Factors for determining the culpability of accused participating in unlawful assembly, explained

Supreme Court: In the case where the culpability of an accused participating in an unlawful assembly was in question, the bench of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ said that the presence of an accused as part of an unlawful assembly, when not as a curious onlooker or a bystander, suggests his participation in the object of the assembly but it could well be that an accused had no intention to participate in the object of the assembly.

Explaining with the help of an example, the Court said that if the object of the assembly is to murder someone, it is possible that the accused as a particular member of the assembly had no knowledge of the intention of the other members whose object was to murder, unless of course the evidence to the contrary shows such knowledge. But having participated and gone along with the others, an inference whether inculpatory or exculpatory can be drawn from the conduct of such an accused.

According to the Court, the point of time at which the accused discovered that the assembly intended to kill the victim, the attempt, if any, made by him/her to stop the assembly from pursuing the object and if he/she dissociate from the assembly by getting away upon failing to stop the assembly, are the issues that will determine whether an accused shared the common object in the assembly. Without evidence that the accused had no knowledge of the unlawful object of the assembly or without evidence that after having gained knowledge, he attempted to prevent the assembly from accomplishing the unlawful object, and without evidence that after having failed to do so, the accused disassociated himself from the assembly, the mere participation of an accused in such an assembly would be inculpatory. [Kattukulangara Madhavan v. Majeed, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 299, decided on 30.03.2017]

 

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