Criminal Conspiracy: Meaning and proof.

Definition of Conspiracy

Section 120A of IPC  defines criminal conspiracy which reads thus:

“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.” Section 120B speaks about punishment of criminal conspiracy.

Agreement of conspiracy

The ingredients of the offence of criminal conspiracy are that there should be an agreement between the persons who are alleged to conspire and the said agreement should be for doing of an illegal act or for doing, by illegal means, an act which by itself may not be illegal. In other words, the essence of criminal conspiracy is an agreement to do an illegal act and such an agreement can be proved either by direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence or by both and in a matter of common experience that direct evidence to prove conspiracy is rarely available.

[Source: Central Bureau of Investigation, Hyderabad vs. K. Narayana Rao (2012) 9 SCC 512]

The object behind the conspiracy is to achieve the ultimate aim of conspiracy. For a charge of conspiracy means knowledge about indulgence in either an illegal act or a legal act by illegal means is necessary. In some cases, intent of unlawful use being made of the goods or services in question may be inferred from the knowledge itself. This apart, the prosecution has not to establish that a particular unlawful use was intended, so long as the goods or service in question could not be put to any lawful use. Finally, when the ultimate offence consists of a chain of actions, it would not be necessary for the prosecution to establish, to bring home the charge of conspiracy, that each of the conspirators had the knowledge of what the collaborator would do.

[Source: CBI vs Anup Kumr Srivastava, decided on  4 August, 2017 by Supreme Court]

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