Understaning Common Intention for Vicarious Liability


silhouette photo of six persons on top of mountain
silhouette photo of six persons on top of mountain

The Lahore High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 78896/2019 and connected cases deliberated on the conviction and sentencing of Muhammad Ihsan alias Malkoo and Masood Ahmad alias Bilal. The appellants were involved in a murder case, and the court evaluated the evidence, legal principles, and precedents to determine the appropriateness of their sentences.

Key Areas:

Case Background: The case arose from an FIR registered at Police Station Jhal Chakkian, Sargodha, involving murder charges under Sections 302, 324, 337-F(i), and 34 PPC. The trial court convicted the appellants, sentencing Ihsan to death and Bilal to life imprisonment with compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased.

Evidence and Witness Testimonies: The prosecution presented 13 witnesses, with key testimonies from the complainant and an injured witness who directly implicated the appellants. The medical evidence corroborated the witnesses' accounts of the injuries and cause of death.

Legal Arguments and Common Intention: The court discussed the application of Section 34 PPC (common intention), emphasizing that mere presence at the crime scene does not establish common intention without evidence of a pre-arranged plan. The court referenced Shoukat Ali vs. The State (PLD 2007 SC 93), which clarifies the requirement of a shared intent to constitute common intention.

Acquittal and Sentencing: The court found that the prosecution failed to prove Masood Ahmad's involvement in a common intention to murder. Thus, his conviction was overturned, and he was acquitted. For Muhammad Ihsan, the court upheld his conviction but converted his death sentence to life imprisonment, considering mitigating factors and the principle that in cases of doubt, the lesser sentence should be preferred. This aligns with precedents such as Ghulam Mohy-ud-Din alias Haji Babu vs. The State (2014 SCMR 1034).

Conclusion: The court's decision emphasizes the need for clear evidence of common intention for vicarious liability and the judicial preference for life imprisonment over the death penalty in cases of doubt.

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