Physical participation in the crime is not necessary for an accused facing “common intention” charges to be convicted in murder cases, the Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench observed on Tuesday while convicting a labourer from Bhandara district. Virendra Fule, 32, was accused of carrying a sword, which his two accomplices later used to kill a woman in 2008.
“Accused no.3 [Fule] did not commit any overt act during the assault, but the evidence on record is sufficient to hold that he shared the common intention with the other two accused,” said the bench of justices ZA Haq and Amit Borkar while setting aside Fule’s acquittal.
In January 2016, an additional sessions’ judge at Bhandara convicted Fule’s accomplices for the murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The trial court acquitted Fule saying no overt act was attributed to him. He merely waited outside the slain woman’s house with the sword, it added.
The high court held the trial court was unjustified in acquitting Fule. It added Fule was at the crime scene with the other two convicts, carrying a sword.
“It appears that the accused no.3 was standing at veranda as a cover to accused nos.1 and 2, which proves that he shared a common intention with the other accused [to kill the woman]),” the high court said. “Therefore, the accused no.3 is also liable to be convicted…as the prosecution has proved common intention of all the accused.”
The high court sentenced Fule to life imprisonment and directed him to surrender before the trial court by January 15.