17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Dauwalal and Ors. Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh




In a crime committed by an unlawful assembly, every member of unlawful assembly would be guilty of offence, even if he himself had not done actual act

In present matter, First Information Report was lodged with Police Station, District Raipur pursuant to information received at Police Station from Informant Netram. According to the information, the cousin of the Informant named was assaulted fatally. The relevant information had named certain persons to be responsible for the crime from the assembly of 25-30 persons who had gathered outside the house of the deceased.

During the course of investigation, names of 17 persons surfaced as suspects. Those 17 persons including the Appellants were tried for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 323, 342 and 450 of Indian Penal Code as well as under Section 302 read with 149 Indian Penal Code. The Second Additional Sessions Judge, by his judgment found that, the prosecution had established its case completely. All 17 Accused persons were found guilty of the offences with which they were charged.

Criminal Appeal were preferred against the aforesaid conviction and sentence by 10 convicted Accused and 7 convicted Accused respectively in the High Court. By its judgment and order which is presently under appeal, the High Court affirmed the view taken by the Trial Court and dismissed both the appeals.

It is true that, in a crime committed by an unlawful assembly by principle of vicarious liability, every member of the unlawful assembly would be guilty of the offence, even if he himself had not done the actual act. But the facts must indicate with clarity that, such person was in fact a member of the unlawful assembly. The prosecution did not allege that, any of the Appellants had stormed inside the house and had dragged the deceased Parasram. The presence of the Appellant, at best, going by the version of PWs 2 and 4 was outside the house in the street where 25-30 persons had gathered. Out of such gathering, 17 persons were named to be Accused and sent up for trial.

It is crucial to note that PW-2 Netram in his First Information Report had not named any of the Appellants whereas in his statement in Court, the names of the Appellants did occur in his testimony. Even then, he did not attribute any overt act to the Appellants. PW-3 - Urmila also did not name any of the Appellants.

Considering all the factual aspects, it is not established beyond reasonable doubt that the Appellants were guilty of the offences with which they were tried. Benefit of doubt is granted to the Appellants. The appeals are, therefore, allowed and the Appellants are acquitted of all the charges levelled against them.

Tags : Unlawful assembly Conviction Legality

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