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What is criminal conspiracy?

What is Criminal Conspiracy?

Chapter VA of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines criminal conspiracy and also describes the punishment of criminal conspiracy.

Section 120A. – Definition of criminal conspiracy – When two or more per­sons agree to do or cause to be done
  1. An illegal act, or
  2. An act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agree­ment is designated a criminal conspiracy:
Provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof.

Explanation:
It is immaterial whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of such agreement, or is merely incidental to that object.

So, criminal conspiracy is said when:
  • Two or more person agree (maybe express or implied, or in the part express and partly implied) to do or cause to be done
    • an illegal act, (as illegal defined under section 43 of IPC, 1860) or
    • an act which is not illegal in itself but is done by illegal means (like selling of wine is not illegal but selling wine in the black market makes that act illegal), such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.
       
  • Provided that:
    • An agreement to commit an offence shall be a criminal conspiracy, and
    • No agreement shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof.
      So, agreement + some action (like planning, meeting etc.) in pursuance thereof, constitutes a criminal conspiracy.
       
  • It is immaterial whether the illegal act is:
    • The ultimate object of such agreement or
    • Is merely incidental to that object.

Essential ingredients of the offence of criminal conspiracy:

In the case of R. Venkatakrishnan vs Central Bureau Of Investigation, the supreme court laid down the essential ingredients of criminal conspiracy, which are the following
  1. An agreement (between two or more persons)
  2. The agreement must relate to doing or causing to be done either:
    1. An illegal act, or
    2. An act that is not illegal in itself but is done by illegal means.

The agreement maybe express or implied, or in the part express and partly implied.
  • As soon as the agreement is made, the conspiracy arises and the offence is committed and the offence continues to be committed so long as the combination persists, that is until the conspirational agreement is terminated.
  • To prove a criminal conspiracy which is punishable under section 120B, there must be direct or circumstantial evidence to show that there was an agreement between two or more persons to commit an offence.
In the case of, State (N.C.T. Of Delhi) vs Navjot Sandhu, the accused was not held guilty of conspirator based on the intention of accused which was different from conspirator and also he never contacted the deceased terrorist on place or previously.

Difference between Section 107 and 120A, of IPC 1860

In section 107 for offence, abetment of a thing is required whereas in section 120A for offence, an act of planning or agreement to do an illegal act is required.

Difference between section 34 and section 120A, of IPC 1860:

  1. For applicability of section 34, active participation of offenders is necessary for an offence whereas for applicability of section 120A, no active participation of offenders is necessary for an offence.
  2. For applicability of section 34, an act done in pursuance of common intention is necessary whereas for applicability of section 120A, an act done in pursuance of intention is not necessary but the only intention is itself is enough to commit an offence.
     

Section 120B Punishment of criminal conspiracy

  1. Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, 2[imprisonment for life] or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.
     
  2. Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both.
So, if any party of a criminal conspiracy commit an offence that is punishable with:
  1. Death, or
  2. Imprisonment of life, or
  3. Rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards,
And there no express provision is made for the punishment of such conspiracy then the party will be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.

Or, if the offence is punishable not above punishment then such conspiracy shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both.

Section 196(2) of CrPC, 1973 No Court shall take cognizance of the offence of any criminal conspiracy punishable under section 120B of the Indian Penal code (45 of 1860 ), other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards unless the State Government or the District Magistrate has consented in writing to the initiation of the proceedings: Provided that where the criminal conspiracy is one to which the provisions of section 195 apply, no such consent shall be necessary.

In the case of Major E. G. Barsay vs The State Of Bombay AIR 1961, it was said that it is not necessary for criminal conspiracy that every person participate in every act of series, a person is liable also if he did any act in such act of series.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Jagpravesh Singh
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: MA112544730223-05-521

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