacerated wound ½ inch long and ¼” wide, and bone deep
present on the upper part of left fore-arm.

7. A stitched wound 1” long on the back of middle of left
upper arm. Clotted blood was present.

8. Multiple contusions covering the lower part of left upper
arm, elbow and upper part of left fore-arm, reddish in
colour. The underlying bones (upper part of left radius,
ulna and lower part of left humorous) were fractured.

9. A lacerated and stitched wound 1” long present on the left
of leg on its middle. Clotted blood was present. The
underlying bones were fractured.

10. A lacerated and stitched wound 1” long present just medial
to injury No. 9, clotted blood was present.

11. A lacerated and stitched wound 2” long, present on the
front of lower one third of right leg.

12. A stitched wound 1” long, 2 inch lateral to injury No. 11
clotted blood was present.

13. A stitched wound 1 ½” long present 1 ½” medial to injury
No. 11. Clotted blood was present.”

 

13. In his examination-in-chief he has clearly stated that some of the
injuries could have been caused by the relevant organ of the
body/struck by a blunt countering by the wheel of a tractor. The
submission of the learned counsel for the appellants is that there
is no clear cut opinion by the two doctors and, in fact, there is
an irreconcilable contradiction which would show that no injury was
caused by running over of a tractor falsifying the case of the
prosecution. The said submission leaves us unimpressed inasmuch as
we really do not find that there is any contradiction of that
nature which would cause a concavity in the version of the
prosecution. As we find, the ocular testimony has been
corroborated by the medical evidence to a major extent in that
regard and hence, it would be inappropriate to discard the
prosecution case. That apart, the mental condition of the
witnesses can be well appreciated and, in any case, they were not
expected to state with exactitude how the injuries were caused by
the tractor. From the evidence of Dr. Jindal, PW-4, it is
evincible that the injuries sustained by the deceased on his legs
and arms could have been caused by the tractor wheels. Similar is
the opinion of Dr. Partap Singh, PW-1 and in the cross-examination
he has explained why crush injuries were not there. It is also
worthy to mention that nothing has been elicited in the cross-
examination of the eye witnesses on that score. In fact, no
suggestion has also been given. It has come out in the evidence
that all the accused persons had carried lathis and most of the
injuries were caused due to lathi blows and some by the tractor.
Thus, the ocular testimony gets corroboration from the medical
evidence, and, therefore, the stance that the prosecution witnesses
have made an effort to exaggerate their version ascribing a serious
role to Om Prakash, in our considered opinion, is mercurial and
deserves to be repelled and we do so.

14. It is next submitted by learned counsel for the appellants that the
so called eye witnesses have not ascribed any specific overt act to
each of the accused and there are only spacious allegations that
they were armed with lathis and inflicted injuries on the deceased.
In essence, the submission is that in the absence of any specific
ascription or attribution of any particular role specifically to
each of the accused Section 149 IPC would not be attracted. In
this regard, we may refer to a passage from Baladin and others v.
State of Uttar Pradesh[6] wherein a three-Judge Bench had opined
thus: –

“It is well settled that mere presence in an assembly does not
make such a person a member of an unlawful assembly unless it is
shown that he had done something or omitted to do something
which would make him a member of an unlawful assembly, or unless
the case falls under Section 142, Indian penal Code.”

 

15. The aforesaid enunciation of law was considered by a four-Judge
Bench in Masalti v. The State of Uttar Pradesh[7] which
distinguished the observations made in Baladin (supra) on the
foundation that the said decision should be read in the context of
the special facts of the case and may not be treated as laying down
an unqualified proposition of law. The four-Judge Bench, after
enunciating the principle, stated as follows: –

“It would not be correct to say that before a person is held to
be a member of an unlawful assembly, it must be shown that he
had committed some illegal overt act or had been guilty of some
illegal omission in pursuance of the common object of the
assembly. In fact, S. 149 make it clear that if an offence is
committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution
of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of
the assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of
that object, every person who, at the time of committing of that
offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that
offence; and that emphatically brings out the principle that the
punishment prescribed by S. 149 is in a sense vicarious and does
not always proceed on the basis that the offence has been
actually committed by every member of the unlawful assembly.”

 

16. Common object of an unlawful assembly can also be gathered from the
nature of the assembly, the weapons used by its members and the
behavior of the assembly at or before the scene of occurrence. It
cannot be stated as a general proposition of law that unless an
overt act is proven against the person who is alleged to be a
member of the unlawful assembly, it cannot be held that he is a
member of the assembly. What is really required to be seen is that
the member of the unlawful assembly should have understood that the
assembly was unlawful and was likely to commit any of the acts
which fall within the purview of Section 141 IPC. The core of the
offence is the word “object” which means the purpose or design and
in order to make it common, it should be shared by all. Needless
to say, the burden is on the prosecution. It is required to
establish whether the accused persons were present and whether they
shared the common object. It is also an accepted principle that
number and nature of injuries is a relevant fact to deduce that the
common object has developed at the time of incident. (See Lalji v.
State of U.P.[8], Bhargavan and others v. State of Kerala[9],
Debashis Daw and others v. State of West Bengal[10] and
Ramachandran and others v. State of Kerala[11]).

17. In the case at hand, as the evidence would clearly show, all the
accused persons had come together armed with lathis. Het Ram, who
died during the pendency of the appeal, was armed with a gun. The
eye witnesses who are natural witnesses, being brothers, have
deposed in an unequivocal manner about the assault by all the
accused persons. The common object is clearly evident. In such a
situation, attribution of specific individual overt act has no role
to play. All the requisite tests to attract Section 149 IPC have
been established by the prosecution.

18. In view of our aforesaid analysis, as all the contentions raised by
the learned counsel for the appellants are sans substratum, the
appeals, being devoid of merit, stand dismissed.
……………………………..J.
[K.S. Radhakrishnan]

 
……………………………..J.
[Dipak Misra]
New Delhi;
April 16, 2014.
———————–
[1] (1994) 5 SCC 188
[2] (2001) 6 SCC 71
[3] (2007) 2 SCC 170
[4] (2011) 4 SCC 552
[5] (2013) 5 SCC 655
[6] AIR 1956 SC 181
[7] AIR 1965 SC 202
[8] (1989) 1 SCC 437
[9] (2004) 12 SCC 414
[10] (2010) 9 SCC 111
[11] (2011) 9 SCC 257

 

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