Criminal Conspiracy; 10 Important Supreme Court of India Judgments

Section 120A of the IPC defines criminal conspiracy in following way:- Even two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done i) An illegal act or ii) An act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated criminal conspiracy.

Provided that no agreement except an agreement to a criminal conspiracy unless same 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 making incidental to that object.

# Criminal Conspiracy Case Laws

# 1. Gulam Sarbar v. State of Bihar (Now Jharkand), 2014 Cri.L.J. 34

The essential ingredients of Criminal Conspiracy are (i) an agreement between two or more persons; (ii) agreement must relate to doing or causing to be done either (a) an illegal act; or (b) an act which is not illegal in itself but is done by illegal means. What is, therefore, necessary is to show meeting of minds of two or more persons for doing or causing to be done an illegal act or an act by illegal means.

Mere knowledge or discussion or generation of a crime in the mind of the accused, is not sufficient to constitute an offence. The offence takes place with the meeting of minds even if nothing further is done. It is an offence independent of other offences and punishable separately. Thus, the prosecution is required to establish the offence by applying the same legal principles which are otherwise applicable for the purpose of proving criminal misconduct on the part of an accused.

Criminal conspiracy is generally hatched in secrecy thus direct evidence is difficult to obtain or access. The offence can be proved by adducing circumstantial evidence or by necessary implication. Meeting of minds to form a criminal conspiracy has to be proved by adducing substantive evidence in cases where circumstantial evidence is incomplete or vague.

The gist of the offence of conspiracy then lies, not in doing the act, or effecting the purpose for which the conspiracy is formed, nor in attempting to do them between the parties. Agreement is essential.

# 2. Mohmed Amin @ Amin Choteli Rahim Miyan Shaikh v. CBI, (2008) 15 SCC 49

In order to come under this provision it is not necessary for the accused to know the detailed stages of conspiracy; mere knowledge of main object/ purpose of the conspiracy would suffice for this Section.

# 3. Vikram Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2010 SC 1007

Apex Court dealt with a case where the accused had purchased fortwin injection and chloroform. Thus, it was held that since the purchase of these materials was an initial step towards commission of offence, the presence of co-accused Sonia, though not referred to by the witnesses at the time of actual kidnapping would not imply that she was not privy to conspiracy and conviction of the accused under Section 120-B IPC was upheld.

# 4. State v. Om Prakash Srivastava @ Bablooas, 2015 Cr.L.J 4759

A conspiracy ordinarily is hatched in secrecy. The Court for the purpose of arriving at a finding as to whether the said offence has been committed or not may take into consideration the circumstantial evidence. However, while doing so, it must be borne in mind that meeting of mind is essential; mere knowledge or discussion would not be sufficient.

# 5. Subhash v. State of Haryana, (2015) 12 SCC 444

To make out the offence under Section 120-B of IPC, the prosecution must lead evidence to prove the existence of some agreement between the accused persons. There is no specific evidence as to where and when the conspiracy was hatched and what was the specific purpose of such conspiracy. No such evidence has been adduced in the present case. Therefore the conviction and sentence of the appellants have to be set aside.

# 6. Devender Pal Singh v. State N.C.T of Delhi, 2002 Cr.L.J 2035

The element of a criminal conspiracy have been stated to be: (a) an object to be accomplished, (b) a plan or scheme embodying means to accomplish that object, (c) an agreement or understanding between two or more of the accused persons whereby they become definitely committed to co-operate for the accomplishment of the object by the means embodied in the agreement, or by any effectual means, (d) in the jurisdiction where the statute required an overt act.

The essence of a criminal conspiracy is the unlawful combination and ordinarily the offence is complete when the combination is framed. From this, it necessarily follows that unless the statute so requires, no overt act need be done in furtherance of the conspiracy, and that the object of the combination need not be accomplished, in order to constitute an indictable offence.

Law making conspiracy a crime is designed to curb immoderate power to do mischief which is gained by a combination of the means. The encouragement and support which co-conspirators give to one another rendering enterprises possible which, if left to individual effort, would have been impossible, furnish the ground for visiting conspirators and abettors with condign punishment.

The conspiracy is held to be continued and renewed as to all its members wherever and whenever any member of the conspiracy acts in furtherance of the common design.

See Also : American Jurisprudence Vol. II Section 23, p. 559

For an offence punishable under Section 120B, prosecution need not necessarily prove that the perpetrators expressly agree to do or cause to be done illegal act; the agreement may be proved by necessary implication. Offence of criminal conspiracy has its foundation in an agreement to commit an offence.

A conspiracy consists not merely in the intention of two or more, but in the agreement of two or more to do an unlawful act by unlawful means. So long as such a design rests in intention only, it is not indictable. When two agree to carry it into effect, the very plot is an act in itself, and an act of each of the parties, promise against promise, actus contra actum, capable of being enforced, if lawful, punishable if for a criminal object or for use of criminal means.

No doubt in the case of conspiracy there cannot be any direct evidence. The ingredients of offence are that there should be an agreement between persons who are alleged to conspire and the said agreement should be for doing an illegal act or for doing illegal means an act which itself may not be illegal.

Therefore, 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 it is a matter of common experience that direct evidence to prove conspiracy is rarely available. Therefore, the circumstances proved before, during and after the occurrence have to be considered to decide about the complicity of the accused.

# 7. Chandra Prakash v. State of Rajasthan, 2014 Cr.L.J. 2884

While dealing with the facet of criminal conspiracy, it has to be kept in mind that in case of a conspiracy, there cannot be any direct evidence. Express agreement between the parties cannot be proved. Circumstances proved before, during and after the occurrence have to be considered to decide about the complicity of the accused. Such a conspiracy is never hatched in open and, therefore, evaluation of proved circumstances play a vital role in establishing the criminal conspiracy.

# 8. Yogesh @ Sachin Jagdish Joshi v. State of Maharashtra, (2008) 10 SCC 394

The basic ingredients of the offence of criminal conspiracy are: (i) an agreement between two or more persons; (ii) the agreement must relate to doing or causing to be done either (a) an illegal act; or (b) an act which is not illegal in itself but is done by illegal means. It is, therefore, plain that meeting of minds of two or more persons for doing or causing to be done an illegal act or an act by illegal means is sine qua non of criminal conspiracy.

# 9. Shivnarayan Laxminarayan Joshi v. State of Maharashtra, (1980) 2 SCC 465

A conspiracy is always hatched in secrecy and it is impossible to adduce direct evidence of the common intention of the conspirators. Therefore, the meeting of minds of the conspirators can be inferred from the circumstances proved by the prosecution, if such inference is possible.

# 10. Yakub Abdul Razak Menon v. The State of Maharashtra, through CBI, Bombay, 2013 (3) SCALE 565

For an offence Under Section 120B Indian Penal Code, the prosecution need not necessarily prove that the conspirators expressly agreed to do or cause to be done the illegal act, the agreement may be proved by necessary implication. It is not necessary that each member of the conspiracy must know all the details of the conspiracy.

The offence can be proved largely from the inferences drawn from the acts or illegal omission committed by the conspirators in pursuance of a common design. Being a continuing offence, if any acts or omissions which constitute an offence are done in India or outside its territory, the conspirators continuing to be the parties to the conspiracy and since part of the acts were done in India, they would obviate the need to obtain the sanction of the Central Government.

All of them need not be present in India nor continue to remain in India. The entire agreement must be viewed as a whole and it has to be ascertained as to what in fact the conspirators intended to do or the object they wanted to achieve.

Other Important Case Laws

  1. Pratapbhai Hamirbhai Solanki v. State of Gujarat, (2013) 1 SCC 613
  2. S. Arul Raja v. State of T.N., (2010) 8 SCC 233
  3. R. Venkatkrishnan v. CBI, AIR 2010 SC 1812
  4. Mir Nagvi Askari v. CBI, AIR 2010 SC 528
  5. State of M.P. v.Sheetla Sahai & Ors., (2009) 8 SCC 617
  6. Baldev Singh v. State of Punjab, (2009) 6 SCC 564
  7. State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu @ Afsan Guru, AIR 2005 SC 3820
  8. Kehar Singh v. State (Delhi Admn.), AIR 1988 SC 1883
  9. Mohammad Usman Mohammad Hussain Maniyar v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1981 SC 1062
  10. Lennart Schussler v. Director of Enforcement, (1970) 1 SCC 152
  11. R.K. Dalmia v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1962 SC 1821

See Also : Dinbandhu Singh Vs. State of Bihar [Patna High Court, 25-11-2016]