This article has been written by Oishika Banerji of Amity Law School, Kolkata. This article discusses Section 107 of IPC, 1860 which deals with the offence of abetment.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.


Two or more people commit a vast majority of crimes. In most of these crimes, there are sometimes people who do not participate in the crime themselves but assist others to commit the crime through various means, such as instigation, aid, or providing help or cooperation. These individuals might be said to aid in the commission of the crime, as it is correctly said, “just as a man with property and wealth has a sentinel to protect his assets, a thief or criminal requires others to assist him in committing an offence”. This article discusses the offence of abetment and its related components in detail. 

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What do you mean by abetment

The term ‘abetment’ in criminal law indicates that there is a distinction between the person abetting the commission of an offence (or abettor) and the actual perpetrator of the offence or the principal offence or the principal offender.

The word ‘abet’ has been described as meaning to help, to assist or give assistance, to order, procure, or counsel, to countenance, to urge, induce, or assist in encouraging or setting another to commit according to the decision of the case of Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab (1994).

In the case of Emperor v. Parimal Chatterjee (1932), it was decided that an abettor is a person who aids in the commission of a crime or aids in the commission of an act that would be an offence if undertaken by a person capable of committing an offence with the same intent or knowledge as the abettor. The essentials are as follows:

  1. There must be an abettor,
  2. The abettor must abet, and
  3. The abetment must be an offence or an act that would be an offence, if committed by a person capable in law of committing the offence with the same intention or knowledge as that of the abettor.

Abetment under Section 107 IPC

In a comprehensive way under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, abetment can be defined as an act committed when a person becomes liable as an abettor if he/she instigates another to commit a crime or engages in a conspiracy with another to commit a crime and some act is done in furtherance of such conspiracy, or if he/she intentionally aids another in order to facilitate the commission of a crime. 

Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines the abetment of a thing. In the case of Malan v. State of Maharashtra (1956), the ingredients of the offence of abetment were laid down as follows, which are essential for completing abetment as a crime: 

  1. The person persuades/instigates someone else to do a particular thing, or
  2. The person participates in any conspiracy to do such item with one or more other individuals, or
  3. The individual intentionally facilitates the doing of such activity through an illegal act or omission.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860, contains a broad definition of abetment. It does not constitute the aiding and abetting of an offence, but rather of a thing that may or may not be an offence. In some circumstances, this makes the abettor solely accountable, even if the individual aided is completely innocent. Section 108 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, defines aiding and abetting as an offence. Thus, abetment entails a degree of involvement on the part of the abettor.

The scheme of provisions related to abetment under the Indian Penal Code, 1860

  1. Section 107 IPC: Defines abetment generally speaks of three kinds of abetment, namely, abetment by instigation, abetment by conspiracy, and abetment by aid.
  2. Section 108 IPC: Explains when an abetment of an offence takes place, and Section 108-A provides for the case of abetments-in India of an offence committed in a foreign country.
  3. Section 109 IPC: Prescribes the punishment for the offence of abetment when the offence abetted is committed, while Section 110 prescribes the punishment for abetment where the person abetted commits the act with a different intention or knowledge from that of the abettor.
  4. Section 111 IPC: Provides for cases of abetment resulting in a different offence but which is a probable consequence thereof.
  5. Section 112 IPC: Provides for cumulative punishment in cases covered by Section 111.
  6. Section 113 IPC: Supplementary to Section 111 and provides for punishment in cases where the act abetted causes a different effect from that intended by the abettor.
  7. Section 114 IPC: Provides for cases where the abettor is present at the time of the offence and makes him liable for the main offence and not merely as an abettor.
  8. Sections 115 IPC and 116 IPC: Prescribe the punishment in cases where the offence abetted is not committed.
  9. Section 117 IPC: Deals with abetment of offences by the public generally or a large group of persons.
  10. Section 118 IPC: Prescribes the penalty for concealing the existence of a design in another to commit a grave offence.
  11. Sections 119 IPC and 120 IPC: Provide for punishment in the case of public servants and others respectively for concealment of a design in another person to commit the offence not covered by Section 118.

Mens rea is the essence of abetment

Abetment is defined as a person’s active and intentional support of a criminal culprit. It relies on the intention of the person who abets as well as the conduct committed by the person who abets. The requirement of mens rea as a precondition for liability is thus critical to remember when analysing the law relating to abetment. Instigation, and engaging in a conspiracy to do something or purposefully helping another are all activities in which the person abetting knowingly promotes or supports another person in the commission of the offence, as can be deduced from a simple reading of Section 107. 

As a result, knowledge of the act and its consequences is implicit in the construction of the provision itself. As has been observed in Shrilal v. the State of Madhya Pradesh (1952), in order to convict a person of abetting the commission of a crime, it is not only essential to prove that he/she participated in the innocent parts of the transaction, but it is also necessary to connect them with the criminal steps of the transaction in some way. Similarly, it cannot be stated that a person who offers his support willfully aids or facilitates the commission of a crime and that he is an abettor if he does not know or has no cause to believe that the act he is assisting or supporting is in itself a criminal act.

In Barendra Kumar Ghosh v. King Emperor (1925), the Privy Council declared that a person’s presence at the scene of an incident constitutes abetment if it is meant to facilitate the commission of the crime. It is insufficient to show that the offence charged could not have been committed without the putative abettor’s help. 

When mens rea is not required in case of abetment? 

The situation is different, however, in cases when the statute expressly states that no mens rea is required to make a person responsible for the offence of abetment. Mens rea is not required to prove abetment in cases where the conduct itself is an offence, such as the sale of obscene books or other things under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, or where strict liability exists in public welfare or social law.

In the case of Kartar Singh v. the State of Punjab (1994), the Supreme Court of India had concurred with a Bombay High Court judgment in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Abdul Aziz (1962), stating that, ‘when no mens rea is essential in the substantive offences, the same is also not necessary in the abetment thereof’. The Apex Court was considering the validity of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention Act), 1987 in the present case. 

Abetment by instigation

A person is said to instigate another when he/she actively suggests or stimulates him/her to do an act by any means, or language, direct or indirect, whether it takes the form of express solicitation or hints, insinuation or encouragement, or willful misrepresentation or wilful concealment of a material fact. It is not required to use exact words to convey what the individual to whom the instructions are provided should perform. While reasonable confidence about the meaning of the words used is required in order to determine if there was incitement, it is not required in law. 

Only when advice is intended to actively suggest or stimulate the commission of an offence, it is considered to be instigation. Mere acquiescence does not amount to incitement. As a result, the word ‘instigation’ means exhortation or urging to do something drastic or unwise, as well as, to stimulate or urge. The presence of mens rea is therefore a required corollary of instigation. In the case of Swamy Prahaladdas v. the State of M.P. and another (1995), it was observed that comments spoken in a disagreement or on the spur of the moment do not have the mens rea necessary to constitute incitement because they are spoken in a fit of rage and emotional state.

The decision made by the Supreme Court of India in the 1967 case of Jamuna Singh v. the State of Bihar was that the offence of abetment is complete when the alleged abettor has influenced another or engaged in a plot to perpetrate the offence. The act assisted does not have to be performed to commit the offence of abetment. Only in the situation of a person abetting an offence by willfully assisting another to commit the same, would the accusation of abetment against him be expected to fail if the person accused of committing the offence is acquitted.

A person who stands by silently and does not actively participate in the committing of the crime is not an abettor. It’s a matter of fact if there was any instigation. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all criterion for determining whether or not there was incitement. In the absence of direct proof of instigation, a conclusion about whether or not there was instigation must be drawn from the circumstances of the case at hand. 

In the 2004 case of Ranganayaki v. State by Inspector of Police, the Supreme Court of India held that the prosecution does not have to prove that the actual operative cause in the mind of the person abetting was instigation and nothing else, as long as there was instigation and the offence was committed or would have been committed if the person committing the act had the same knowledge and intention as the abettor. The instigation must be made in relation to the act that was performed, not to the act that is likely to be performed by the person who is instigated. It is only if this condition is fulfilled that a person can be guilty of abetment by instigation.

Instigation in dowry death cases 

In situations involving the death of young brides or women within seven years of marriage as a result of dowry harassment, instigation as a kind of abetment has traditionally been one of the most important issues. 

  1. In Protima Dutta v. the State of West Bengal (1977), the deceased’s mother-in-law and her husband were charged with abetment of suicide by encouraging and inciting her to commit herself under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, read with Section 24 of the Code. Despite the fact that there was no explicit request, their callous treatment of the deceased over the months made her go through mental suffering. As a result, it was determined that a sequence of actions amounting to deliberately advising and encouraging the deceased to commit suicide amounted to incitement.
  2. The Supreme Court has ruled in Wazir Chand v. the State of Haryana (1989) that it must be proven that the death in question was a suicidal death before someone can be charged with abetment of suicide.
  3. Section 306, which allows for the abetment of suicide, is frequently invoked in the context of bride-burning and dowry-related deaths. Abetment is also defined as supporting, inciting, and thereby inducing suicides. There are numerous examples of this. It will be enough to quote the State of Punjab v. Iqbal Singh (1991), in which it was determined that the husband’s and his relatives’ actions in creating a horrible situation in which the deceased has no other option but to commit suicide amounted to abetment through inducement.

Abetment by conspiracy 

The abetment through engaging with one or more persons in a plot to do something is the second leg of the definition of abetment. Conspiracy abetment necessitates the verification of three essential factors, namely:

  1. The abettor is involved in a plot with one or more people.
  2. The conspiracy was aided in the doing of the thing.
  3. In furtherance of the plot and in order to carry out the act, an act or criminal omission has occurred.

If someone enters into an agreement with one or more individuals to carry out a legal act by illegal means, or to commit an illegal act, and some act is done in furtherance of that agreement, he/she is said to abet the commission of an offence by conspiracy. A conspiracy to do something involves a group of two or more people who have agreed to accomplish something together. It has been decided that where a criminal conspiracy amounts to abetment under Section 107, invoking the provisions of Sections 120-A and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is superfluous because the Code has created a specific provision for the punishment of such an offence.

To prove abetment through conspiracy, the prosecution must show that the abettor inspired the doing of a particular action, engaged in a conspiracy with one or more other individuals to accomplish that thing, or willfully helped the doing of that thing through an act or illegal omission. The amplitude of criminal conspiracy is slightly more than that of abetment by conspiracy. The Supreme Court of India’s decision in the 2001 case of Saju v. the State of Kerala has had a similar line of reasoning, to the one discussed above. 

Difference between abetment and conspiracy

  1. Abetment is the act of one or more individuals engaging or employing others to commit an offence. The former, that is the person who aids and abets, is referred to as the ‘abettor’, whereas the latter, that is, the person who executes the crime with his/her own hands, is referred to as the ‘primary offender’. Conspiracy, on the other hand, is a procedure in which two or more people agree to commit an illegal act or to do/commit a lawful/legal act using illegal methods. Conspirators are the parties to the arrangement.
  2. A simple combination of parties or agreement between them is not enough to constitute abetment. Some act or illegal omission must occur in furtherance of the conspiracy and in order to carry out the object conspired for.
  3. In the case of abetment, the sanction of relevant authorities is not required to pursue the abettors who only assisted in the commission of a crime. While in a conspiracy, responsible authorities’ approval is required to continue against conspirators who have only agreed to conduct a crime.
  4. One or more people can commit abetment, whereas two or more people can commit conspiracy. 
  5. While abetment is the genus, conspiracy is the species.
  6. Abetment per se is not a substantive offence whereas criminal conspiracy is substantive. 
  7. Abetment can be committed in a variety of ways, including instigation, conspiracy, purposeful aid, and so on, but conspiracy is a kind of abetment.
  8. Sections 107 to 120 of the law define the offence of abetment, whereas Sections 120-A and 120-B of the 1860 Code explain the offence of conspiracy.
  9. Section 109 of the code is concerned only with the punishment of abetment for which no express provision is made under the Penal Code. A charge under Section 109 should, therefore, be alone with some other substantive offence committed in consequence of abetment. The offence of criminal conspiracy, on the other hand, is a stand-alone offence. It is penalized under Section 120 B of the Code, which makes a charge under Section 109 of the Code redundant and ineffective.

Abetment by aid

If a person willfully assists or lends aid in the conduct of an offence by doing or failing to do something, he/she is said to abet the commission of the crime. It is insufficient to have the intention to offer assistance. Instead, the abettor must engage in some active behaviour and the act must be carried out as a result of that conduct. The phrase ‘intentional aid’ in Section 107 implies active participation in the commission of a crime. If an individual has no knowledge of the offence being committed or anticipated, merely providing assistance does not constitute abetment by aid. The essence of the abetment by aid offence is the intent to assist in the commission of the crime. As a result, a person who assists in the commission of an offence under duress or fear is not covered by this provision. This view was made by the Apex Court in 1969 while deciding on the case of Dalpal Singh v. the State of Rajasthan

A person abets the doing of a thing who actively assists the doing of that thing, according to Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Intentional assistance can include any of the following elements:

  1. Committing an act that directly aids in the commission of a crime.
  2. Illegally failing to accomplish anything that one is obligated to do.
  3. Acting in a way that makes it easier for someone else to commit the crime.

A careful examination of Section 107’s third clause, as well as explanation 2, indicates that an act that merely aids the commission of an offence does not constitute abetting an offence unless it was done with the aim to facilitate the conduct of the ‘thing.’ If a person invites someone casually or for a friendly purpose and that invitation aids the murder of the invitee, the former is not considered an abettor unless the invitation was issued with the objective to facilitate the murder. It is insufficient that the alleged abettor’s act facilitates the commission of the crime.

In the case of Faguna Kama Nath v. the State of Assam (1959) the Apex Court had observed that aid can be given through both voluntary and involuntary acts of commission and omission. For example, if a police officer knows that specific individuals are likely to be tortured in order to coerce confessions, he is liable for abetment to the offence of extortion by an act of omission. 

It is evident from Explanation 2 that in order to be subject to Section 107 (thirdly), the act must have been performed, as one cannot be held liable for assisting in the performance of a task that has not been completed. For example, if a servant keeps his master’s house’s gate open in order to assist the admission of thieves, he cannot be charged with likely theft which has been carried out by others. However, if the servant lets the thieves into the house after opening the door, he is guilty of abetment in the sense that his actions encouraged them to steal.

Abetment by illegal omission 

When a person is legally obligated to do something but chooses to do nothing, that person is liable for abetment by illegal omission. In the case of Raj Kumar v. the State of Punjab (1983), the accused, a husband, could not be found guilty of ‘illegal omission’ because he did not prevent his wife from committing suicide when she threatened to do so and instead committed suicide by lighting fire to her clothes. To convict someone of abetment by ‘illegal omission,’ it must be proven that the accused not only unintentionally helped the commission of the crime by his non-interference, but also that his omission resulted in a legal requirement being breached.

What’s important to remember is that the illegal omission must be an act that the individual is legally obligated to perform. When the law imposes an obligation to discharge, a person’s illegal failure to act makes him criminally accountable. It was found in the case of Subhash Chandra Bebarta v. the State of Orissa (1974), that a lorry driver who permitted a youngster to drive while knowing the child did not know how to drive, resulting in an accident, assisted the offence by illegal omission. However, careless conduct, even though it violates the law, does not constitute abetment by ‘illegal omission.’

Punishment for abetment

The idea of abetment being prosecuted as a separate crime and penalised may seem strange to the general public because most people believe that only the perpetrators will be punished. In its provision for abtement, the Penal Code carefully lays out the offence of abetment, outlining in detail the many types of sanctions that the abetment laws announce. Before dealing with the provisions designed for punishment for abetment, it is necessary for us to have an idea about the distinct conditions that may result from the act of abetment which may involve the application of the discussed provisions hereunder: 

  1. It is possible that no infraction will be committed due to abetment. In this case, the wrongdoer is liable under Sections 115 and 116 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for just assisting in the commission of a crime.
  2. The precise conduct that is being targeted for abetment may be committed and will be punishable under Sections 109 and 110 of the Code of 1860.
  3. Some remarkable acts, however, may occur as a result of the aided act, in which case the abettor shall be prosecuted under Sections 111, 112, and 113 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Section 109 IPC, 1860

Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and when no express provision is made for its punishment. The provision lays down that If the act assisted is committed as a result of the abetment, and this Code makes no express provision for the punishment of such abetment, the person who abets the offence should be punished as provided for the offence.  Instigating, urging, or promoting someone to commit a crime is referred to as abetment. It can also refer to assisting the perpetrator in the commission of a crime. When more than one person is involved in committing a crime, the level of involvement of each individual may differ.

For instance, as a reward for granting A some favour in the performance of B’s official tasks, A presents a bribe to B, a public worker. The bribe is accepted by B. A has aided and facilitated the violation of Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Another illustration that can be considered in this regard is if we suppose that A and B work together to poison Z. In order to carry out the plot, A obtains the poison and provides it to B, who will administer it to Z. In order to carry out the plot, B administers the poison to Z while A is away, resulting in Z’s death. In this case, B is the murderer. A is convicted of aiding and abetting the crime through conspiracy and faces death penalty therefore.

Regardless of whether the abettor is present at the time the offence is committed or not, Section 109 of the Penal Code applies because he/she has instigated the commission of the offence or has connected with at least one or more different people in a conspiracy to commit an offence, and in accordance with that conspiracy, some unlawful act or unlawful exclusion occurs, or has purposefully assisted the commission of an offence by an act or illicit oversight. This Section specifies that if the Penal Code has not separately accommodated abetment as a punishment, it is prosecuted with the same discipline as the initial offence. Instigation is not expected to be in a precise structure or to be expressed solely in words, according to the law. The instigation could come in the form of behaviour or conduct. Whether there was instigation or not is a question that must be answered based on the facts of each instance.

Section 110 IPC, 1860

Even if the individual assisting, commits the offence with a different motive than the principal perpetrator of the crime, the abettor will be prosecuted with the sentence imposed for the offence aided, according to Section 110 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This provision has no bearing on the aided individual’s responsibility.

Section 111 IPC, 1860

The development of abetment legislation around the phrase “each individual is presumed to intend the corollary results of his act” continues in Section 111 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. If one man instigates another to commit specific wrongdoing, and the latter, in response to such instigation, commits not only that wrongdoing but also another wrongdoing in furtherance of it, the former is criminally liable as an abettor in regard to the latter, if it is one that a reasonable person with the intelligence of a reasonable man would have known to be committed at the time of inducement.

Section 112 IPC, 1860

The criteria outlined in the previous section are expanded in Section 112 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It holds the abettor responsible for both the abetted and the committed offence. A close examination of Sections 111, 112, and 133 reveals that if an individual aids and abets another in the commission of an offence, and the chief goes on to do something else that has a different outcome than the abettor intended, thereby aggravating the offence, the abettor is liable for the consequences of his principal’s actions. The essential question in such an investigation is whether the abettor, if he had been a reasonable man at the time he was being provoked or if he had been actively aiding the principal criminal, could have forecast the likely outcomes of his abetment.

Section 113 IPC, 1860

Sections 113 and 111 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 should be read together. Section 111 deals with the doing of an actus reus that isn’t the same as the one abetted, while it also deals with the circumstance when the actus reus is comparable to the abetted guilty conduct but has a different impact.

Section 114 IPC, 1860

Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is likely to be activated only once conditions indicating abetment of a specific crime have been established, and then the presence of the accused at the commission of that wrongdoing has been established. Section 114 deals with the situation in which there has not only been wrongdoing in form of abetment, but also an actual commission of the wrongdoing abetted and the abettor is present. Clearly, the section is not punitive. 

Section 114 does not apply in every case when the abettor is present during the commission of the aided offence. While Section 109 refers to abetment, Section 114 refers to circumstances in which the abettor was not only present at the moment of the crime’s conduct but also abetment was carried out prior to his presence.  There is a very delicate line existing between Section 34 and Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. According to Section 34, if a criminal act is committed by a group of people for the common good, each of them is liable as if it were committed by himself alone. Thus, if two or more people are present, helping and abetting in the commission of the murder, each will be tried as the main perpetrator of the crime, though it is unlikely that it will be clear which of them actually committed the crime.

Section 114 refers to a circumstance in which an individual, by abetment, renders himself liable as an abettor prior to the commission of the wrongful act, is there when the actus reus occurs, but does not actively participate in its execution. A combined act under Section 34, on the other hand, does not include a simple order from one person to another and the execution of that order by the other, which may only be the latter’s act.

Section 115 IPC, 1860

The abetment of particular offences that are either not committed at all, not committed in the course of abetment, or only partially committed is punishable under Section 115 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The detention stated in this section is for a period of up to seven years, and you will also be required to pay a fine. Furthermore, if the abettor commits any act for which the abettor is liable as a result of the abetment and which causes harm to any person, the abettor is subject to imprisonment of either sort for a duration up to fourteen years, as well as a fine.

Section 116 IPC, 1860

The abetment of an offence punishable by detention is covered by Section 116 of the Indian Penal Code. It is necessary to note that there is no part of the Code that deals with the abetment of an offence punishable only by a fine. However, abetment is at the heart of Section 306 of the 1860 Code’s violation. To put it another way, if there is no abetment, an offence under Section 306 which is dealing with ‘abetment of suicide’ will undoubtedly become a vital factor. Having an abetment is not anticipated. As a result, there can’t be a violation of Section 116 when read with Section 306.

Common questions related to the offence of abetment

As we gradually progress to the end of this article, it is evident for the readers to ask certain general questions related to the offence of abetment. The same has been addressed by means of three common questions that if answered, clear every kind of confusion associated with abetment. The same has been provided hereunder. 

What happens to other offenders when the principal offender gets acquitted in a case involving a charge of abetment by aiding

When the principal offender is acquitted, all other convicts are discharged from their role of being a part of the offence of abetment.

The Supreme Court of India was reviewing the case of Trilok Chand Jain v. the State of Delhi (1977), in which a person was accused of assisting the major criminal, a Delhi Energy Supply Undertaking inspector, in receiving a bribe for supplying an electricity connection to the complainant. When the chief offender was cleared and exonerated of the offending act by the trial court, nothing remained of the case because there was no evidence that the appellant, a lower cadre employee, had sought the money. The prosecution’s case was unique in that the inspector was the one who demanded money. 

As a result, the prosecution’s claim that the money was demanded by the appellant labourer for himself (despite the fact that the major perpetrator had been acquitted) was found to be undiscovered, and the individual was therefore acquitted. When the main perpetrator was acquitted, it was decided that the individual accused of assisting and abetting could not be convicted.

What is the effect of acquittal of a person committing the offence on an abettor

In Jamuna Singh v. the State of Bihar (1967), the Supreme Court of India declared that it cannot be established in law that a person cannot be convicted of abetting a crime where the person alleged to have committed the crime as a result of the abetment has been acquitted. The nature of the act abetted and the method in which the abetment was made determine the abettors’ guilt. When the alleged abettor has inspired or engaged in a conspiracy to perpetrate the offence, the charge of abetment is complete. The act assisted does not have to be committed to committing the charge of abetment. Only in the situation of a person abetting a crime by willfully assisting another to commit that offence would the accusation of abetment against him be expected to fail if the person accused of committing the offence is acquitted.

Is giving advice a kind of instigation

Advice by itself does not always imply incitement. Advice-based instigation, on the other hand, is harder to substantiate. What must be demonstrated is that the advice was intended to actively propose or stimulate the commission of an offence. Otherwise, the general advice is just too ambiguous a term to be used to substantiate an allegation.

The explanation of the term ‘abettor’ as provided in Section 108 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, states that an abettor is a person who aids in the commission of a crime, or the performance of an act that would be an offence if undertaken by a person capable of committing an offence with the same intent or knowledge as the abettor. Take for instance, B is provoked to murder D by A.  B stabs D in retaliation for the instigation. D heals from the injuries. Here, A is responsible for inciting B to kill D. It is not necessary for the person assisted to be legally capable of committing an offence, to have the same guilty intention or knowledge as the abettor, or to have any guilty intention or knowledge at all. 

Let us consider another example where A instigates B to set fire to a dwelling-house. B, as a result of his insanity, is unable to comprehend the nature of the act, or that he is doing something criminal or against the law, and as a result of A’s instigation, sets fire to the house. B has committed no crime, but A is guilty of aiding and abetting the crime of lighting fire to a dwelling-house and is subject to the penalty for that crime. Thus, giving advice will not be amounting to be a kind of instigation if not the intention of the abettor is guilty or malicious. 

What happens when the substantive offence is not established in abetment cases

When the substantive offence is not proven and the principal offender is acquitted, the abettor is usually not held responsible. In other words, if the substantive accusation is dismissed, the abetment charge is dismissed as well. The Supreme Court had stated in Madan Raj Bhandari v. the State of Rajasthan (1970), where the appellant was charged with abetment with another in causing a woman’s miscarriage, even though the woman was acquitted, that “an abetment charge ordinarily fails when the substantive offence is not established against the principal offender”.


To conclude, it can be said that a person is charged with abetment of a crime if he/she assists or supplies an item to another person who is committing a crime. The offence of abetment cannot be confined to the scope of Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 only as the entire Chapter XVI is dedicated towards the same. For the purpose of this article, the importance of Section 107 has been reflected and how it contributes to creating the environment for the offence of abetment to spread, has been highlighted. Section 107 introduces the offence of abetment to its readers and lays down the path for the following provisions to take over the responsibility of discussing the offence. Keeping this in mind, it can be said that Section 107 holds immense relevance in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as it facilitates interpretation of the complex offence of abutment. 


  1. PSA Pillai, Criminal law (13th Edition), LexisNexis.

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