The original Indian Penal Code did not have an offence by the name of criminal conspiracy. However the need to have this offence was felt later on and this chapter V-A relating to criminal conspiracy with only two sections in it i.e. section: 120-A which provides definition of criminal conspiracy and Sec. 120-B providing its punishment was added in IPC by the Criminal Law Amendment act 1913.
Definition of Criminal conspiracy under Sec.120-A
When two or more persons agree to do or cause to be done
An illegal Act
An act which is not illegal but when it is done by illegal means.
Such an agreement is designated/made a criminal conspiracy.
There shall be minimum two or more person.
Agree for illegal act. The expression ‘ illegal’ has been defined in Sec.43 of the code. According to this section, the word illegal is applicable to everything :
Which is an offence
Which is prohibited by law
Which is furnishes ground for a civil action
Act is done by illegal means.
Further 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 he illegal act is the ultimate object of such agreement or is merely incidental to that object. In other words, the conspirator is guilty of criminal conspiracy; whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of the agreement or it is merely incidental to the object of the agreement. The law does not treat these cases differently.
Case : Mohd. Usman v/s State 1981 : In this case the accused persons were selling explosive substances without valid license for a very long time. The SC held that they were guilty of criminal conspiracy, as they had been doing this for a very long time, which could not have been possible without an agreement between then, and this agreement was proved by necessary implication.
ILLUSTRATION: ‘A’ the wife of ‘B’ had illicit connection with ‘C’, who wanted to murder ‘B’. Instead of telling B that C waned to murder him, told C that B would go to lonely place on a particular day & time. C murdered B at that particular place, date and time. Thus A and C both are guilty of the offence of criminal conspiracy. C is also guilty of adultery and murder.
Conviction Of A Single Person For Criminal Conspiracy
An important question arises whether a single individual can be held guilty of this offence. For criminal conspiracy, there ‘must’ be at-least two persons. Thus the section only says that agreement must be between two or more persons and not that the connection must be of at-least two persons.
ILLUSTRATION :- Where the prosecution case is that, four : persons had entered into an agreement to commit murder of ‘Z’ and out of these four one is ‘D’ without a shadow of doubt. The other three might be A,B and C or might not be A,B and C because the evidence against them is doubtly. In such case, since two things are certain the member of conspirators was four and one of these four was definitely “D’ thus D alone is guilty of criminal conspiracy.
Case : B.H. Narasimha Rao V/s Govt. Of A.P 1995 The accused was charged for committing an offence in conspiracy with seven other who were al acquitted. It was held that the accused could not be convicted under section 120-B on the mere ground that he was head of a section of he branch where the fraud was alleged to have been committed.
Section 120-B : Punishment of criminal conspiracy: Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years of upwards shall, where were no express provision is made in this code for punishment of such conspiracy, be punished in he same manner as if he had abetted of such offence.
Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six month or with fine or with both.