Negotiable Instruments: Exhaustive Coverage by Adv Roma Bhagat. Register Now!
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  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court (SC or Court),in Krishnamurthy @ Gunodu v State of Karnataka, has observed that Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is not attracted if the final outcome is remote and unconnected with common intention amongst the perpetrators.  
  • The matter arose as a result of conviction of one of the Petitioners named Krishnamurthy (main accused) convicted under Section 302 of IPC and his accomplices, Gopala and Thimmappa (co-accused). He was charged with brutally and cruelly kicking and assaulting one Mr. Venkataram(deceased) on the neck with his legsand hands.  
  • While the Court affirmed itself of the main accused’s involvement in the crime, the question to be addressed was given the role and acts of the co-accused, whether they could be individually convicted for the murder.  
  • After examining the witnesses, the court observed that the Section 34 of IPC incorporates the principle of shared intent which puts co-perpetrators of a crime on the same footing as that of the principal perpetrator.  
  • The Court observed that in order to attract applicability of Section 34, the prosecution must establish a common connection between the perpetrators which can u=be used to vicariously convict the other person for the criminal act and the act should be don’t in furtherance of a common intention.  
  • Elaborating on common intention, the Court remarked that common intention may be by an overt or covert act, by active presence or at distant location.  A person only standing as a guard to prevent any prospective aid to the victim may also be guilty of common intention on the principle that “they also servewho only stand and wait”.  
  • Analysing the rulings laid down in earlier judgments, the Court also observed that every co-perpetrator should have necessary intent to participate or requisite awareness or knowledge that the offence is likely to be committed in furtherance of a common intent.  
  • In this regard, the Court noted that common intention is necessarily a psychological factas it requires prior meeting of minds and this common intention need not be pre-planned.  It would suffice even if the intention was formed just a minute before the actual act.  
  • Further, the Court observed that the manner of attack, type of injuries inflicted, weapon used and conducts/ acts of the co-perpetrators, object and purpose behind the occurrence or the attack, etc. are all relevant facts from which inference must be drawn to arrive at a conclusion whether or notthe ingredients of Section 34 IPC are satisfied.  
  • Further explaining the expression “act in furtherance of common intention”, the Court observed that if the offence is distinctly remote and unconnected with the common intention, Section 34 would not be attracted.  However, if the act was done was primarily connected in such a way as to manifest the mutual consent for carrying out common purpose, it will fall within the scope and ambit of theact done in furtherance of common intention.  
  • Applying the aforementioned principles, to the facts of the instant case, the Court remarked that in the present case, the co-accused were entitled to benefit of doubt on the ground that it could not be proved with certainty that they had a common intention with the main accused.  
  • The co-accused did not participate in any physical assault or cause any injury on the deceased; neither did they offer any help to the main accused.  They could also not have possibly preconceived the brutal assault by main accused.  There was nothing to indicate thattheir acts of holding the hands and pulling the legs of thedeceased making him fall down, were done in furtherance of the common intention.  
  • In light of all the above discussion, the Court converted the conviction of the co-accused under Section 323 read with Section 34 of IPC and upheld their conviction for individual offences under Sections 447, 504, 506 and 341.  
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