Common Intention And Common Object
Q. Define and explain common intention and common object. Is there any difference between the two. If so, explain. (1999) (2000) (2001) (2003) (2004/A) (2005/A) (2006/A)
1. Introduction:
Section 34 and section 149 0f P.P.C embodies the rule of constructive liability which means that a person is liable for the consequences of an act of another person. But sec. 34 and sec. 149 should not be mixed up together. The rule of common intention in sec. 34 and common object in sec. 149 are not synonymous in any way and they have got their distinguishable features.
2. Relevant Provisions:
Following are the relevant provisions of P.P.C regarding the concerned topic.
Section 34 for common intention
Section 149 for common object.
3. Common Intention:
(i) Meaning:
common intention within the meaning of section 34 implies a pre-arranged plan. (NLR 1980 criminal 517)
(ii) Common Intention U/ SEC 34:
When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the 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.

  1. Ingredients Of SEC. 34:

Following are the ingredients of sec. 34.
(i) Criminal Act:
There must be some criminal act to invoke sec. 34 criminal act is one which is prohibited by law and is carried out in violation of the limits prescribed by law. The act contemplated by sec. 34 is some physical act and merely a mental act.
(ii) By Several Persons:
The criminal act must be done by several persons. It means that sec. 34 will apply only is cases where the accused is more than one.
(iii) In Furtherance Of Common Intention:
It is necessary that the act done by several persons should be in furtherance of common intention of all the persons involved. It may be develop even at the spur of the moment or during the commission of an offence. If it is prove that what the several accused did are clearly individual acts done of their own accord rather than acts done in furtherance of a prearranged plan or arrangement, the liability of each and not under section 34 P.P.C.
(IV) Scope Of Sec.34:
Section 34 of the P.P.C is intended to meet a case in which it may be difficult to distinguish between the acts of individual members of a party who act in furtherance of the common intention of all. It dose not create a distinct offence but merely enunciates a principal of joint liability for act dene in furtherance of common intention of the offenders.(PLD 1983S. C35)
(V) Proof Of Common Intention:
Strict proof of common intention of concerned persons is normally not possible but the same can be conveniently gathered from set of circumstances brought forth in every case(1998SCMR2146)
4. Common Object U/Sec 149:
If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence is a member of the same assembly is guilty of that offence.

  1. Ingredients Of Sec149:

(i) Offence is committed:
The word offence is defined in sect 40 of P.P.C as a thing made punishable by P.P.C. To invoke Sec 149, an offence has to be committed.
(ii) Unlawful Assembly:
According to section 141 P.P.C an assembly of five or more persons is designated an unlawful assembly, if the common object of the persons composing that assembly is unlawful.
(iii) Membership of Unlawful Assembly:
To invoke the provision of sec. 149 membership of unlawful assembly is necessary. Proof of specifics overt act on the part of every member is not necessary. It is sufficient to prove that the accused persons shared the common object of the unlawful assembly.
(iv) In Prosecution Of Common Object:
Some offence must be Committed by any member of unlawful assembly in prosecution of common object of that assembly. The common objects of the unlawful assembly has to be inferred from the membership, the weapons used and the nature of injuries as well as other surrounding circumstances.
(v) Knowledge of likelihood of offence being committed:
The member of unlawful assembly are also liable where the offence was such as the members of the assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object.
(II) Scope Of Section 149:
Section 149 P.P.C deals with the constructive liability of members of an unlawful assembly for the offence have been committed by one of the members of the assembly. Sec. 149 is merely an enabling provision and not provide a substantive offence.
(III) Proof of Section 149:
Prosecution must prove presence and participation of each of the accused in unlawful assembly for conviction u/sec 149 P.P.C (1994 SCMR 588)
5. Distinction Between Common Intention And Common Object:
Following are the differences between section 34 and sec. 149.
(I) Number Of Persons:
Sec.34 may apply to a case where the culprits are more than one.
Sec.149 can apply only to cases in which culprits are five or more.
(II) Meeting Of Mind:
Sec. 34 requires a pre-concert or meeting of mind.
Sec.149 will apply even if there was no prior meeting of mind.
(III) Participation:
Element of participation in action in necessary to constitute common intention.
In Sec. 149 only membership of unlawful assembly at the time of occurrence of offence is sufficient.
(Iv) As To Offence:
Section 34 expounds a doctrine of criminal liability and every criminal act in furtherance of common intention is made liable.
Section 149 applies to an offence committed by any member of an unlawful assembly whose common object is one mentioned in Sec 141, P.P.C.

(vi) Presence Of Accused:
In Sec 34, all the accused must be present on the spot. In sec 149, it is not necessary that all the accused must be present at the time of the commission of the offence.
(VI) Development:
Common intention can be developed even at the spur of the moment. common object cannot develop at the spur of the moment.
(VII) As To Act Done:
Sec. 34 will apply where the common intention is to do an act which was done.
Sec. 149 will apply even if there was no common intention to do the act but it was done in furtherance of the common object of the unlawful assembly.
6. Conclusion:
To conclude, I can say that both section 34 and 149 P.P.C . making a person vicariously liable for the acts of his companions. Both section 34 and 149 cannot always be proved by direct evidence facts and circumstances of the case.