Abetment: Definition and Meaning

The law controls how people behave. They are divided into criminal and non-criminal behavior categories. However, when there are criminal motives behind a behavior, even something as innocent as purchasing a knife for your kitchen, it becomes illegal. Even if the individual who purchased the knife did not actually kill someone but instead gave it to someone else to do so, the idea of abetment broadens the scope of criminal law to embrace these criminal intents and punish them. The term "abet" has to be carefully examined in order to illuminate the idea of abetment. It means to help, advance, assist, help, and promote in general. The laws of abetment are included in Chapter V of the Indian Penal Code of 1860, which also stipulates their accountability and appropriate penalties.

What is the meaning of Abetment?

The term "abet" means to assist, nudge, or push someone into doing something wrong. Thus, aiding someone in committing a crime is the definition of abetting. Although abetment is connected to the actual crime, it also constitutes a separate offense and carries a punishment of its own. In common parlance, the word "abet" means to assist, advance, aid, conduct, or promote. The term "abet" means to order, procure, or counsel; to countenance; to encourage; induce, or help; to encourage; or to set another person up to commit a crime.

In criminal law, the word "abettment" denotes that there is a distinction between the person who aids in the commission of an offense (also known as an abettor) and the person who actually commits the offense, which is also known as the primary offender.

The definition of an abettor is someone who aids in the commission of an act that would constitute an offense under the law if performed by someone with the same knowledge or purpose as the abettor.

Essentials of Abetment

Major essentials are 

Provision Related to Abetment

Chapter V of the Indian Penal Code contains provisions for abetment, followed by 15 sections i.e.,

Section 107 which defines abetment usually describes three kinds of abetment, viz., abetment by instigation, abetment by conspiracy and abetment by aid.
Section 108 explains as to when an abetment of an offence takes place,
S. 108-A provides for the case of abetments-in India of an offence committed in a foreign country.
Section 109 prescribes the punishment for the offence of abetment when the offence abetted is committed, while
S. 110 prescribe the punishment for abetment where the person abetted commits the act with a different intention or knowledge from that of the abettor.
Section 111 provides for cases of abetment resulting in a different offence but which is a probable consequence thereof.
Section 112 provides for cumulative punishment in cases covered by S. 111.
Section 113 which is supplementary to S.111 provides for punishment in cases where the act abetted causes a different effect from that intended by the abettor.
Section 114 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
Sections 115 and 116 prescribe for the punishment in cases where the offence abetted is not committed.
Section 117 deals with abetment of offences by the public generally or large groups of persons.

Constituents of Abetment/Types of Abetment

Following are the constituents of abetment −

Abetment by Instigation

The term "instigate" refers to the act of one person actively encouraging or stimulating another to perform an action through any means or language, direct or indirect, whether it takes the form of express solicitation or hints, insinuations, encouragement, a wilful misrepresentation, or a wilful concealment of a material fact.

The language used to describe what the person receiving instructions should do does not have to be formal. In order to establish if there was incitement, it is not necessary in law to prove the exact words that were said, but there must be a reasonable certainty as to the substance of the words employed.

Only when intended to actively propose or promote the conduct of an offense can be qualified as instigation. Simple consent does not qualify as instigation. Thus, the verb means to urge, inspire, or urge someone to do a dramatic or unwise action. Mens rea must consequently exist in order for there to be an act of instigation. It is well known that, as they are spoken in a fit of rage and emotion, remarks made during an argument or on the spur of the moment cannot be interpreted as having been made with the mens rea necessary to qualify as an act of incitement.

One of the key factors in cases involving the death of young brides or women within seven years of marriage as a result of dowry harassment has often been instigation as a type of abetment. According to a ruling of the Supreme Court, it must be established that the death in question was caused by suicide before someone may be penalized for aiding suicide.

In Jamuna Singh v. State of Bihar (A.I.R. 1967 S.C. 553 at 554: 1967 Cri. LJ 541), the completion of the abetment offense occurs when the putative abettor engages in a plot to commit the offense with another person. The act of abetment does not have to be carried out in order for the offense to occur.

When the person accused of committing the crime is found not guilty, the accusation of abetment against him should only fail in cases where the person abetting the crime willfully helped another person do the crime.

Abetment by Conspiracy

A person is said to have helped and abetted the commission of an offense through conspiracy if they make a deal with one or more others to carry out an illegal act or to do something unlawful using illegal means, and some action is then conducted as a result of that deal. A conspiracy is defined as two or more individuals working together to accomplish a common objective. When a criminal conspiracy qualifies as an abetment under S. 107, the requirements of S. 120-A and 120-B are not necessary because the Code has a specific provision for punishing such a conspiracy.

Abetment by Aid

A person is considered to have aided and abetted the commission of a crime if they knowingly provide support or assistance by doing an act or refusing to perform one. Aid cannot be given by intention alone. The act must have been committed in line with some active action that the abettor engaged in. Acts of assistance might include both illicit actions and omissions. If a police officer remains on the scene despite knowing that certain people wil l be tortured to obtain confessions, for example, he may be held liable for aiding in the crime of extortion through an act of omission.

  • The act or omission that qualifies as help must have been done on purpose.

  • The aid must have been offered either before or at the time the offense was aided.


The crime of abetment is founded on the natural justice concept, which stipulates penalties for upholding just and equitable legislation. Jurisprudence dictates that, in addition to the primary perpetrator, the collaborators in the crime must also face punishment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.  What is the difference between abatement and abetment?

Ans. Abetment is defined as "the verbal act of urging on," which is something you do to motivate people to take action. For instance, strained relationships between spouses can help one of them commit suicide. Whereas abatement is the lessening or elimination of a nuisance.

Q2. What is the difference between Abetment and Criminal Conspiracy?

Ans. Abetment is the act of one or more individuals engaging or using another to commit an offense. The individual who aids in the crime is referred to as an "abettor," whereas the person who really conducts the crime is referred to as the "primary offender."

A conspiracy, on the other hand, is a process in which two or more people agree to carry out an unlawful act or perform or commit a legitimate act using an illegal method. The agreement's signatories are referred to as "conspirators."

Q3. Is abetment an inchoate offence?

Ans. An uncompleted crimes are often called "inchoate crimes." The dilemma of whether it is appropriate to punish someone who has caused no damage or to liberate someone who was found guilty of a crime is raised by incomplete criminal actions. Most inchoate offenses were first included in the Indian Penal Code of 1860. For instance, preparing, assisting, conspiring, and attempting

Q4. Is abetment a substantive offence?

Ans. Abetment is a serious offense regardless of the abettor's criminal intent; all that is needed is a simple provocation to commit a crime. The person whose conduct the abettor abets, or the abettee, is not held to the same legal standard.

Updated on: 14-Mar-2023


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