- Ramchander Shelke (the deceased) went to his field, with his wife’s sister Rasika Bai and his servant Subhana Rao.
- Ramehander later went to his other field which is about a furlong away.
- Rasika Bai heard shouts so she and subhana ran to the field where they saw all five accused attacking Ramchander with axes and sticks.
- Rasika Bai shouted out to the assailants not to beat Ramchander but they threatened her and then ran away.
- Ramehander died on the spot almost immediately.
- Whether the court should believe the statement of the eye witnesses?
- Whether there is a distinction between prior concert and common intention under section 34?
Issue 1: In the present case different eye witnesses narrated different stories so it was difficult for the court to choose between the right and wrong. According to eyewitnesses (Rasika and subhana which the court considered), Pandurang, Tukia, and Bhilia were holding axes and the other two accused Tukaram and Nilia had stuck in their hands. The deceased was assaulted and he died on the Spot. The trial court convicted each of the accused of charge S.302 with S. 34 and sentenced to death. Thereafter Appeal was made to the High court and Pandurang, Tukia, Bhilia were convicted as suggested by the trial court but the other two accused person’s sentence was commuted to transportation for life. When the matter came up to the Supreme Court, the learned judge said that each person will be liable for their own act.
According to the provisions of Section 34, It requires a pre-arranged plan and there should be a prior meeting of minds. There is a thin line of difference between ‘Same Intention’ and ‘Common Intention’. For example, a group of people simultaneously attack a man on different body parts, here they have the same intention but none of them have a common Intention. In a case like that, each would be individually liable for whatever injury he caused but none could be vicariously convicted for the act of any of the others.
The Supreme Court Stated that Prior Concert must not always be very much prior to the act but can also be on the spot. All that is necessary, is either to have direct proof of prior concert, or proof of circumstances which necessarily lead to that inference. But in the present case, there is no evidence of any prior meeting, there was no evidence as to what they said or did before the attack – not even immediately before.
The Supreme Court elaborated that in the present case where there is no prior concert, “each would be individually liable for whatever injury he caused but none would be vicariously convicted for the acts of any of the others; if the prosecution cannot prove that his separate blow was a fatal one, he cannot be convicted of the murder, however clearly an intention to kill could be proved in this case.”
Therefore the Supreme Court set aside the death sentence of Pandurang under section 302 and convicted him instead under S.326 of the penal code, and was sentenced for 10 years rigorous imprisonment. The Supreme Court altered the sentence of Tukia and Bhilia from Sentence of death to that of transportation for life because the Supreme court was of the opinion that for awarding death sentence the judges must have a concur opinion and there should not be any difference in opinion.