The bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka was hearing a criminal appeal against the Madhya Pradesh High Court's order dated June 25, 2018, in which the High Court upheld the appellants' conviction under Section 325 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced them to one year of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.500/, with a month of imprisonment if they did not pay the fine.
In this recent judgement by the supreme court, the court clarified the charges of section 149 of the Indian Penal Code and gave it a new view. It goes back to the appeal filed in a trial court by a complainant. The complaint said that the complainant and his son were going through a farm, lifting off the engine from a tractor, while they were returning after the task, they were gathered by 15-20 men who were armed and were there for the purpose of eliminating them and beating them. They then started beating his son with lathi and axe and by abusing him with filthy language.
And so, they filled a complaint in the trial court against those twenty men who were Mahendra singh, Roop singh, Khilan Singh Bhujbal and other 10-12 men, who were not recognized by the complainant based on section 148,294, 341 read with 149, 323, 324, 325 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Trial Court in its judgement convicted three out of the twenty men as filed in the charge sheet, and acquitted the rest seventeen and these three were convicted under 148, 325 read with 149, 323 of The Indian Penal Code. The convicted persons (appellants in this case) filed for a revision in the High court of Madya Pradesh and the High Court agreed with the judgement of the trial court and dismissed the appeal.
The appellants then filled an appeal against the order of the High court in the Supreme court. The counsel for the appellants argued that the charge sheet was filled for twenty persons and only three were convicted, and that one of the essentials for section 149 Indian Penal Code (Unlawful Assembly) were to have at least five people, which is not fulfilled here and so, the charges that are read with section 149 should be removed.The counsel for the respondents contended that the charge sheet mentioned 20 people which is enough for convicting on the grounds of section 149 Indian Penal Code, and also the number of people who were convicted was not the subject of section 149.
The court pointed out that it is an essential condition for an unlawful assembly to have five or more persons but the court also said that it may not be necessary that five or more persons necessarily be brought before court and convicted.
The judgement given by the supreme court said that the appeal is succeeded, with this the court quashed the judgements given by the trial court and the high court. With this the Supreme Court also said that in the given facts and circumstances, the conviction of the present appellants under Section 325 read with Section 149 IPC at least could not have been invoked.