Crime & Punishment
Section 141 of the Penal Code defines what is an unlawful assembly. It provides:
An assembly of five or more persons is designated an “unlawful assembly “if the common object of the persons composing that assembly is
1.To overawe by criminal force, or show of criminal force the Government or Legislature, or any public servant in the exercise of the lawful power of such public servant ; or
2. To resist the execution of any law, or of any legal process; or
3. To commit any mischief or criminal trespass, or other offence; or
4. By means of criminal force or show of criminal force, to any person (i) to take or obtain possession of any property, or (ii) to deprive any person of the enjoyment of a right of way, or of the use of water or other incorporeal right of which he is in possession or enjoyment, or (iii) to enforce any right or supposed right; or
5. By means of criminal force, or show of criminal force, (i) to compel any person to do what he is not legally bound to do, or (ii) to omit to do what he is legally entitled to do.
The essence of the offence of unlawful assembly is the common object of the persons forming the assembly.
In the case of Emperor v. Abdul Qadir (1930) Cr.L.J.249 it has been observed that where more than five persons were charged with being members of an unlawful assembly but only four of them were found to have take part in the assembly it was held that none of the accused could be convicted.
Member of an unlawful assembly: Sec 142 provides that Whoever, being aware of facts which render any assembly an unlawful assembly, intentionally joins that assembly, or continues in it, is said to be a member of an unlawful assembly. Punishment: Imprisonment of either description for 6 months or fine or both.( Sec 143)
Liability of a member of an unlawful assembly:
Section 149 of the Penal Code lays down that “ if an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of committing that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.
In the case of Rahman Sardar v. Crown ( 1955) 7 D.L.R.57, it has been observed that the primary basis of constructive charge under section 149 is the existence and membership of an unlawful assembly and the commission of an offence by a member thereof in prosecution of the common object or such as the members knew it to be likely to be committed in prosecution of such object.
In the case of Janab Ali v. State 12 D.L.R 808, it has been held that the phrase 'in prosecution of the common object' in two clauses have different shades of meaning and these words in prosecution of the common object in the first clause must be strictly construed as equivalent to ' in order to attain the common object'. When that is the case, every person, who is engaged in prosecution the same object, may well be held guilty of an offence which fulfills or tends to fulfill the object which he is himself engaged in prosecuting.
And an offence will fall within the second clause if the members of the assembly, for any reason, knew before-hand that it was likely to be committed in the prosecution of the common object, though not knit thereto by the nature of the object itself.
Source: Penal Code by L. Kabir.
-Compiled by Law Desk.