Criminal conspiracy

Conspiracy means a combination of two or more person for unlawful purpose. The rules relating to offence of criminal conspiracy under Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes several persons who are directly or indirectly engaged in commission of any illegal act or omission.

The offence of criminal conspiracy is defined under Section 120-A of Chapter V-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. According to Section 120-A, when two or more persons come together and agree to do, or cause something to be done, which constitutes an illegal act or a legal act obtained of carried forward by illegal means, such persons would be guilty of the commission of the offence of criminal conspiracy.

However, a unique feature of the offence under section 120A is that an “agreement to commit an offence” can by itself amount to a criminal conspiracy. This means that it is sufficient for the prosecution to prove that there was an agreement between two or more persons.

The definition of criminal conspiracy under Indian Penal Code, 1860 incorporates three main ingredients of the offence which are

1. Two or more person

One of the main requirements for constituting the offence of criminal conspiracy is involvement of two or more person. The offence criminal conspiracy cannot be committed by a single person, therefore every the offence of criminal conspiracy is committed it will involve two or more person who will subsequently agree for the commission of any offence.

2. Agree to do or cause to be done

The second requirement for the constitution the offence of criminal conspiracy is an agreement between the parties. There should be consensus ad idem (meeting of minds) between the parties as an agreement cannot exist unless and until there is meeting of minds between the parties. The word agreement itself includes the word ‘agree’ which stipulates that the parties to the agreement should agree for the same thing, if it not so then no agreement would exist between the parties.

3. An illegal act or an act which is not illegal by illegal means

The last but not the least requirement for constituting the offence of criminal conspiracy is commission of an ‘illegal act’. The most important ingredient for constituting an offence under criminal law is the presence of mens rea, any act would not be considered illegal unless and until it incorporates men rea.

According to Black law dictionary Criminal conspiracy is defined as: The combination or confederacy between two or more persons formed for the purpose of committing, by their joint efforts, some unlawful or criminal act, or some act which is innocent in itself, but becomes unlawful when done by the concerted action of the conspirators, or for the purpose of using criminal or unlawful means to the commission of an act not in itself unlawful.3

Generally, the charge of some other substantive offences is also included along with the offence of criminal conspiracy against the accused.

Definition of Criminal Conspiracy

Section 120A of the I.P.C. defines criminal conspiracy as an agreement of two or more persons to do or cause to be done,

  1. An illegal act, or;
  2. An act not illegal by illegal means.

Section 43 of the I.P.C. defines under section 43 of IPC as everything that comes under an offence or which is prohibited by law or furnishes ground for civil action.

In simple terms, when 2 or more person agrees to do or cause to be done an illegal act or act which is not illegal by illegal means or any legally prohibited act or any civil wrong.

This section will apply in cases where either the ultimate object or means of committing the act is illegal.

No agreement except agreement for commission of an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless parties have done some act besides the agreement.

Actus reas is required in pursuance of an agreement to commit an act prohibited by law or an agreement to commit any civil wrong except in agreement to commit an offence.

Punishment for Conspiracy

Section 120-B prescribes the punishment for the commission of the crime of criminal conspiracy. According to Section 120-B, if the parties involved in the conspiracy, conspired to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or more, shall be punishable in the same manner as if he/she had abetted the commission of such an offence, if no explicit punishment for the commission of such a conspiracy has been provided for, by the Code.

However, if the parties involved in the conspiracy, conspired to commit an offence punishable with terms not prescribed previously, such persons shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine, or both.

Case laws

  1. In State of Bihar v. Kailash,35 where there were two ration in the town of Patna — one standing on the name of respondent Kailash Prasad Singh and the other in the name of respondent Shyam Sunder Singh. Respondent Adya Prasad was the Munshi of the first shop while respondent Ragho Prasad was the Mumshi of the latter shop. Respondent Ambika Prasad was a helper of Adya Prasad. Occasionally he worked for the other shop also. The case against the respondents was that between October 1952 and February 1954 they conspired to cheat the Ration Office at Patna by presenting forged challans and obtaining ration authorities on the basis of those forged challans and thereafter taking delivery of grains from the Government godowns. The accused was the license holder of a shop and there was evidence that he used to visit the offices. However, it was not proved that he filed any of the fabricated challans. The only circumstance against him was that he knew of the passed challans and must have been benefitted by the fraud. Therefore, the evidence of his being member of the conspiracy consisted of the commission of the offences themselves by others. The court held that it could not be said that the charge of conspiracy had not been proved against him.
  • In Sushil Suri v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 36 the Supreme Court held that where two Chartered Accountants had dishonestly and fraudulently opened several fictitious accounts in some banks with an intention and object to facilitate of bank finance for the purpose other than stated in the loan application. The accused persons submitted to the bank, fake and forged invoices of fictitious/non-existent supplier. The essential ingredient of criminal conspiracy is agreement to commit offence between accused and the commission of crime alone is enough to bring about a conviction under section 120B. The appellant with Directors and Chartered Accountant defrauded revenue and in the process cheated the public exchequer of crores of rupees and were convicted under section 120B, 420, 409 and 471.
  • In Leo Roy Frey V. Suppdt. Distt. Jail [8] the court held that “The offence of conspiracy to commit a crime is a different offence from the crime that is the object of the conspiracy because the conspiracy precedes the commission of the crime and is complete before the crime is attempted or completed, equally the crime attempted or completed does not require the element of conspiracy as one of its ingredients they are, therefore quite separate offences”



 Click Here to know more about our Upcoming Courses

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: