1) Introduction

       A Criminal Conspiracy is the agreement of two or more persons to do an illegal act, to do a legal act by illegal means. In other words, A joint evil intent is necessary to constitute crimes. Criminal Conspiracy is a partnership in crime, and each conspiracy consists of a joint and mutual agency for a prosecution of a common plan. A conspiracy being an agreement, it necessarily follows that there must be at least two persons. One person alone can not conspire. A conspiracy being an agreement, it necessarily follows that there must be at least two persons. One person alone can not conspire. Section 120(A) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines Criminal Conspiracy and Section 120(B) prescribes punishment for Criminal Conspiracy

 3) Definition of criminal conspiracy : 

        Section 120A of Indian Penal Code Defines Criminal Conspiracy - "When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done-

                   (1) an illegal act, or
                   (2) an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy:

   Provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof.

Explanation -

          It is immaterial whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of such agreement, or is merely incidental to that object.

Example : 

      A and B made a plan to murder C; letters passed between them as to the movement of C. Here both A and B are liable for indictment to a charge of criminal conspiracy under this section since there was an agreement between A and B to do an illegal act, i.e., to commit the murder of C.

4) Essential Ingredients : 
          The ingredients of Section 120A(Criminal Conspiracy), of Indian Penal Code are as follows :

1) There should be two or more persons

2) There should be Agreement between them

3) Agreement must be to to or cause to be done, an illegal act; or

4) The act may not be illegal but is done by illegal means.

5) Punishment of criminal conspiracy : 

Section 120B of Indian Penal Code prescribes punishment for criminal conspiracy .

          (1) Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.

        (2) Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both.

6) Relevant Case Law

 State of Maharashtra vs Somnath Thapa , AIR 1996 SC 1744 
           In this case Supreme Court held that to establish a charge of conspiracy the knowledge about the indulgence in either illegal act or a legal act by illegal means is necessary.

See also 

1) Distinction / difference between Theft and Extortion

2) Defamation under the Indian Penal Code

3) Difference between Theft and Criminal Breach of Trust

4) Difference between Culpable Homicide and Murder

5) Distinction / Difference between Adultery and Rape


See Also..