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The concepts of “common object” and ” common intention” are relevant when it comes to establishing the rule of constructive liability.
COMMON INTENTION :
Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) deals with the concept of “common intention” in criminal law. It states that when a criminal act is committed by several individuals in furtherance of a common intention, each of those individuals is liable for that act as if it were done by them individually.
According to Section 34, common intention implies a pre-arranged plan or understanding between two or more individuals to commit a criminal act. It is not necessary for each participant to have actively participated in the actual commission of the offense. Instead, as long as they shared a common intention to commit the offense and acted in furtherance of that intention, they can be held liable.
The key elements to establish common intention under Section 34 are:
- Existence of a common intention: There must be a prior agreement or understanding between the individuals involved to commit a criminal act. The intention must be shared by all participants and can be inferred from their conduct and actions.
- Participation in the act: Even if not actively involved in committing the offense, each participant should have contributed in some way towards the execution of the common intention. This can include providing assistance, aiding, or abetting the main perpetrator.
- Criminal act done in furtherance of the common intention: The offense committed should be a result of the collective action or conduct of the individuals with the shared intention.
Section 34 ensures that all individuals who share a common intention to commit a criminal act are held equally responsible, irrespective of their individual roles or specific acts. This provision helps prevent individuals from escaping liability by claiming limited participation or non-involvement in the actual commission of the offense.
It is important to note that Section 34 is often invoked in conjunction with other specific sections of the PPC to establish joint liability for offenses such as murder, rioting, and unlawful assembly. The application and interpretation of Section 34 in a particular case may vary based on the facts, circumstances, and evidence presented.
Examples of Common Intention:
Here are a few examples to illustrate the application of Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code:
- A group of individuals plans and executes a robbery. While one person physically carries out the act of stealing, others stand guard or keep watch outside. Under Section 34, all participants can be held liable for the robbery, as they acted in furtherance of the common intention to commit the offense.
- In a case of murder, if multiple individuals actively participate in the killing of a person, either by inflicting fatal injuries or aiding and abetting the act, they can be held liable for murder under Section 34. Their common intention to cause the death of the victim establishes joint liability for the offense.
- A group of people engages in a violent confrontation resulting in the death of an individual. Even if it cannot be established which specific person caused the fatal injury, if it can be proven that they acted with a common intention to commit an unlawful act that resulted in the death, they can be held collectively liable for the offense of murder under Section 34.
- During a riot, several individuals participate in acts of violence, such as damaging property or assaulting others. If it can be shown that they shared a common intention to commit the acts of violence and actively participated in furtherance of that intention, they can be held jointly liable for the offense of rioting under Section 34.
Section 149 of the PPC deals with the liability of members of an unlawful assembly for offenses committed in prosecution of a common object. The essential elements of Section 149 are as follows:
- Unlawful assembly:
The first essential element is the existence of an assembly of five or more persons. The assembly is considered unlawful when its common object is to commit a crime or to engage in conduct that threatens public peace, property, or public order.
- Common object:
The assembly must have a common object. The common object refers to the shared purpose or objective of the assembly members. It can be inferred from the conduct, actions, and behaviour of the individuals comprising the assembly. The common object can be to commit a crime, engage in violence, cause harm, or disturb public peace.
- Offenses committed:
The members of the unlawful assembly must have committed offenses in prosecution of the common object. Under Section 149, every member of the assembly is held liable for the commission of the offense by any other member of the assembly if it was done in furtherance of the common object. Each member is deemed to have intended the probable consequences of the unlawful assembly’s actions.
Examples of Common Object:
Here are a few examples to illustrate the application of Section 149:
Rioting (Section 147):
If an assembly of five or more persons engages in rioting, where the common object is to commit violence, cause public disturbance, or damage property, all members of the assembly can be held liable for the offense of rioting under Section 149. Each member is deemed to have intended the consequences of the violent acts committed by any other member of the assembly.
Unlawful assembly causing hurt (Section 323):
If an unlawful assembly assembles with a common object to cause hurt to any person, and members of the assembly commit acts of physical violence resulting in hurt, all members of the assembly can be held liable for the offense of causing hurt under Section 323.
Unlawful assembly causing grievous hurt (Section 325):
Similar to the previous example, if an unlawful assembly gathers with a common object to cause grievous hurt to any person, and members of the assembly commit acts resulting in grievous hurt, all members of the assembly can be held liable for the offense of causing grievous hurt under Section 325.
Unlawful assembly armed with a deadly weapon (Section 144):
If an assembly of five or more persons, armed with deadly weapons, unlawfully assembles with a common object to commit any offense, the members of the assembly can be held liable under Section 144. The presence of deadly weapons enhances the seriousness of the offense.
Proof of Common Intention and Common Object:
Proving common intention and common object requires a careful examination of the facts, circumstances, and evidence in a case. While the exact methods of proof may vary depending on the specific situation, here are some general approaches to establish common intention and common object:
Direct evidence can include eyewitness testimonies, confessions, or statements by the participants themselves or other individuals who witnessed the planning or execution of the criminal act. Such evidence may explicitly demonstrate the existence of a common intention or the shared objective of the group.
In many cases, common intention and common object can be inferred from circumstantial evidence. This can include the conduct, behaviour, and actions of the individuals involved. The court can evaluate the sequence of events, the roles played by each person, and their collective behaviour to draw conclusions about their shared intention or objective.
Pre-planning and conspiracy:
If there is evidence of pre-planning, meetings, or discussions among the participants that indicate a joint resolve to commit the offense, it can support the existence of common intention or common object. This can include evidence such as phone records, text messages, emails, or surveillance footage.
Actus reus and mens rea:
Proving the actus reus (the physical act) and the mens rea (the mental state) of the participants can contribute to establishing common intention or common object. It involves demonstrating that the participants actively engaged in the criminal act or provided support, and that they possessed the requisite mental state, such as knowledge or intention to commit the offense.
Additional factors such as the presence of weapons, coordination among the participants, their conduct during the commission of the offense, and any prior relationship or association between the individuals can be considered to infer common intention or common object.
It is important to note that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and they must establish the presence of common intention or common object beyond a reasonable doubt. The court will assess the totality of the evidence presented and make a determination based on the available information.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMMON INTENTION AND COMMON OBJECT
Here’s a comparison highlighting the differences between common intention (Section 34) and common object (Section 149) of the Pakistan Penal Code:
|Nature||Common Intention||Common Object|
|Definition and Scope||Section 34 of the PPC deals with joint liability for acts done in furtherance of a common intention. It establishes that when a criminal act is committed by several persons with a common intention, each person is liable for the act as if done individually.||Section 149 of the PPC deals with the liability of members of an unlawful assembly for offenses committed in prosecution of a common object. It establishes that if an offense is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly, each member can be held liable for that offense.|
|Application and Purpose||Section 34 is applicable when individuals act together with a shared intention to commit a criminal act. It ensures that all participants are held equally responsible, irrespective of their individual roles or specific acts.||Section 149 applies to unlawful assemblies where five or more individuals gather with a common object. It holds all members of the assembly responsible for the offenses committed by any member in furtherance of the common object.|
|Liability||Every participant is individually liable for the entire act committed by the group. Each person is deemed to have intended the consequences of the collective act, regardless of their individual role or specific act.||Section 149 establishes joint liability of the members of an unlawful assembly. Each member is held liable for the offense committed by any other member of the assembly if it was done in prosecution of the common object.|
|Proof||Proving common intention requires evidence of a pre-arranged plan or understanding between the participants to commit the offense. It can be proven through direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, and the conduct, behaviour, and actions of the individuals involved.||Proving common object involves establishing the existence of an unlawful assembly of five or more persons with a shared purpose or objective. It can be proven through direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, pre-planning, actus reus, mens rea, and surrounding circumstances.|
In summary, while both common intention (Section 34) and common object (Section 149) deal with shared criminal conduct, they differ in their scope, application, liability, and the manner in which they are proved. Section 34 focuses on joint liability for acts done in furtherance of a common intention, while Section 149 holds members of an unlawful assembly liable for offenses committed in pursuit of a common object.