The concept of abetment widens the horizons of criminal law to incorporate these criminal intentions and penalize them even when the person who bought the knife did not kill anyone but handed it over to someone else to do it. To explain the concept of abetment, the word ‘abet’ should be given deep scrutiny. In general use, it means to aid, advance, assist, help and promote.
In the case of Sanju v. State of Madhya Pradesh,the honorable Supreme court defined ‘abet’ as meaning to aid, to assist or to give aid, to command, to procure, or to counsel, to countenance, to encourage, or encourage or to set another one to commit. The definition of ‘abet’ as laid down, makes it clear that abetment only occurs when there are at least two people involved, which further directs us towards the arrangement and operation of the Act.
Meaning of abetment
In common parlance, the word ‘abet‘ signifies help, co-activity, and support and incorporates within its ambit, an illegitimate reason to commit the crime. To bring an individual abetting the doing of a thing under any of the conditions specified under sec 107 of Indian penal code it isn’t just important to demonstrate that the individual who has abetted has participated in the means of the transactions yet additionally has been associated with those means of the transaction which are criminal.
Abetment under the Indian Penal Code
Abetment is constituted by:
Instigating a person to commit an Offence; or
Engaging in a conspiracy to commit it; or
Intentionally aiding a person to commit it.
Elements of abetment
The offense of abetment depends upon the intention of the person who abets, and not upon the act which is done by the person who he abets.
For the first two clauses of this section, it is immaterial whether the person instigated commits the offense or not or the persons conspiring together actually carry out the object of the conspiracy. It is only in the case of a person abetting an offense by intentionally aiding the other to commit that offense that the charge of abetment against him would be expected to fail when the person alleged to have committed the offense is acquitted of that offense.
The court noted that in faguna Kanta Nath vs state of Assam the appellant was tried for an offense under Section 165 A for having abetted the commission of an offense by an officer, who was acquitted, and it was held that the appellant’s conviction for abetment was also not maintainable. But subsequently, in Jamuna Singh v. the State of Bihar, it was considered not desirable to hold that an abettor cannot be punished if the person committing the offense is acquitted. The court said that the abettor’s guilt depends upon the nature of the offense abetted and the manner of abetment. It is only in cases of intentional aiding that the abettor would have to be acquitted with the principal offender. Following this state of the ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the acquittal of the single abettor when the main offender as also all other abettors already stood acquitted.
The Supreme Court has reiterated that before anybody can be punished for abetment of suicide; it must be proved that the death in question was a suicidal death. The Supreme Court held that the offense of abetment is separate and independent. Where the offense is committed in consequence of the abetment but there is no provision for punishment of such abetment, the abettor is to be punished along with the offender for the original offense.
The rationale of punishing those involved in an Abetment
A threat by a group of criminals is greater than a threat by a single person. If we dive deeper into this scenario, we can make out why a team or a gang of criminals is more likely to succeed than a single criminal. First off, a single person committing a crime would be limited in terms of execution of the crime as he would not be able to foresee everything beforehand. He would try to act around his plan which will proceed with a very narrow-sighted execution.
As opposed to a single perpetrator, imagine how many possibilities a gang of criminals might open. Each one could think of his/her idea and all of them in conjunction could come up with a foolproof plan. Also, an aspect that may be grossly overlooked is the encouragement side of the crime. When someone is acting all by himself, there is little he can do to uplift his encouragement but when a bunch of people is on a mission together, losing motivation will be a rare sight.
Types of Abetment
‘Conspiracy’ consists of the agreement of two or more persons to do an unlawful act or to do a lawful act by unlawful means. So long as such design rests in intention only, it is not indictable. When two carry it into effect, the very plot is an act itself, and the act of each of the parties, promise against promise, capable of being enforced, if lawful, is punishable if for a criminal object or the use of criminal means. The abettor doesn’t need to concert the offense with the person who commits it. It is sufficient if he engages in the conspiracy in pursuance of which the offense is committed. Where parties concert together and have a common object, the act of one of the parties, done in furtherance of the common object and pursuance of the concerted plan, is the act of all.
By illegal omission
The definition of abetment as given in Section 107 of the Penal Code not only includes instigation but also intentional aiding by an illegal omission. Accordingly, the appellant, being the person responsible for creating circumstances provoking or forcing the victim to take the extreme step to avoid a more miserable life and not making any attempt to save her life, was liable to be convicted for the offense of abetment of suicide.
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