Criminal Conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code


in our mythological text Bhagwat Gita, there was a situation where Kauravas were planning against Pandavas that they will ask Pandavas to reside in the lakshagraha and by this way they will kill them by burning them in a fire since they conspired this with the architect of that lakshagraha who was one of the ministers of Kauravas. Therefore, the above situation constitutes the criminal conspiracy by the Kauravas and that architect against the Pandavas.


The provision under section 120A of the Indian Penal code,1860 deals with the criminal conspiracy. An agreement consisting of any illegal act or the illegal act or the illegal method or way of doing any legal act, participated by two or more persons, such agreement shall lead to the crime of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal code,1860. Here, we have to understand the meaning of illegal for achieving clarity about the concept, the meaning of illegal is given under section 43 of the Indian Penal code,1860, which provides the meaning that illegal include the offences and those acts which are strictly restricted by the laws or those action against whom any civil actions can be taken or any person who is bounded by law and support to perform the legal act but fails to do so. The section contains a provision that provides that any person conducts an agreement for committing an offence then he shall be liable for the criminal conspiracy. It is also provided by the section that any person entering into an agreement which is not for committing an offence but for an act prohibited by the law or any acts against which there are civil actions available, then such agreement shall lead to the offence of criminal conspiracy if such person acts in accordance of such agreement or act in a way that leads to the preparation of process of the goal of that agreement.

The section also states that the ultimate object may be illegal or not, it is not necessary to have an illegal object for being considered liable under Section 120A. In the case of Jagdish Joshi vs State of Maharashtra, 2008, it was held that there must be a common mind or matching of the mind of two or more persons is very crucial for considering their agreement as a criminal conspiracy under section 120A of the code. It was also laid down by the court that the direct or indirect or circumstantial also.


In the context o criminal conspiracy, Section 120A provides clarity upon the concept and laid down the two aspects of the offence of criminal conspiracy which helps in comprehending the legal provisions, such as-

  • Firstly, the section states the agreement held between two or more persons for committing an offence. For example, X and Y are the two persons who are the enemies of A and they agreed an agreement of murdering A. Thus, it shall lead to the criminal conspiracy and thereby X and Y shall be held liable for the offence under 120B of the code.
  • Subsequently, the section also states about the agreement which includes the act other than committing an offence and pursuing an act which is not allowed by law or any act which needs the civil action against it and some steps or action must be held in pursuance of such agreement. For example- There were two rival companies named X and Y, Y held a contract with company A and the 3 employees of X company called A and 4 of them entered into an agreement in which 3 employees of X asked A to breach the contract with Y and Y agreed for that. Since here the agreement consists of the act of breach of contract which us a kind of unlawful activity but still the 3 employees and A shall not be liable for the offence until unless they perform some action which refers to the process of execution of such agreement.

There are some necessary features which are significant for the offence of criminal conspiracy, also the ingredients are relevant for considering the act as a crime under Section 120A of the code as a criminal conspiracy. Therefore, these are the main components of the crime criminal conspiracy under Section 120A of the code which is as follows-

  • An agreement must be created for committing an offence. This is the main feature of the criminal conspiracy that the agreement made between the parties must constitute the planning of committing the crime. If there is any such agreement, the persons participating or involving such agreement shall be held liable for the offence under Section 120B of the code for the punishment.
  • There must be two or more than two people. This is the most central part of the criminal conspiracy that the agreement must be constituted by two or more people.

In the case of Bhimdhar Pradhan vs State of Orissa, 1956, it was laid down that in the situation where two or more than two people are the part of the conspiracy and only one person is recognized and the other escaped, then the person who has been caught shall be liable for the punishment under the Section 120B.

  • There must be the criminal intent consisted of the persons holding the agreement. This is also an essential feature that persons entering an agreement must have the criminal intent against the person for the conspiracy conducted.

In the case of Muleachy vs Regina, the court held that the intention of the criminal plays a very vital role in conducting the act of criminal conspiracy.

  • There must be the common object of the persons participating in the agreement or involving in the agreement. They must have a common mind.

In the case of State of Tamil Nadu vs Nalini, 1999, it was held that if any person is associated or present with those who participate in conspiracy but such person does not have the common mind in the meeting held for conspiracy and only have an appearance with them, then such person shall not be considered liable for that conspiracy.

  • There must be an act that takes place which contributes or supports in preparation of the illegal act or an act finalized in the criminal conspiracy. In the situation where there is an agreement for not committing any offence but for committing an act which is prohibited by the law or any activity against which any civil action can be taken, in such situation there must be an act performed which indicating the part of the act constituted in the criminal conspiracy

In the case of Rex vs Jones, the court held that the offence of criminal conspiracy may include an illegal act or an illegal means for the act.


According to Section 120B of the Indian Penal code,1860, the person who is liable for the offence of the criminal conspiracy shall be punished under the section for the term two years of imprisonment or death penalty or life imprisonment. Also if any criminal conspiracy consisting of an agreement for not committing an offence then persons involved in such conspiracy shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may not be extended to 6 months or fine liability or both.


Lastly, the conclusive part consists that section 120A and 120B provides the meaning and punishment of the offence of criminal conspiracy. The crime of criminal conspiracy refers to an agreement between two or more people for committing an offence or any illegal or unlawful act. The crime of Abetment which is given under section 107 of the code which is also containing a kind of conspiracy that is slightly different from this criminal conspiracy. The major difference between them is as the criminal conspiracy under section 120A requires an overt act in the case where an agreement consists for committing an illegal act other than offence whereas conspiracy under section 107 does not require any overt act it only requires an agreement.

Also Read: Criminal Breach of Trust – Section 405 of Indian Penal Code, 1860

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