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Updated: Dec 13, 2020


B. Sandeep Harish, III year B.A., LL.B., The Central Law College, Salem


Section 120-A of the Indian penal code says about the criminal conspiracy. The criminal conspiracy, when two or more person agrees to cause to be done or to do,

1. An illegal act or

2. An act which is not illegal but by illegal means, such agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.

Provide that no agreement except an agreement to commit offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless an act is done by the person in pursuance of the agreement. It is immaterial whether the illegal act is incidental or ultimate. The statutory meaning of criminal conspiracy in the better way we need to highlight any of the important pointers from it so that it may be easy to understand it.

Two or more persons

The main important thing in the criminal conspiracy is that there have to be two or more persons because we all know that one cannot conspire about the things to himself there was to be two or more persons to conspire about something. It has been held that the State of H.P vs. Krishan Lal[i] that the criminal conspiracy consists of a meeting of minds of two or more persons to agree to do or cause to do an illegal act or an act which is not illegal but by illegal means.

Can there is the conviction of one only

The question is what if only one out of two or three convicted is caught can the court make punished for criminal conspiracy because we know that is mandatory to have minimum two-person, at first there the rule that there is no punishment if only one convict is found but the later cases of Bimbadhar Pradhan vs. State of Orissa[ii], in this case, the court held that the convict only one person base on sufficient evidence of the criminal conspiracy. An important point to be noted is that in pursuance of crime there are several small crimes committed then all of them will be convicted for the same.

Illegal act

To constitute the offence under the section there must be an agreement to do an act which is contrary to or forbidden by law. It may note that it is illegal to conspire with another to commit an act which may not be a crime if done alone. The important motive of the section is to make even the basic stage of the crime punishable.

Illegal means

An agreement to do an act which may not be illegal but the means to do an act is unlawful is punishable under the section. The end does not justify the mean, for example, a man wanted to marry the girl but the girl doesn’t like him, he tries to abduct the girl forcefully, here the motive of the man is legal but the way means to commit an act make it punishable.

Over act

To understand the word, overact firstly we have to analyze section 43 and 120-A of the IPC. The word ‘illegal’ is applied to everything which is an offence or which is prohibited by law, or offence or which is prohibited by law, or which furnish ground for civil action.

Given under section 120

An agreement to commit an offence is punishable under the section. Therefore the agreement to commit an offence is a crime itself but if there is an agreement for any of the other two the overact is needed to make the agreement punishable under the section. In short, to make any conspiracy a crime you need an agreement to commit an offence but there is any other agreement then there has to be some overact in pursuance of that.

How to prove conspiracy

It was believed the meeting or agreement of minds is the one of the important evidence to prove the conspiracy under the section and also it is one of the hardest one to prove because we all known to the fact that the offender by himself does not agree to a fact that he is involved with someone it is only some matter of circumstance that one can be proved that there is a meeting of minds or an agreement between those two, in short, we can say the criminal conspiracy it is based on circumstantial evidence in most of the cases there is no direct evidence to prove the same. And also, point to be noted that there is no conspiracy between wife and husband because they are considered as the one person.

Sting operation as an evidence of a conspiracy

There is a long going controversy related admissibility of a sting operation as evidence the general question which arises in acceptance of the sting operation is whether it is a self-motivated or public interest motivated because it was believed the self-motivated sting operation does not allow the supreme court shed the light on this controversy in which it held that it was a court to decide whether the sting operation was public interest or self-motivated after the full-fledged trial.

Punishment under section 120-B

The punishment of criminal conspiracy under section 120-B. there was nothing like to discuss in the topic it is given in very easy words that when there is a conspiracy related to an offence punishable with imprisonment for life, rigorous punishment for two years and death also there shall be no express provision about it is mention in the code in those circumstance offenders were treated as like they abetted the same offence on the other hand in above topics it covers all the conspiracy other than a mention in above topics all conspiracies that are covered in above topics shall be punishable with imprisonment for six months or fine or with both.


A conspiracy cannot be done individually, according to the Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code at least two persons are essential for illegal agreement and everyone is equally liable for each other’s act. Mere engagement to do an illegal act is an offence. For the liability the actual commission of an act is not necessary. The liability is based on the illegal agreement.

[i] AIR 1987 SC 773 [ii] 1956 AIR 469


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