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The mere fact that the appellant was not brave enough to conceal where the victim was hiding did not make him a part of the unlawful assembly: Supreme Court Of India

The possibility of often people gathering at the scene of offence out of curiosity but that did not make them share the common object of the assembly. The Court must guard against the possibility of convicting mere passive onlookers who did not share the common object of the unlawful assembly. There must be reasonable direct or indirect circumstances that lend assurance to the prosecution case that they shared a common object of the unlawful assembly. Not only should the members be part of the unlawful assembly but should share the common object at all stages. Such an observation was made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court Of India before Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul &  Hon’ble Justice M.M. Sundresh in the matter of TAIJUDDIN vs State of Assam & ors [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO._1526__ of 2021] on 01.12.2021.

The facts of the matter were that on the basis of a land dispute the life of one Abdul Wahab (“the victim”) was taken by a mod armed with deadly weapons. When the mob approached the victim’s house the victim tried to run and take shelter in the house of one Shorab but the appellate directed and told them the whereabouts of the victim & consequently he was murdered and thrown in the Brahmaputra river.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the testimony of the PW-8 was not read correctly and PW-8 wasn’t an eye-witness to the crime and only narrating what he had heard from other people as confessed by him during cross-examination.

Additionally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court put reliance on the case of Subal Ghorai v. State of West Bengal (2013) 4 SCC 607 wherein it was held that constructive liability cannot be stretched to lead to the false implication of innocent bystanders. The Hon’ble Supreme Court also referred to the case of Ranjit Singh v. the State of Punjab and Ors (2013) 16 SCC 752 wherein the court held that “the aspect of a faction-ridden village community has a tendency to implicate innocents along with the guilty especially when a large number of assailants are involved in the commission of the offense – which is a matter of common knowledge. The depositions have to be carefully scrutinised in such a scenario.

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed “On the touchstone of the aforesaid judgments, taking into consideration the inconsistency in the testimonies – inasmuch as the family members never even pointed a finger at the appellant as also some of the other witnesses, while the witnesses who did point a finger only assigned the role of pointing out the place where the victim was hiding, coupled with his natural presence at the site, we cannot, thus, say that by any stretch of the imagination the case against the appellant has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt or for that matter really no case seems to have been proved against the appellant given the role assigned to him in the testimony of the witnesses. In our view, the appellant is entitled to a clean acquittal in the given facts.

Finally, Hon’ble Supreme Court quashed the charges framed under Section 147/148/302/201/149 of IPC, 1872 and acquitted the appellate.

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Judgment Reviewed by: Rohan Kumar Thakur

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