RAMACHANDRAN & ORS VS STATE OF KERALA
Petitioner: Ramachandran & Ors. Etc.
Respondent: State Of Kerala
Scope and object of Section 149 of IPC
• Babu, Sobhanan, and Parvathy all relatives were having inimical terms with the appellants.
• In order to take revenge, the appellants formed an unlawful assembly for the purpose of committing murder of Sobhanan.
• The accused chased him till his house and after breaking in started beating and inflicted injuries.
• On seeing this, Kuttappan (father of Sobhanan) and Babu came to rescue.
• The appellants rushed towards Kuttappan (deceased) shouting "Kill them" and thereafter, they inflicted a cut injury on the head and body injuryto the deceased with a sword stick and other weapons, namely, choppers, knives, and iron rods.
• When Babu (PW.1) and Parvathy (PW.4) attempted to intervene, they were also attacked by the appellants and injured.
• On the conclusion of the trial, the court convicted all the accused under different sections of IPC with Section 149, 302, 307 of IPC.
• On appeal to High Court, the court modified the order of the trial court to the extent that the conviction of some accused under Section 302 IPC was set aside. However, their conviction and sentence for other offences have been confirmed.
• Then an appeal in SC was filled.
• The appellants had not proceeded with common object to kill any person in as much as to killKuttappan, thus, provisions of Section 149 IPC are not attracted. The main object was to catch hold of Sobhanan.
• In a case, where a very large number of assailants are there and the incident is over in a short span of time, it is not possible for the eye-witnesses to identify all the accused and give a detailed description of participation of each of them. Thus, evidence of the eye-witnesses cannot be relied upon.
• Moreover, Sobhananhad become unconscious after being beaten and regained consciousness after two days, thus, it was not possible for him to see the incident regarding the death of his father Kuttuppan.
• The court held that Section 149 IPC has two essential ingredients:
i. offence committed by any member of an unlawful assembly consisting of five or more members
ii. such offence must be committed in prosecution of the common object of the assembly or members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of the common object.
• The common object is not necessary to be decided prior to offence. The common object can develop on spur of the moment.
• An offence which the members knew was likely to be committed is also covered under section 149.
• Even though their main object was to catch hold of Sobhanan but he suffered serious injuries and escaped from death by luck.
• Regarding the evidence the court observed that minor contradictions appeared in the evidence of witnesses is to be ignored because the exact version of the incident revealing every minute detail cannot be expected from the eye-witnesses.
Section 149 IPC declares vicarious liability of all members of unlawful assembly for acts done in a common object. The court defined the scope and object of this section. This section consists of two parts:
i. The offence must be committed by an unlawful assembly i.e. five or more members. It is not necessary that all the members must participate in some overt act. There are criminally liable under this section if they had a common object or knew beforehand that the offence actually committed was likely to be committed in prosecution of the common object. But without their intention or knowledge of the likelihood of the commission of the offence, mere presence or association with other members alone does not per se be sufficient to hold every one of them criminally liable for the offences committed by the others.
ii. There must be a common object or the members of that assembly knew the offence likely to be committed is in the prosecution of the common object.Acommon object is a purpose shared by all. They all should be aware of it and concur with it. It may be modified or altered or abandoned at any stageby all or a few members of the assembly and the other members may just join and adopt it.Even if the offence committed is not in direct prosecution of the common object of the assembly, it may yet fall under Section 149 IPC if it can be held that the offence was such as the members knew was likely to be committed.