Member of an Unlawful Assembly; 4 Important Supreme Court Judgments

In the case of Sarwan Singh and others Vs. The State of Punjab, AIR 1978 SC 1525, it has been held that in order to find out the person guilty of offence under section 302 read with section 149 IPC, the prosecution is required to establish that the offence was committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object or knowledge of the assembly or such act as a member of the assembly knew to be likely to be committed in furtherance of the common object or knowledge.

The cumulative effect of the injuries are of relevant nature which are found to have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death where the common object or knowledge of the unlawful assembly was to commit an offence under section 302 IPC.

Member of an Unlawful Assembly

Further, in the case of Lalji and others Vs. State of U.P., (1989) 1 SCC 437, the Hon’ble Apex Court while interpreting the provision as contained under section 149 IPC ruled that a member of an unlawful assembly is responsible as a principal for the acts of each and all the members being a member of an unlawful assembly and knew it to be likely to be committed.

The foundation of such constructive guilt under section 149 IPC of the member of the unlawful assembly is with requisite common object or knowledge.

Therefore, mere presence of a member of the unlawful assembly even in the absence of any overt act or active participation in furtherance of the common object of commission of crime, the person being member of such unlawful assembly shall be vicariously liable for the criminal act under section 149 IPC.

The aforesaid judgments have been followed recently; in the cases of Ramesh and others Vs. State of Haryana, (2010) 13 SCC 409 and Subal Ghorai and others Vs. State of West Bengal (2013) 4 SCC 607.