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Abetment in Criminal Law

Criminal Law for Law Entrances

Abetment refers to encouraging or assisting someone in committing a crime or an offence. It involves actively supporting or promoting the commission of a wrongful act. In legal terms, abetment is defined under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and carries its own consequences.

Let’s break down the concept of abetment and explore its various aspects.

The Three Forms of Abetment

According to the IPC, a person abets the doing of a thing in three ways:

a) Instigation: When someone urges or provokes another person to commit a particular act, they are said to be instigating that person. Instigation plays a crucial role in abetment.

b) Conspiracy: Engaging in a conspiracy to commit a crime is also considered abetment. If multiple individuals come together to plan and execute an illegal act and an act or illegal omission occurs due to that conspiracy, they can be held accountable for abetment.

c) Aiding: Intentionally aiding someone in the commission of an offence is another form of abetment. The person becomes complicit in the crime by actively assisting or facilitating the act through an act or omission.

Key Ingredients of Abetment

To establish a case of abetment, certain elements need to be present:

a) Act or Omission: Abetment can involve either an act or an omission. It means that actively doing something or deliberately not doing something can both constitute abetment.

b) Instigation: The person accused of abetment must have instigated someone to commit an offence. Instigation can be in the form of encouragement, inducement or any action that influences another person to carry out a wrongful act.

c) Conspiracy: In cases of abetment through conspiracy, it is essential to establish that two or more individuals have come together to commit a crime.

d) Aiding: The accused must have intentionally aided another person through an act or an illegal omission. This assistance could involve providing resources, information or any form of support that facilitates the commission of the offence.

Illustrative Examples

Example 1

Rahul and Karan conspire to rob a bank. They plan the entire operation, including the timing, escape routes and division of stolen money. During the robbery, Rahul keeps a lookout while Karan enters the bank and steals the cash. In this case, both Rahul and Karan can be charged with abetment. Rahul’s role as a lookout and Karan’s act of carrying out the theft are both integral to the commission of the offence.

Example 2

Priya wants to settle a personal score with her neighbour, Deepak. She approaches Rajesh, another neighbour and persuades him to help her seek revenge. Priya convinces Rajesh to damage Deepak’s property by setting it on fire. Driven by Priya’s instigation, Rajesh follows through with her plan and sets fire to Deepak’s house. Both Priya and Rajesh can be held liable for abetment. Priya instigated the offence by encouraging Rajesh to commit the act, and Rajesh actively aided in the commission of the offence.

Example 3

A software company employee, Preeti, is dissatisfied with her colleague Neha’s success and promotion. Out of jealousy, Preeti sabotages Neha’s reputation by spreading false rumours about her competence and work ethic among their colleagues. Preeti’s actions lead to a hostile work environment for Neha and hinder her professional growth. Preeti can be charged with abetment as she intentionally aided in damaging Neha’s reputation through her false statements, aiming to harm her professionally.

Example 4

Let’s consider a scenario to understand abetment better. Tejasvi, a public officer, is authorised by the Court of Justice to apprehend a person named Rashi. Knowing this fact and also being aware that Juhi is not Rashi, Avinash deliberately misleads Tejasvi by falsely stating that Juhi is Rashi. As a result, Tejasvi apprehends Juhi.

In this case, Avinash can be held guilty of abetment. Avinash actively encouraged the wrongful act by knowingly providing false information and instigating Tejasvi’s action of apprehending Juhi.


Abetment involves instigating, conspiring or intentionally aiding someone in committing a crime or an offence. It is a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code

Note: Access complete CLAT Legal Reasoning notes here.

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