This Article is written by Rahul Negi, pursuing B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) from Law College Dehradun (Uttaranchal University). The article discusses the meaning of a Criminal conspiracy, its essential elements and scope.
The Criminal conspiracy means an agreement between two or more persons to perform any illegal act or legal act with illegal means or intentions.
The term criminal conspiracy is defined under Section 120 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as “when two or more persons agree to commit any illegal act which will harm other person or commit any legal action by using unlawful/illegal means then it will be considered as an agreement which amounts to the criminal conspiracy”.
Any agreement which has been made to commit any offence or illegal act will come into the parameter of criminal conspiracy. The agreement is made to conspire for the commission of an illegal act which will ultimately harm the other person. An act that is legal in nature but the means used to perform that action is illegal then the act will come under the umbrella of illegal acts. The punishment for criminal conspiracy is given under section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The section says that whosoever is a part of a criminal conspiracy which leads to the commission of an offence will be punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or rigorous imprisonment for two years or more. Here, the punishment to the conspirators will be given in the same manner as the abetment was done by them. The people who are the party of some other criminal conspiracy for any other illegal act or offence will be punished for the imprisonment which may extend up to six months with or without fine.
The term conspiracy means the secret plotting of the illegal activities by a group (two or more persons) with common intention and knowledge of the act to be committed. The persons involved in the conspiracy are called the conspirators. Conspiracy, unlike other offences, is an act which does not require an action to be completed, the mere intention is enough to constitute this crime. Therefore, to constitute the offence of conspiracy there must be an agreement between the conspirators with common an intention to commit such act. Moreover, if someone is involved in the commission of act without the knowledge he/she cannot be booked as a conspirator.
The basic ingredients which constitute Criminal Conspiracy are-
1) There must be two or more persons.
2) An agreement between the parties to commit any illegal activity.
3) The agreement must be based on some illegal act, which they have to commit or agrees to do so.
4) The act can be lawful or legal but the means must be illegal.
SCOPE OF CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
The criminal conspiracy is based on secret planning to commit an illegal act by two or more persons. A single person cannot constitute this offence, and one of the basic needs of this agreement is having two or more persons only then conspiracy can take place. Common Intention and meeting of the minds of all the conspirators are also necessary. This is preventive in nature, and the scope of this act is limited to agreement and meeting of minds of all the conspirators regarding any particular offence.
MEANING IN INDIAN LAW
- Indian Penal Code 1860
Section 120 A
This section of defines criminal conspiracy as when two or more persons agree to compel another person for performing any particular act which is illegal in nature or they use any illegal means for the same will amount to Criminal Conspiracy.
The word illegal is defined under section 43 of Indian Penal Code, where any offence, or any act which is prohibited by law or any act which amounts to civil action or any person who is legally bound to perform any action but he refused to perform the same, then all of these acts will be considered as illegal.
The proviso of Section 120 A says that any agreement which is made for the commission of any illegal act or offence will be considered as criminal conspiracy and also an offence which is punishable under Section 120 B. However, if any agreement is made or conspires for any other activities then it will not amount to criminal conspiracy until any overt act is done by the person. Meeting of minds of all the participants or conspirators is necessary only then they will be liable for an offence.
Here, the object of such an agreement is immaterial.
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Jagdish Joshi v. the State of Maharashtra held that for the existence of criminal conspiracy the meeting of minds of two or more parties is essential. But, this criminal conspiracy is made secretly to prove that it can be done directly with the help of evidence or in some cases, it can be proved with evidence indirectly.
- The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
This section is based upon the admissibility of evidence against conspirators. This section talks about the acts which have been said or done by the conspirators where the common intention is involved. Under this section, it is said that, when two or more persons conspired to commit any illegal act or any offence which is punishable under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, there must be some sufficient grounds to believe or anything which is said, written or done by any of the conspirators will be considered as a relevant fact against all of the conspirators and it will also support that some conspiracy took place between the alleged conspirators.
The Apex Court in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Som Nath Thapa held that to conspire a person must have the knowledge of the act and the intention to assist or conduct illegal acts.
- Indian Penal Code 1860
This section deals with the punishment of criminal conspiracy which says that whoever is a part of a criminal conspiracy commits an offence which is punishable with the death penalty, life imprisonment or any rigorous imprisonment for the time period of two or more years. In such a case, the parties involved in the conspiracy will be punishable as they had abetted such offence.
If any person who is a party in conspiracy other than the parties mentioned in Section 120 B:-
(1) shall be punished for the imprisonment of six months or with fine or with both.
The Apex Court in case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. Kandimalla Subbaiah held that element of abetment may be present in the conspiracy, but the conspiracy is more than abetment. Thus, there is no analogy between conspiracy and abetment.
- Defence of Withdrawal
For this defence, accused must prove that he has affirmatively conveyed to other conspirators about his withdrawal. The withdrawal must be before the commission of the illegal act. the accused after his withdrawal too aid conspirators then this defence ceases.
- Defence of Entrapment
For this defence, accused must prove that he was inveigled by the officer otherwise before that the accused did not have any such intention.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABETMENT AND CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
|1.||Section 120 A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, defines criminal conspiracy as if there is an agreement between two or more persons who agree to commit any illegal act or a legal act by illegal means is termed as Criminal Conspiracy.||According to Section 107 of Indian Penal Code 1960, abetment takes place when any person abets someone for doing any act by-
a.) Insisting that person to do or commit
b.) Engaged that person with some other person(s) in a conspiracy of committing some offence or act
c.) Provide aid to that person which will ultimately help that person to perform his desired act.
|2.||Basically, it is an act or plans to commit some illegal act or offence by all the persons or any of them.||This is the act where a person instigates someone to commit some illegal act or provide aid for the same.|
|3.||This is a substantive offence||Abetment is not a substantive offence|
|4.||The punishment for criminal conspiracy is defined under section 120B of IPC.||Offences of Abetment are dealt with under section 109 of Indian Penal Code.|
|5.||The offence of conspiracy is cognizable or non- cognizable, bailable or non- bailable.||And Abetment is also cognizable, non- cognizable, bailable or non- bailable.|
|6.||Here two or more persons are required to make it a conspiracy.||Whereas, abetment can be committed by any single or more persons.|
Conspiracy is clandestine planning through an agreement by two or more persons with the intention and knowledge to commit an illegal act. Under Indian laws, the offence of criminal conspiracy is a punishable offence with death, imprisonment for life, or rigorous imprisonment for two or more years. Thus, the punishment to conspirators will be awarded in the same way as for the abetment of offence. The main essential to constitute offence of criminal conspiracy is the presence of common intention among the conspirators. The defence against the offence of conspiracy can be either defence of withdrawal or the defence of entrapment. Nevertheless, the element of abetment may be present in conspiracy, but the conspiracy is more than abetment. Thus there is no analogy between conspiracy and abetment.
- Jagdish Joshi V. State of Maharashtra (2008) 10 SCC 394
- State of Maharashtra v. Som Nath Thapa (1996) 4 SCC 659
- State of Andhra Pradesh v. Kandimalla Subbaiah AIR 1961 SC 1241
- Criminal Conspiracy- Meaning, Nature and Scope
- Criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code
- Criminal Conspiracy