Criminal conspiracy refers to an illegal agreement between two or more individuals to carry out an unlawful act or a lawful act through illegal means.
It is a criminal offense and is defined under Section 120A of the Indian Penal Code. In this article, we will explore the key elements of criminal conspiracy under IPC, its punishment, and a real-life case study involving this offense.
What is Criminal Conspiracy?
Criminal conspiracy refers to an agreement between two or more individuals to commit an illegal act or to carry out a lawful act through illegal means.
To be considered a criminal conspiracy under the IPC, the agreement must have the following elements:
- There must be an agreement between two or more individuals
- The agreement must be to do or cause to be done either an unlawful act or a lawful act through illegal means.
Elements of Criminal Conspiracy
- Two or More Must Agree: There must be an agreement between two or more individuals to conduct an illegal act to establish the charge of conspiracy. This agreement can be inferred from the facts of the case, and it is not necessary to prove that the individuals had a direct encounter or came together in each other’s presence.
- Illegal Act: To be charged with criminal conspiracy, the agreement must be to carry out an illegal act under the law. A contract that is against public policy or otherwise of a nature that the courts will not enforce is not necessarily illegal.
- Illegal Means: Criminal conspiracy is defined as an agreement to commit a lawful act through illegal means. The end does not justify the means.
- Overt Act: An overt act, as opposed to a mere intention to commit a crime, can be proven by evidence and inferred from criminal intent.
Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy
Criminal conspiracy is punishable under Section 120B of the IPC. The punishment for individuals who are part of a criminal conspiracy for crimes that are punishable by life imprisonment, death, or rigorous imprisonment for two years or more is the same as if the individual had aided and abetted the crime.
In other cases, the punishment for individuals who are part of a criminal conspiracy is six months of imprisonment, a fine, or both.
Case Study Involving Criminal Conspiracy – Indira Gandhi Assassination Case
The Indira Gandhi Assassination case is an example of a real-life case involving criminal conspiracy under the IPC. The background of the case is that in June 1984, the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, led an army operation known as Operation Blue Star.
The operation aimed to clear out terrorists hiding in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar who was conspiring against India. The terrorists belonged to Khalistan, a group of ultra-radicalized Sikhs who sought a separate homeland for Sikhs. The operation resulted in the death of all the militants and the loss of many lives and property. It also caused damage to the Akal Takht in the Golden Temple Complex, which further outraged Sikh sensitivities.
The disgruntled Sikhs publicly expressed their displeasure with Indira Gandhi and protested against her. Eventually, two of her Sikh bodyguards assassinated her in October 1984. The case involving the assassination of Indira Gandhi involved a criminal conspiracy and is a prime example of the consequences of such an agreement under the IPC.
In conclusion, criminal conspiracy refers to an illegal agreement between two or more individuals to carry out an unlawful act or a lawful act through illegal means.
The key elements of criminal conspiracy under the IPC include an agreement between two or more individuals, the agreement must be to do or cause to be done either an unlawful act or a lawful act through illegal means, and there must be an overt act.
Anyone who participates in a criminal conspiracy to do an act punishable by death or imprisonment for two years or more is punished in the same manner as if he had supported the commission of such an offence where there is no clear provision for the punishment of such a conspiracy.
Whether or not a crime is bailable depends on the type of crime for which criminal conspiracy was committed.
The definition of “illegal” in Section 43 of the IPC is:
-An offence Prohibited by law
-gives rise to a civil responsibility
In section 107, there is no act, but there was an instigation to commit an offence or to provide support to an instigated person, but in section 120-a, there is an act of planning to execute an illegal act.
Section 120A of the Indian Penal Code defines criminal conspiracy as a crime (IPC). It describes a deal between two or more people to carry out a legal act illegally or a lawful act illegally.
The IPC defines criminal conspiracy as having the following elements:
-A pact reached between two or more people
-The agreement must be to carry out a prohibited act or to carry out an authorised act in an impermissible manner.
An arrest without a warrant can be made by a police officer since criminal conspiracy is a cognizable offence.
According to the IPC, criminal conspiracy is punishable by up to six months in prison, a fine, or both.
There are no exceptions to the IPC’s definition of criminal conspiracy.
Yes, a business can be charged with criminal conspiracy under the IPC if it makes a deal with another business or person to carry out an unlawful act or a legal act in an unlawful manner.
A person can be found guilty of criminal conspiracy even if the unlawful act was not carried out, hence the answer is yes. For a conviction, only an agreement to carry out an illegal act is required.
Is it required for everyone involved to be there at the same time and location for there to be a criminal conspiracy?
No, it is not required for everyone involved in a criminal conspiracy to be present at the same time and location. It suffices if the conspirators share the same desire to carry out an unlawful act.
If a person is a party to the arrangement and takes part in the commission of the illegal conduct, they may be charged with both criminal conspiracy and the illegal act.
If a person didn’t know their actions were illegal, can they still be charged with criminal conspiracy?
No, a person cannot be accused of criminal conspiracy if they were not aware that the act was unlawful. A person must have awareness of the act’s illegality and have entered into the arrangement with the purpose to commit it in order to be found guilty of criminal conspiracy.