Section 396 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!
The act of that one person shall be treated as the act of all the dacoits for which they all shall be responsible. The offence is very serious and is one of those eight cases in the Indian Penal Code where death sentence may be awarded. There is no provision for the award of simple imprisonment under this section.
The accused persons had committed a pre-planned dacoity and committed two cruel murders in course of the dacoity and buried the bodies in order to cause disappearance of the evidence. The police recorded the statement of the main eye witness fifty-six days after the occurrence.
This delay was, however, reasonably explained to the satisfaction of the court. The Supreme Court held that there was no cause to interfere with this acceptance on the part of the lower court and also there were no circumstances to interfere with the award of six years’ rigorous imprisonment against the accused persons.
Where the deceased tried to resist a dacoity and in the process he was killed by a dacoit, this section was held to be applicable. Where, on the other hand, the High Court found the appellant alone to be responsible for the murder while a dacoity was being committed and thus shifted his conviction to one under section 302 with no prejudice to the accused, the Supreme Court upheld the decision.
In Kalika Tiwari v. State of Bihar one or some of the dacoits committed a murder. The Supreme Court held that every one of the dacoits was liable to be punished under section 396 of the Code though all of them had not participated in the murder, and that there was no necessity to prove common intention or common object amongst them.
The offence under section 396 is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by court of session.