Sometimes, indirectly participating in committing an offence itself may also become a punishable offence. In such crimes, the offenders do not directly involve themselves in the offence. However, their abetment can become punishable in itself. These offences relate to Section 107, IPC under the chapter of abetment.
Abetment under Section 107, IPC
Chapter 5 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with offences relating to abetment. Abetment basically means the action of instigating, encouraging or promoting a person into committing an offence. It can also mean aiding the offender while he is committing a crime.
When more than one person contributes to committing an offence, each person’s involvement may vary. This variation may be either in the manner or in the degree to which the involvement occurs.
For example, one person may procure a gun and hand it over to another who may shoot somebody with it. The former person is guilty of abetment, while the latter commits murder.
Definition of Abetment
The definition of abetment under Section 107, IPC requires a person to abet the commission of an offence. This abetment may occur in any of the three methods that the provision prescribes.
The Section says that abetment basically takes place when a person abets the doing of a thing by:
(1) instigating a person to do that thing; or
(2) engaging with another person (or persons) in a conspiracy to do that thing; or
(3) intentionally aiding a person to do that thing.
When any of these requirements exists, the offence of abetment is complete. Sometimes a person may commit more than one of these three circumstances in a single offence.
(1) Abetment by Instigation
Instigation basically means suggesting, encouraging or inciting a person to do or abstain from doing something. Instigation may take place either directly or indirectly, by written or oral words, or even by gestures and hints.
The instigation must be sufficient to actively encourage a person to commit an offence. It should not be mere advice or a simple suggestion. The Instigator need not even possess mens rea (a guilty intention to commit the crime).
Explanation 1 of this Section throws some lights on what instigation may mean in this context. It says that instigation may generally happen even by:
(a) wilful misrepresentation; or
(b) willful concealment of a material fact which a person is bound to disclose.
For example, a court directs Amit, a police officer, to arrest Raj under an arrest warrant. Brijesh informs Amit that Chandan is Raj despite knowing that he is not. Under this misrepresentation, Amit ends up arresting Chandan instead of Raj. In this case, Brijesh is guilty of abetting Amit in wrongfully apprehending Chandan.
(2) Abetment by Conspiracy
Conspiracy basically means an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act. Merely intending to commit an offence is not sufficient for this purpose.
Thus, the conspirators must actively agree and prepare themselves to commit that offence, it becomes a conspiracy. Furthermore, the act which the conspirators conspire to commit itself must be illegal or punishable.
For example, in dowry death cases, the in-laws of the victim are often guilty of abetment by conspiracy. They may do so by constantly taunting, torturing or instigating the victim. Even suicides may take place in this manner through abetment by conspiracy.
(3) Abetment by Aiding
The third manner in which abetment may take place is by intentionally aiding the offender in committing that offence. This generally happens when the abettor facilitates the crime or helps in committing it. The intention to aid the offender is very important.
For example, merely giving food or clothing to an alleged offender may not be punishable. But giving him food, clothing and shelter to help him hide from the police or commit a crime is punishable.
Punishment for Abetment
Abetment of certain offences is punishable under specific Sections of IPC or under other laws. For example, abetment of suicide is punishable under Section 306. However, when no specific provision exists, the abettor will be punished with the punishment prescribed for that particular offence he has abetted.
Solved Questions on Section 107, IPC
(a) The provision under which the definition of abetment has been explained is __________.
(b) An instigator need not possess __________ while abetting an offence.
(c) Abetment of __________ has a specific punishment under Section 306.
(d) Abetment may happen by instigation, __________ or aid.
Answers: (a) Section 107, IPC (b) mens rea (c) suicide (d) conspiracy