Criminal conspiracy and its ingredients

ABSTRACT

Criminal conspiracy one of the most discussed topic in the legal field. In this article, we will try to analyze the criminal conspiracy in-depth also try to discuss every possible question that arises in the mind of a person while reading this article. A criminal conspiracy was discussed in section 120 –A of IPC punishment for the same was given under section 120 –B Criminal conspiracy according to section 120 –A of IPC is as follow:

• When two or more person agrees to do or cause to be done,

• An illegal act or An act which is not illegal but 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 criminal conspiracy unless some act is done by the person in pursuance of that agreement. It is immaterial whether the illegal act is ultimate or incidental. Now to understand the statutory meaning of criminal conspiracy in a better way we have to highlight some of the important pointers from it so that become easy to understand it.

In the above mention paragraph, we have highlighted some of the pointers and in this paragraph, we will discuss those pointers in brief because they are essential elements of criminal conspiracy.

one of the most important thing in the criminal conspiracy is that there has to be two or more person because as we all know that one cannot conspire about the things to himself there has to be two or more person to conspired about something. It was held in the state of H.P vs Krishan lal that the criminal conspiracy consists in a meeting of minds of two or more person for agreeing to do or causing to done an illegal act or an act which is not illegal but by illegal means.







Definition of ‘Conspiracy’

The offence of criminal conspiracy is defined under Section 120-A of Chapter V-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. According to Section 120-A, when two or more persons come together and agree to do, or cause something to be done, which constitutes an illegal act or a legal act carried forward by illegal means, such persons would be guilty of the commission of the offence of criminal conspiracy. In simpler terms, conspiracy refers to the meeting of minds for the commission of an offence. However, no such agreement would constitute the offence of criminal conspiracy, unless and until an act is performed in furtherance of such an agreement. The explanation attached to Section 120-A makes it clear that it is immaterial whether the illegal act committed in furtherance of such an agreement, is the focal point of the agreement or, is merely incidental to the performance of the ultimate goal of the agreement.

Relevant legal provisions

The relevant legal provisions under the Indian Penal Code which deal with the offence of criminal conspiracy are as follows:

• Section 120A and Section 120B which deal with conspiracy as a substantive offence, i.e., an act, which in itself constitutes as a crime, and a punishment for the same;

• Section 107, which deals with conspiracy as it being a form of abetment;

• Section 121A which deals with an act constituting an offence of conspiracy to wage, attempt to, or abet war against the Government of India;

• Section 310, Section 311, Section 400, Section 401 and Section 402, which deal with conspiracy as constituting involvement in the commission of an offence.

Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy

Section 120-B prescribes the punishment for the commission of the crime of criminal conspiracy. According to Section 120-B, if the parties involved in the conspiracy, conspired to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or more, shall be punishable in the same manner as if he/she had abetted the commission of such an offence, if no explicit punishment for the commission of such a conspiracy has been provided for, by the Code. However, if the parties involved in the conspiracy, conspired to commit an offence punishable with terms not prescribed previously, such persons shall be sentenced to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine, or both.


Salient features

Some of the salient features to constitute an offence of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, are as follows:

• There must be two or more person involved in the commission of the offence of criminal conspiracy.

• There must be an agreement between the parties.

• Such an agreement must be for the commission of an illegal act or the commission of a legal act by illegal means.

• When the agreement is for the commission of a legal act by illegal means, an overt act must have been carried out by the parties in furtherance of the same, and the mere agreement is not sufficient to establish the commission of the crime.

• The parties must be aware of the illegal object or the illegal means, for the agreement to constitute as a criminal conspiracy. [i]

• The crime of criminal conspiracy is an incomplete or inchoate crime, which needs an additional substantive offence complementing it, to constitute as a crime punishable under the Code.

• Criminal Conspiracy does not take place when the parties involved are husband and wife, of minor age, or is the person against whom the offence was sought to be committed.

Landmark judgments

It is very pertinent by now that the scope of crime and conspiracy is ever-growing and will always be open for various interpretations. The offence of criminal conspiracy can be sometimes challenging and complex in its application by the judiciary since the “art” of scheming is mostly always carried out in secrecy. Since its inception, there have been various landmark cases that showcase the interpretation by the courts in ascertaining the offence in its truest form.

Topan Das v.State of Orissa, AIR 1956 SC 33

The court in the aforementioned case stated that it is an established rule of the law that only one person cannot conspire and that there should be at least two persons for the same, and can be never be held guilty of criminal conspiracy since one cannot conspire with oneself.

B. Narsimha Rao v. Govt. of A.P

In this case, the appellant was convicted of an offence of criminal conspiracy along with seven others. However, he alone was charged with offences under Ss. 120-B, 409 and 471, IPC under section 5(1)(c) and 5(l)(d) read with section 5(2) of the prevention of corruption Act, 1947. Simultaneously, all the other co-conspirators were acquitted by the Trial Court and the High Court. In the end, the Supreme Court acquitted the accused on the facts that there had to be another person to communicate with and carry out the agreement and that a single person can never be accounted.

Essential Ingredients :

The ingredients of Section 120A(Criminal Conspiracy), of Indian Penal Code are as follows :


1) There should be two or more persons


2) There should be Agreement between them


3) Agreement must be to to or cause to be done, an illegal act; or


4) The act may not be illegal but is done by illegal means.

Conclusion

The offence of criminal conspiracy is an exception to the general rule that in order to constitute a crime, both mens rea and actus rea must be involved, here merely guilty mind is sufficient to render a person guilty if the agreement was to commit an illegal act. However, an act, or actus reus becomes essential again if the object of the agreement was to do a lawful act by unlawful means. The criminal conspiracy can be inferred from the surrounding circumstances and the conduct of the suspected or the accused person. A person found to be guilty of criminal conspiracy, is punished under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This Section of the Code, is slowly losing its essence and there is a need to ensure that due diligence is maintained in cases of criminal conspiracy to propagate true manifestation of the law and justice. The well-established principle of criminal law, ‘fouler the crime, higher the proof required’ must be kept in mind, and the sanctity of law upheld.

Essential Ingredients :

The ingredients of Section 120A(Criminal Conspiracy), of Indian Penal Code are as follows :


1) There should be two or more persons


2) There should be Agreement between them


3) Agreement must be to to or cause to be done, an illegal act; or


4) The act may not be illegal but is done by illegal means.


Credit: chetna verma

Clg name: Rajasthan university, Rajasthan, jaipur

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