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The “common object” of an assembly is to be ascertained from the acts and language of the members co

STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH V. RAVINDRA @ BABLOO AND OTHERS, ON 18TH DECEMBER 2019, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(s).1887 OF 2019, arising out of SLP (Crl.) No(s). 5666 of 2017.

The appeal made by the State to convict the accused was allowed by the Supreme Court under the bench comprised of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Navin Sinha.

Two persons Mahendra Singh and Lokesh were deceased, 5 persons were said as the accused in the beginning. One of the accused was deceased during the course of the trial. Three other accused were found as armed. The High Court acquitted the three respondents as the injuries not being matched.

Mr. Ravindra Kumar Raizada, learned counsel appearing for the appellant, contended that the High Court has made a mistake in setting aside the order of Trial Court. The reason said by the HC was that the injuries on the deceased and the witness were not being matched correctly but the counsel made a contention that “PW­1 was injured in the same incident. The presence of PW­3 as an eye witness has also not been doubted.” The injuries made by the accused are well cumulatively matching with the nature of weapons and with the number of the accused. He further states that the view of nature of ocular evidence available is unsustainable as the witness 3 ie., wife of deceased Lokesh has not been doubted.

Mr. Ankul Chandra Pradhan learned senior counsel appearing for the respondents submitted that the orders of the HC are well reasoned. He made a contention that there is an illogical relation between the ocular and medical evidence if such are two different views are possible the acquittal made by the HC can not be interfered with.

The Supreme Court expressed its view that all the accused hared a common objective. The courts for the question based on the injuries on the two deceased and the injured persons is that the accused are surely more than two-person and it may be of five members.

“The fact that there may not be any firearm injury on the deceased is considered irrelevant for fixing vicarious liability as a member of an unlawful assembly once the presence of the accused possessed of a weapon of assault chasing the deceased along with others stands established by reliable ocular evidence.”

The determinative factors whether the accused has committed the offense as per Section 141 are the assembly consisting of five or more persons fully armed and who entertained one or more of the common objects.

The “common object” of an assembly is to be ascertained from the acts and language of the members comprising it, and from a consideration of all the surrounding circumstances. It may be gathered from the course of conduct adopted by the members of the assembly. What the common object of the unlawful assembly is at a particular stage of the incident is essentially a question of fact to be determined, keeping in view the nature of the assembly, the arms carried by the members, and the behaviour of the members at or near the scene of the incident. The SC held that, “The respondents well understood that the assembly was unlawful and was likely to commit any of the acts which fall within the purview of Section 141.” The appellate court said that they couldn’t find any two varied evidence between the ocular evidence and the medical evidence so the accused can not be acquitted on that on that basis. The court referred to the case Kamaljit Singh vs. State of Punjab to hold the above-said view.

The Supreme Court has set aside the order of the HC and allowed the appeal made by the state.

–  Manusri Ramakrishna

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