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When Law and Disorder Collide: The Tumultuous Tale of a Riot's Aftermath?

The supplementary injury report indicates that no radiological bone injury was observed in the skull. A fracture of the left ulna was noted. The ulna is not a vital part of the body. There was no additional injury report to suggest that the injuries sustained could be fatal. At most, the injury was grievous, and a grievous injury to a non-vital part of the body does not constitute a case under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Regarding the charges framed against the accused, it was alleged that they were members of an unlawful assembly and, in pursuit of the common objective of such assembly-to kill the informant and commit theft of his property-they committed the offense of rioting, punishable under Section 147 IPC. However, charges under Sections 307 and 379 IPC could not be established. An important point of law for consideration is whether the conviction of the accused persons under Section 147 IPC can be sustained.

In cases of rioting, it often occurs that the court may find the story presented by the prosecution to be false in some of its details, yet still sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused. In the present case, the prosecution was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused formed an unlawful assembly with the common objective to assault the informant and that, in furtherance of this common objective, they assaulted the informant. It is not a general proposition of law that a conviction under Section 147 IPC cannot be supported.

The case hinges on whether the common objective is established and agrees in essential parts with that laid out in the charge. If the variance between the common objective alleged and that found is not such as to invalidate the conviction, and the accused persons were not prejudiced by such variance, then the conviction under Section 147 IPC must be sustained (Pryabrata Mukhia vs State of Bihar, 1981, BLJ 329).

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