This article is written by Ishani; a second-year B.A.L.L.B. student at Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak. In this article, she discussed the detailed view on provisions of Criminal conspiracy; in view of common intention and unlawful assembly.
Joint liability has a deep connection with criminal conspiracy. Criminal liability is the liability that arises when people conspired to perform an unlawful act. All those people who have agreed to perform an unlawful act will be jointly liable for the conspiracy. If they do the act with criminal intention.
What is criminal conspiracy?
Conspiracy has a dictionary meaning that a secret plan by a group of people to do something bad or illegal. Section 120 A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines the offense of criminal conspiracy; when two or more persons agree to do or cause to do:-
- any illegal act,
- any act which is not illegal but performed through illegal means
The element of Mens Rea is a must while dealing with it. As the intention behind performing any crime is essential.
Case Law:- Mulcahy Vs. Regina
The court said that ‘Mens Rea’ that is the criminal intention of doing an act is very indispensable before constituting an act of conspiracy.
The criminal conspiracy must include a conspiracy to do an unlawful act or a lawful act in illegal ways.
The subject matter of this section that includes, ‘unlawful’ word is in question.
Because there is confusion on the constitution of the “Unlawful Act”.
The exact meaning of an unlawful act is still dealt with as per the court’s interpretation. However in general it is meant by something that is against law.
Historical reference of the law of conspiracy
Section 120 A was not originally the part of code of criminal procedure. It came into being by two different provisions of Cr.P.C.
- offense of abetment
- conspiracy with criminal intention
Conspiracy before was a civil offense.
Some important elements of conspiracy:-
1. The presence of two persons is must:-
Vinayak Vs. state AIR 1984 SC 1793.
In this case, the court said that the presence of two or more persons is needed to conspire a criminal intention. The presence of one person only is not covered under this section.
# Haradhan Chakraborty Vs. UOI AIR 1930 SC 1210.
2. There must be an agreement to commit an offense:-
Conspiracy arises as soon as the agreement is made. So we can conclude that mere agreement to conduct the illegal act is important, not the execution of the same.
Meetings of Minds:-
As per legal Maxim consensus-ad-idem, that means a meeting of minds. One has to prove that all conspirators must have the same intentions. They must have a common design in mind.
#Nand Kumar Singh AIR 1992
In UOI Vs. Prafulla Kumar Samal, AIR 1979, the court said that the mere making of such an agreement that has the motive to do an illegal act is an offense.
Proof of Conspiracy:-
Criminology says that crime is psychological in nature. And it also involves inheritance factors. But the direct proof of such intention which remains in mind is not that easy. Majority of the times such act remains a secret only.
So there are two types of evidences:-
- Direct Evidence:-
- Circumstantial Evidence:-
The inference can generally be deduced from the acts of parties. The acts were done in pursuance of the already planned acts. In such cases, direct evidence is the same as circumstantial evidence. Because the criminal design has not been executed yet and its merely in the form of design.
#Quinn Vs. Leathem
Doctrine of Agency:-
Bhagwan Swaroop Lai Bishan Lai Vs. The state of Maharashtra. This doctrine shows that criminal liability for servants and agents arises for acting as helpers in the criminal design of the principal.
Concept or Constructive Liability:-
The common object under Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860; defines constructive liability concept as, “when a criminal act is done by several persons, in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such person is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone”.
But it is noted that the words, “in furtherance of” was not initially the part of IPC, 1860 it was added by the 1870 amendment.
It is important to discuss this aspect; because there should not be any liability arising in serious offenses merely by the presence at the crime scene. As it was there in Section 149 of I.P.C., 1860 that says that mere presence in unlawful assembly is an offense.
For joint liability under section 34 says that one should be liable for the acts done in common intention.
They should take other steps further by having in mind the common object. By keeping the common design in mind every person involved should do an act in a series of acts done to achieve the common objective. As if the act is done by one person alone then the other offenders must commit different acts in the commission of the act or non- commission of the act.
Punishment under 120 B of criminal conspiracy:-
Under section 120 B of I.P.C., 1860; it was defined for punishment conviction of death or rigorous imprisonment.
Punishment is punitive in nature: The punitive justice is to punish the criminal offenders for their acts. It is believed that the infliction of pain provided on the basis of the previous actions will determine the future behavior of criminals.