When the charge is under Sec 149 IPC, the presence of accused as part of unlawful assembly itself is sufficient for conviction: Supreme Court upholds conviction of 3 in murder case
Justices Pankaj Mithal & Abhay S Oka [08-07-2024]




LE Correspondent


New Delhi, July 9, 2024: The Supreme Court has dismissed the criminal appeals filed by three men convicted for murder, holding that their presence with the other co-accused amounted to an unlawful assembly which is sufficient for conviction, even if they may have not actively participated in the commission of the crime.


“It goes without saying that when the charge is under Section 149, the presence of the accused as part of the unlawful assembly itself is sufficient for conviction,”  observed a bench comprising Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Abhay S Oka, citing the apex court’s 2002 ruling in Yunis @ Kariya & Another v. State of Madhya Pradesh. The top court thuis upheld their upholding their conviction for offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 302 read with 149, and 307 read with 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).


The case relates to a group assault conducted by the accused persons with deadly weapons, resulting in the death of Mohan Mungase and injuries to his brother Nandkumar Mungase and one Maruti Nakate.


The incident took place on February 6, 1999, at the house of Mama Bhojane in Village Borale, Maharashtra. The Trial Court had convicted six accused persons, including the three appellants, while acquitting two others. The High Court of Bombay dismissed the criminal appeals, confirming the judgment of the Trial Court.


The Supreme Court heard the appeals challenging the conviction, particularly on the ground that there was no active participation of the appellants Suresh Dattu Bhojane and Anna @Anil Maruti Bhojane, and that their mere presence would not warrant the application of Section 149 of the IPC.


However, the court observed that the presence of the accused persons at the scene of the crime, along with other accused, was duly established. The eye-witness accounts proved that they were part of the unlawful assembly with a common object to kill Mohan Mungase and his brother Nandkumar Mungase. The top court noted that the accused had a clear motive, as the country liquor shop previously managed by one of the accused was subsequently entrusted to the deceased and his brother by the owner, Mama Bhojane. The assembly of the accused persons in Mama Bhojane's house with deadly weapons was apparently to settle the score arising from this issue.


The Supreme Court held that the presence of the accused as part of the unlawful assembly itself is sufficient for conviction under Section 149 of the IPC, even if they may not have actively participated in committing the murder. The court, however, held that all three petitioners-accused had played active roles in committing the crimes as proven by the prosecution.  

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