Citations: Umesh Singh & Anr vs State of Bihar 2000 6 SCC 89

Date of Judgement: 10/05/2000

Equivalent citations:  2000 6 SCC 89

Case No.: Criminal Appeal Nos. 824-825 of 1998 with Criminal Appeal No. 659 of 1999

Case Type: Criminal Appeal

Petitioner/Appellant: Umesh Singh & Anr.

Defendant/Respondent: State of Bihar

Bench: Hon’ble Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Hon’ble Justice S.R.Babu

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred:

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 148, 149, 302, 324
  • Arms Act, 1959; Section 27

Cases referred:

  • Pradeep Kumar Vs State of U.P., 1995 Supp(4) SCC 419
  • Bhoop Ram Vs State of U.P. 1989(3) SCC 1
  • Bhola Bhagat Vs State of Bihar, 1997(8) SCC 720
  • Gopinath Ghosh Vs State of West Bengal, 1984 Supp. SCC 228 
  • Bhajan Singh & Ors. Vs State of U.P., 1974(3) SCR 891
  •  Shamshul Kanwar Vs State of U.P., 1995 (4) SCC 430 


  • According to a report on a Prosecution Witness named Jugeshwar Singh, it was noted that around 20 people forcefully came into Bhola Singh’s paddy land and started to take away paddy. One of the Appellants, Upendra Singh threatened for death if any resistance was made by any member on the field and he blew a fire shot over Bhola Singh who was hit by a lathi by Rajendra Singh.
  • Saryu Singh was shot at by Rajendra Singh and Bhagwat Dayal Singh after Arvind Singh’s bhala blow. Sheonandan Singh snatched a child aged about one and half years old from Bhola’s wife and threw the child on the ground because of which the child died. After police investigation, FIR was submitted.
  • The trial court found Sheonandan Singh and Upendra Singh guilty of violating Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced them to death; one of the accused, Satyendra Singh, was acquitted, and the rest of the accused were found guilty of violating Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to life in prison. They were also found guilty under Sections 324 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as Section 27 of the Arms Act.
  •  On appeal to the High Court, the conviction was upheld, but the death sentences of Sheonandan Singh and Upendra Singh were commuted to life imprisonment.


  • Whether Appellant Arvind Singh would be liable with the other accused considering his age at the time of the commission of the offence?
  • Whether knowledge maybe reasonably attributed to the liability of other men during the occurrence of the impugned act?

Contention of the Appellant:

  • The two lower courts confined themselves to the probabilities of the witnesses arising even if the evidence presented to the lower courts on the basis of the acts attributed to the appellants was accepted.
  • While Rajendra used a lathi to kill Bhola Singh, he could not have intended for him to die, and the act ascribed to Umesh Singh is that he fired at Rajdeo Singh, and no doctor has been interviewed in relation to the injuries inflicted on Rajdeo Singh until after the post-mortem investigation.
  • The common goal was merely to remove rice from the threshing floor, not that it should be one that resulted in injury, much less death, to anybody.
  • The medical evidence presented in this respect is likewise insufficient to support the prosecution’s case on the way in which the incident occurred.
  • Despite the fact that the appellant (Arvind Singh) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident and was a child for the purposes of the Bihar Minors Act, 1970, his trial was held among other defendants who were not children.


The Appeal was Dismissed.

The court concluded that in the present case, the appellants were members of an unlawful assembly armed with lathis and guns, and a declaration had been made that if there was any resistance to taking away the paddy, which is claimed to have been the original object, they were willing to take the deceased’s life and take the paddy.

The conviction of the Appellant Arvind Singh was set aside and he was set free by the court as the learned counsel proved that at the time of the commission of the crime, Arvind Singh was just 13 years old.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • The evidence accumulated shows that the injuries sustained by Bhola were confirmed by the doctors in the dissection and so the court believes that views by High Court and Trial Court are identical and cannot be challenged through it.
  • In various cases, it had been contended by the court that the extends to members of the illegal assembly solely in relation to actions done in furtherance of the unlawful assembly’s common object or offences that the members of the unlawful assembly are likely to commit in carrying out that common goal.
  • An accused who is charged under Section 149 of Indian Penal Code cannot claim that he did not commit the offence committed in the prosecution of the illegal assembly’s common object or that the members of the assembly knew was likely to be committed in the prosecution of that object with his own hand.
  • The other members’ culpability for the offence committed during the course of the occurrence is determined by whether the other members knew beforehand that the offence was likely to be committed in furtherance of the common object.
  • It is not always required for all members of an unlawful assembly to engage in any overt conduct. The prosecution is not required to establish which precise overt conduct was committed by which of the accused when they had gathered together, equipped with firearms and lathis, and were party to the assault on the dead and others.
  • Indeed, a careful examination of the provisions of Section 149 of Indian Penal Code reveals that it removes an accused from the realm of abetment and renders him liable as a principal for the conduct of all others just because he is a member of an unlawful assembly.


The Apex Court dismissed the contentions of the Learned Counsel on the behalf of the Appellant on the liability of other members and the punishment awarded to them by the Trial Court and the High Court stating that the nature of the assemblage, armaments, or behaviour at or before the scene of action can fairly be expected to provide such knowledge which is knowledge of conducting the impugned act.

In case of Arvind Singh, the Supreme Court of India decided to set him free if he is not required in any other case and his appeal was successful to the degree stated above.

Drafted by: Sachika Vij, Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider

Published On: October 29, 2021 at 13:17 IST

Related Post