Abetment- Section 107
Author: Tulika Pathak, III year of B.A., LL.B.(Hons.) from PSIT College of Law,PSIT, kanpur.
Abetment of a thing- Anybody abets the doing of a thing, who:
First- Provokes any person to do that thing; or
Second- Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place as a result of that conspiracy, and in order to do that thing; or
Thirdly- Intentionally provides aid, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.
Generally, we know that if someone commits an offence, he is held liable according to the sections of IPC to the crime concerned. For example, if someone commits an offence of murder, he will be convicted under Section 302 of IPC but in many cases what happens is that a person who holds a position does not commit the crime himself but he orders someone working under him to commit that offence. Now the question arises that the person who ordered the other person, what will be his criminal liability? These things are dealt with under Section 107 of IPC.
Abetment under section 107 is a substantive offence. Even if the crime has not been committed, abetment in itself is an offence.
1. Meaning of abetment- Abetment means to instigate a person to do or not to do an act in a specified manner, or aid given by some person to the other by his own will or under pressure in doing an act which is an offence. To constitute an offence of abetment, there must be an abettor who must abet, and the act abetted must be an offence.
2. Principle and scope of abetment- When several persons are associated with the commission of a crime the degree of culpability of each will depend on the mode of his participation in the crime, for the law recognises gradations of guilt based on the variety of ways in which a person might be associated in the act of a crime. Liability under the chapter for abetment is based on the principle that many crimes would be impossible without the support and encouragement received from others who do not actively cooperate in the crime but prepare the ground and facilitate its commission. The code penalises all those who may have lent their support and assistance in one form or the other to the commissioner of a crime.
3. English law- The following classification of the criminals according to the role played by each in English law are:
a. 1st Degree: the one who actually commits the crime or who get it accomplished through his agent; or
b. 2nd Degree: The one who was present at the commission of the crime aids and assists in its commission.
4. Indian Law- The Indian Penal Code does not make distinction between people in either the first or second degree. All those who are present at the scene and participate in the commission of a crime are liable either as the actual offender or under the provisions governing joint and constructive liability.
Ways of Abetment
Abetment by instigation
A person is said to instigate another when he incites, urges, encourages, solicits or provokes him to do an act prohibited by law (Ramabtar Agarwalla v State ). Advice amounts to instigation only when intended to actively suggest or instigation.
Explanation 1 of section 107 of IPC states that instigation may also take place by wilful misrepresentation or wilful concealment of a material fact which one is bound to disclose.
The act of instigation can take any form. It may be by conduct (Ram Kumar v State of Himachal Pradesh AIR 1995 SC 1965).
There must be a proximate causal connection between instigation and the act committed as a result (State of Gujrat v Pradyuman Raman Lal Mehta). Also, a person may be instigated by suggesting, stimulating, supporting, hinting or insinuating the commission of the act (Baby John v State AIR Tr&Coch 251).
Abetment by conspiracy
If a person agrees to do a legal act by illegal means or he does some illegal act, he is said to abet the commission of an offence by conspiracy.
Case: Pramatha Nath Talukdar v Saroj Ranjan Sarkar AIR 1962 SC 876
In the case of criminal conspiracy, the very agreement or plot is the act to establish the conviction of the participants of the conspiracy.
Abetment by aid
If a person intentionally renders assistance or gives aid by doing an act or omitting to do an act, he is said to abet the commission of an offence. Mere intention to render assistance is insufficient. There must be conduct on the part of the abettor.
A person will not be an abettor if he assists in a crime for which he has no knowledge and has no reason to ascertain. However, the presence of a guilty mind is not an absolute pre-condition to establishing the offence of abetment as there might be instances where a statute explicitly mentions it. For example, sale of obscene books under section 292, IPC or wherever strict liability exists in social legislations or public welfare, the guilty mind is not required.
Punishment of certain offences is punishable under specific Sections of IPC or under other laws. Take the example of Section 306 of IPC in which if a person abets someone for suicide, it is punishable but when no specific provision exists, the abettor is going to be punished with the punishment prescribed for that specific offence he has abetted.
Section 108 of IPC defines abettor as a person who abets. He may be an instigator, a conspirer or a helper in the commission of a crime. One thing to keep in mind is that this Section will not apply for cases where the thing abetted is not an offence. Another point to be taken into account with reference to Section 108 is that it does not examine that the person abetted is capable under the law to commit an offence or if such person possesses the same intention as that of the abettor.