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Report No. 156

Clause 13

12.08. By virtue of this clause the words "several persons" wherever they occur are sought to be substituted by the words "two or more persons". A perusal of some of the judgments would show that the courts felt that there is some ambiguity in the language of the section, particularly in respect of the meaning to be given to the expression "several persons" Section 34 embodies the principle of constructive liability in the doing of a criminal act, the essence of that liability being the existence of a common intention.

Section 34 explains that when a criminal act is jointly done by several persons who are actuated by common intention, in furtherance of that intention each of them is liable for it as if the whole of it had been done by him alone. Starting from Baredra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor, AIR 1925 PC 1 until now there have been a number of judgments rendered by the courts about the scope of section 34.

The expression "several persons" has been examined with reference to the question whether two persons should at least be there as participants for section 34 and whether a single known offender can be convicted by application of section 34 if the facts show that he along with one unknown offender at least must have committed the offence.

The Law Commission with a view to see that this ambiguity is not there recommended in its 42nd Report the substitution of the words "two or more persons" for the words "several persons" which expression is rather wide and vague. By carrying out this amendment the language of section 34 becomes more explicit. For the same reason the expression "several persons" occurring in sections 35 and 38 also can be substituted by the expression "two or more persons".

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