Basics of Liability

Before we start our topic (Common intention and common object) we should understand the basics of Liability i.e.

LIABILITY– when a person is individually liable for his act like if A murders B then A is Liable for his act.

JOINTLY LIABILITY– when two or more person commits the same offence with the common intention is called Joint liability. Like A and B murders C, A and B are jointly liable for the offence.

CONSTRUCTIVE LIABILITY– this somehow related with the joint liability, but when an act is committed by one person, with the help of a second person then it is called Constructive liability like- A commits murder and B stands on the door to provide security to A, although crime commits by only A B is also liable for helping, this is called Constructive Liability.

VICARIOUS LIABILITY– when the owner is liable for the actions of his servant, it is called vicarious liability.


Firstly, we individually understand the meaning of both the points then we go on to our main topic i.e. The difference between common intention and the common objective, so COMMON INTENTION- although the word common intention isn’t defined anywhere in the Indian Penal Code 1860, Sec. 34 of the IPC states that:-


When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.

Section 34, of the IPC, lay down the principle of joint liability in the doing of the criminal act, the basic part of that liability is to be found in the existence of the common intention. This section is only a rule of evidence and doesn’t create a substantive offence. This sec. lay down the principle of constructive liability.

Suppose, person A, B, C, D murders Z although A and B provide security, C provides weapons and D murders Z so here all 4 Persons are liable for the act as per the provision of Sec. 34 of IPC. Criminal law discourages group activity.


(Postmaster case) Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor, AIR 1925 PC 1. Is the landmark case of common intention, in this case, Barendra Kumar Ghosh with 3 other members went for post office robbery and demanded money, In the meantime, they open their firearms, killed the postmaster and start running but somehow Barendra Kumar Ghosh was caught with the gun in his hand and handover to the police.

Later on, he was tried with sec. 302/34 of the IPC, the session court and the High Court passed the death sentence. The accused denied his charge on the ground that he was simply standing outside the door and had not fired the deceased.

In Virendra Singh v. the State of MP, the Honourable Supreme Court held that the physical presence of the person should be an essence of this section either person commits an offence or simply standing the door.

In Shankar Lal v. State of Gujarat AIR 1965 SC 1260, in this case, the accused with his members plan to murder a person, but a guard was sitting before the house of that person, so to kill that person, one person from the accused side kill the guard this also comes under the common intention. As the act is done in furtherance of the decided act.

The pre-arranged plan is the essence of this common intention, Mahbub Shah v. King- Emperor AIR 1945 PC 148. But the pre-arranged plan may develop on spot between persons like in Dev Cyrus Colabawala v. the State of Maharashtra, in this case, it was held in Gang rape the intention doesn’t need to exist from the beginning.

A similar intention is not a common intention. To constitute the common intention the intention of each one of them must be known and share by them, but when the same intention isn’t to share with others it becomes the same intention and every person shall be individually liable of its offence rather than equally liable in case of common intention. Pandurang V. state of Hyderabad AIR 1955 SC 216.


  • There must be several people.
  • The common intention between them.
  • All the person should have participated.
  • The burden of proof shall lie on the prosecution.


Chapter VIII of the IPC deals with the offence against public tranquillity. Which state from sec. 141-160. Sec. 149 of the IPC deals with the Common object as,

If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in the prosecution of the common object of the assembly or such as the member 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.

The Supreme Court has held that this section doesn’t create a separate offence but only declares the Vicarious Liability of all the members of the unlawful assembly.


There must be an unlawful assembly.
The act should be done by the members of the unlawful assembly.

this is the perfect example of a Common object
Unlawful assembly defines from sec. 141-145, the offence of an unlawful assembly is classified under the following groups,

Being a member of an unlawful assembly (sec. 141,142, 143)
Joining an unlawful assembly armed with a deathly weapon (sec.144)
Joining and continuing in an unlawful assembly know it has been commanded (sec.145)
Sec. 141 defines as the meaning of an unlawful assembly: – the assembly of 5 or more persons is designated an “unlawful assembly”.

If the common objective of the persons composing that assembly is-

Firstly: – To overawe by criminal force, or show of criminal force, 1[the Central or any State Government or Parliament or the Legis­lature of any State], or any public servant in the exercise of the lawful power of such public servant; or

Second: – To resist the execution of any law, or any legal process; or

Third: – To commit any mischief or criminal trespass, or other offence; or

Fourth: – Utilizing criminal force, or show of criminal force, to any person, to take or obtain possession of any property, or to deprive any person of the enjoyment of a right of way, or of the use of water or another incorporeal right of which he is in possession or enjoyment, or to enforce any right or supposed right; or

Fifth: – Using criminal force, or show of criminal force, to compel any person to do what he is not legally bound to do or to omit to do what he is legally entitled to do…

An assembly is a company of people which assembles at a particular place and for a common purpose, and if they perform any unlawful activity which is mention above then this assembly becomes an unlawful assembly.


Every assembly is not an unlawful assembly until and unless the following things are satisfied:-

Assembly of five or more people.
There must be a common objective of an assembly.
The object must be of fives clauses of sec.141.
If a person aware of the facts of the assembly an unlawful assembly, intentionally joins or continues, that person is said to be a member of the unlawful assembly as per the provision of sec. 142 of the IPC and member shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for the term which may be extended to six months or with fine or with both as per sec. 143 of the IPC.

If a person armed with a deathly weapon or anything which likely to cause death shall be punished with imprisonment either description for a term which may be extended to two years or with fine or with both as per sec. 144 of IPC.

The Constitution Bench in Mohan Singh Case AIR 1963 SC 174, it was held that the assembly of 5 or more person constitute an assembly that an unlawful assembly is born.



MeaningCommon Intention implies a meeting of mind of the persons charged with the crime, requiring a preliminary unity.Common Object refers to a purpose that is shared by all the members of an unlawful assembly.
Prior agreement and consensusRequired before the crime takes place.Not required before the crime takes place.
Pre-arranged planThe criminal act is the result of a pre-arranged plan.The criminal act is not the result of a pre-arranged plan.
Number of personsTwo or moreFive or more
Substantive offenceIt sets out the principles of constructive liability without the creation of any substantive offence.It creates a specific substantive offence.
LiabilityAll the persons involved in committing the crime are equally liable.All the persons involved in committing the crime may or may not be equally liable.


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