Vicarious criminal liability for sharing common intention
Determination of common intention:
Section 34 of Penal Code is as under:
“Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.—When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.”
In order to attract Section 34 IPC, the following ingredients must be established:
(i) there was common intention in the sense of a pre-arranged plan;
(ii) the person sought to be so held liable had participated in some manner in the act constituting the offence.
[See: Chandrakant Murgyappa Umrani Vs. State of Maharashtra, 1998 SCC (Cri) 698; Hamlet @ Sasi & Ors. Vs. State of Kerala,(2003) 10 SCC 108); Surendra Chauhan Vs. State of M.P., (2000) 4 SCC 110]
It is manifest that common intention refers to a prior concert or meeting of minds, and though, it is not necessary that the existence of a distinct previous plan must be proved, as such common intention may develop at the spur of the moment, yet the meeting of minds must be prior to the commission of offence suggesting the existence of a pre-arranged plan. Therefore, in order to attract Section 34 of the IPC, the complaint must, prima facie, reflect a common prior concert or planning amongst all the accused.
[Source: Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited & Anr. vs. Datar Switchgear Limited & Ors., (2010) 10 SCC 479]