Understanding Criminal Conspiracy

To prove criminal conspiracy, the prosecution provide evidence to prove that:

1. The accused agreed to the act or caused it to act;

2. The Act was unlawful or done in illegal ways as defined under the IPC;

3. Whether any overt act was done by any one of the accused in pursuance of the same.

Under Sec. 120A of the IPC, the offense of criminal conspiracy is an exception to the criminal law when intent alone does not constitute a crime. It is the intention to commit a crime and to join hands with individuals with the same intention which is taken into consideration. An agreement has to be made to carry the object of intent. It would not suffice for a crime of conspiracy when some of the accused merely entertained a will, whatever it may be, reduced the crime.

An allegation of conspiracy may prejudice the prosecutors because it compels them into a joint trial and the court may consider the entire mass of evidence against each accused. It is stated that a criminal conspiracy is a partnership in a crime, and that each conspiracy has a joint or mutual agency for the prosecution of a shared arrangement. Thus, if two or more persons enter into a conspiracy, any act done by either of them according to the agreement is in contemplation of the law. This would be an act of each of them and they are therefore jointly responsible. This means that everything written or done by any conspirator in a general-purpose execution or further conspiracy is said to be known, done or written by them. And this joint responsibility is not only carried out by any conspirator pursuing the original agreement, but also to end the incident and move beyond it for the original purpose. A conspirator is not responsible, however, for acts committed by a co-conspirator after the plot is concluded. The joining of a plot by a new member does not create a new conspiracy nor does it change the status of other conspirators, and the mere fact that conspiracies carry out different actions individually or in groups to a common end. It would not divide a conspiracy into several different conspiracies.

A criminal conspiracy is a meeting in the minds of two or more individuals to commit an unlawful act that is non-qualified legally, but it is not possible to prove it by direct evidence. Therefore, the conspiracy and its purpose can be understood from the surrounding circumstances and the conduct of the accused. Furthermore, it is also relevant to note that the plot continues until it is executed or saved or frustrated by the choice of necessity. It is not necessary that all conspirators agree to the general objective at the same time. They can join with other conspirators at any time before the intended purpose is consumed, and all are equally responsible. Everyone may not know which part each conspirator has to play or the fact that when a conspirator joined the conspiracy and left. A person can be involved in a conspiracy by word or deed. However, criminal responsibility for a plot requires more than a passive approach to an existing conspiracy. An overworker with knowledge of the conspiracy is guilty. And one who accepts the purpose of a conspiracy and goes with the other conspirators, in fact while others keep the conspiracy in effect, is guilty, though he does not want to take any active part in the crime.

Any person who is found to be the guilty of committing criminal conspiracy is governed by Section 120B which prescribes punishments for the same to the person. It sentences the conspired party of an offence punishable with death, life imprisonment or rigorous imprisonment for a term  of  two  years  or  more if no specific mention is  made  in  that regard. This specific Code  for  the  punishment  of  such  a conspiracy punishes  in  the  same  manner  as  if  the person had abetted  the particular offence. The Code also prescribes punishment to the party  of  a  criminal conspiracy  even if not under a  criminal  conspiracy  to  commit  an offence   punishable   as   mentioned above  with imprisonment  of  not more than six months, or often just with fine. Mostly with both.