Criminal Conspiracy can be defined as an act when two or more persons agree to do or cause to do:
Any illegal act.
Any act which is done through illegal means.
It is important to note that the objective to do such a crime is very important in this act.
In the case of Mulcahy v. Regina, it was said that the criminal intent of doing an act is very indispensable from constituting an act of conspiracy.
In Rex v. Jones, it was first held that “Criminal Conspiracy ought to charge a conspiracy, either to do an unlawful act or a lawful act by unlawful means”. The idea of intent extends in various cases in national and international law. Many have argued on the constitution of the ‘unlawful’ act. The real meaning to that is still getting scrutinised by the courts, however, we can still count that as anything which is against the law.
Criminal conspiracy was considered a civil offence, initially. The idea behind this was two-fold:
Abetment in any offence; or
Conspiracy with criminal intent.
But later on, it began to be considered a criminal offence. In 1868, the scope was widened by adding it to Section 120A of the Indian Penal Code, 1862. The history of criminal conspiracy has evolved through a series of cases.
Ingredients of Section 120A
In Rajiv Kumar v State of UP, the court took out some basic necessary ingredients in order to constitute conspiracy,
There must be two or more persons;
There must be an illegal act or an act in an illegal way;
There must be a meeting of minds;
There must be an agreement regarding the same thing.
The ingredients must be present in any act in order to constitute it as a crime of criminal conspiracy. In Pratapbhai Hamirbhai Solanki v. State of Gujarat and another, it was held that the most important ingredient is the intent to cause an illegal act.
Nature and scope of section 120A
The nature and scope of Criminal Conspiracy are limited to conspiring to do an illegal act by two or more persons. No one person can constitute the offence. It requires two or more persons to agree to do some act. The underlying purpose of the Sections was to prevent any illegal act from happening before the constitution of a criminal act. The nature of the sections is preventive. It helps in the prevention of any criminal activity. The next step after this stage is the performance of the act. So, the scope of the law is only limited to agreement and meeting of minds with regards to a criminal act.
Nature and scope of Section 120B-
Section 120B specifies the punishment given to the persons convicted for the crime of conspiracy. They may be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment. The nature of this section is punitive. The scope of this section is limited to providing punishments after the accused has been convicted.
By – SHAMBHAVI