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Case commentary: Murugan v/s State of Tamil Nadu

Criminal Intention is the best form of blameworthiness of mind or mens rea. Intention occupies a symbolic region in criminal law. As the very highest form of the mental element, it applies to homicide and the gravest shape of crimes in the criminal justice system. The term 'intention' isn't defined in Indian Penal Code but segment 34 of IPC deals with common aim.

The purpose made among numerous human beings to do something wrong and act finished in that manner in which it became formulated comes under the sanction of Section 34 of IPC.

In criminal cases common intentions are mentioned under section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1861 says that any acts done by a few people in encouragement of normal aim- When a criminal demonstration is finished by a few people in assistance of the normal goal of all, every one of such people is at risk for that demonstration in a similar way as though it were finished by him alone.[1]

Even though the main accused has died or not, does not lessen the guilt of the co-accused. If an evidence court finds that co-accused in anyhow helped the main accused and had similar intention as the main accused had then co-accused will also face the same charges.

Essential details of the case
Case Citation: MANU/SC/0486/2018
Petitioner(s): Murugan v/s Respondent(s): State of Tamil Nadu
Concerned Statues and Provisions: Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) - Section 34, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) - Section 302, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) - Section 364; Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) - Section 313; Constitution of India - Article 136.
Bench: R.K.Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre,jj.
Date of Judgment: 02.05.2018
Present Status: co-accused is liable as had common intention
Counsels: For Appellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff: Chitrangda Rastravara, Aishwarya Bhati, T. Gopal, Tanuja Patra and Karan Singh Bhati, Advs.
For Respondents/Defendant: M. Yogesh Khanna, Sujatha Bagadhi, Maha Lakshmi and Nithya, Advs.

Fact of the case
In this case appellant (Kumar)was not interested in his wife and was therefore living separately. Geetah was in sixth standard. Both Geetah and Kumar was living in the same locality. Kumar started liking for Geetha. And therefore proposed for marriage. But Geetha's father(Murugan) did not want as he believed that Kumar can ruin the life of his daughter as he did with his own wife. One day Kumar went Geetah's house and demanded chilli.

As no one was in the house except Geetah, she denied. But Kumar forcefully took chilli from her house and started threatening Geetha that he would kidnap her and would marry her. Same day Kumar and his cousin offered Geetha's father( Murugan) for dinner and drink. Murugan (Geetha's father) accepted and went along with Kumar and his cousin.

When Murugan did not returned even after 11 pm Geetah visited Kumar's house she found that all the three (Kumar, his cousin and Murugan) were sitting in the room and were dining together. She returned back as her father assured her that he would be coming back shortly. When Murugan didn't return till next day. Geetha and her mother went Kumar's house to find his father. When they went they saw the dead body Murugan. An FIR was registered against Kumar and his cousin. During trial Kumar died. The matter was adjudicated against co-accused wherein he was found guilty. And the co-accused guilt was upheld by high court and Supreme Court.[2]

Issue of the case
The following issues were raised:
  • Whether the motive of the co-accused was present in the case or not
  • Whether accused and co-accused knew each other or not
  • Whether both the two did preparation for committing murder or not
  • Whether co-accused was present during the commission of the crime
  • Whether co-accused will be facing the same punishment as main accused will be

Decision of the bench
In the case victim's father was murdered. Police arrested the accused and co-accused. But during trial the main-accused died. Therefore, trial against accused abated whereas it continued against co-accused. To demonstrate the charges, the arraignment analyzed 12 observers, stamped 20 displays and created 15 material items.

In the procedures Under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter alluded to as the Code), the Appellant was approached to clarify the conditions showing up against him yet he denied the charges including the conditions without offering any clarification. On 02.08.2006 additional session judge hold appellant liable and convicted him for the offence punishable under sec 364 and 304 read with sec 34 of Indian Penal Code and awarded life imprisonment under sec 304 of Indian Penal Code.

And seven years Under Section 364 and a fine amount of Rs. 5,000/- and Rs. 1000/- respectively. But co-accused file appeal in High Court. High court further upheld the judgment of subordinate court therefore, accused file the special leave petition in Supreme Court. It is a settled guideline of law that when the Courts beneath have recorded simultaneous discoveries against the Accused individual which depend on due enthusiasm for proof, this Court Under Article 136 of the Constitution of India would be delayed to meddle in such simultaneous discoveries and would not see the value in the didn't either think about the applicable piece of proof or there exists any backwardness or/and silliness in the discoveries recorded by both the Courts underneath and so on. Court to ensure the legal sustainability entertained the case.

Court held that the two Courts below have rightly held that the Appellant's conviction was based on circumstantial evidence which, in this case, the prosecution was able to prove it by adducing evidence.

Court upheld the decision of the two courts below by citing evidences:
  1. motive was against the deceased due to his not consenting to the proposal of marriage of Main Appellant with his daughter
  2. the Appellant and Main Appellant, both being the cousins, knew one another very well
  3. both went together to the house of the deceased to invite him for a dinner at Main Appellant's house;
  4. Fourth, all the three had dinner together at Main Appellant's house
  5. Main Appellant gave his confessed his guilt
  6. recovery of weapon and cloths at the instance of Main Appellant
  7. The dead body was found lying near iron cot where deceased had last dinner with Main Appellant and the Appellant.

A theory of "accused last seen in the company of the deceased" is a strong situation against the accused while appreciating the circumstantial evidence. In such cases, except if the blamed can clarify appropriately the material conditions showing up against him, he can be held liable for commission of offense for which he is charged. For this situation, it was appropriately held by the two Courts beneath against the appealing party and we track down horrible ground to upset this finding.

Critical Analysis
Indian courts are very much stringent in dealing with criminal cases. Courts believe that even though co-accused was not the main accused or did not have actually engaged in the commission of the crime will be held liable as the main accused. As intention to commit a crime also promotes or enhances the field of crime or confidence of the main accused to commit the illegal act. It creates the situation of joint liability. Common intention makes accused to follow the same path of illegality.

Each and every person doesn't matter the role and contribution, if their intention was common as the main-accused to commit a crime will be held equally liable. Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code says that act done by several people in furtherance of common intention of all, each of such person is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.[3]co-accused cannot claim that he was not the main accused.

If co-accused didn't refute to help the main-accused and provide support while committing a crime itself prove that co-accused had also some evil intention and therefore served equally in the crime. Common intention was there is itself sufficient evidence.

This case can be compared with Barendra kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor[4] where court cited that even if co-accused didn't do anything while commiting a crime, he supported main-accused by standing outside the door and kept watching is considered to be a part of the crime and therefore, it establishes a common intention to commit a crime.

This type of judgments not only point out the main-accused but also to the supporters. It is true that there may not be common intention but happened only by chance, but in such a scenario court decides whether intention was there or not on the basis of fact and evidences.[5]Fixing vicarious liability underneath s.34 or s.149 relies upon on their technique followed to provide the crime.

There are two sections dealing with common intention and common object beneath two chapters of IPC General Explanation and Of Offences Against Public Tranquillity respectively. Sometimes there arises difficulty in proving with proof that whether or not they shared commonplace intention or now not. And also what number of humans had been the contributors of Unlawful Assembly with their commonplace object equal.

However, these ambiguities have been removed by means of the Supreme Court in different cases, after figuring out its statistics and scenario of every case. To clear and better knowledge, Law Commission of India also gave many suggestions to Legislature for modification of a few part of the statute.[6]Even after a lot attempt, there get up issues of which regulation might be relevant among the two in a few critical instances, and investigators and rate sheet filers make errors in this regard.

  1. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal -The Indian Penal Code � 33rd Edition
  2. Murugan v.State of Tamil Nadu MANU/SC/0486/2018
  3. By Act 27 of 1870, sec. 1, for section 34.
  4. Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor, AIR 1925 PC 1
  5. Criminal Law: Cases and Materials � Sixth Edition: K D Gaur
  6. Law Commission of India (Forty Second report: Indian Penal Code) 1971.
Written By: Vishwajeet Kumar-3rd Semester National Law University And Judicial Academy Assam

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