One fine morning, three friends, Ranjan, Dheer and Anand sat down to discuss their future. They were all unemployed and thinking of different ways to earn their livelihood. At this juncture Dheer told in jest that they should rob a bank. Instantly Ranjan and Anand agreed, thinking that he was serious. Although Dheer was bit shocked, he realized that with the help of his friends, he could make a lot of money. So, over the next one week, they planned to rob the nearby bank. They brought masks and arranged sacks and were about to order weapons. In the meantime, a neighbour got to know of their plan and informed the police. The three were arrested. Have three committed any offence? Decide.
The main issue which is involved in the present case is whether Dheer, Anand and Ranjan should be held liable for having committed the offence of Criminal Conspiracy under section 120A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Section 120A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with the provisions of Criminal Conspiracy. The concept of criminal conspiracy is based upon the principle of joint liability. Sometimes it becomes very difficult for an individual to commit a particular offence but because of support of another person he may commit that offence easily. Just to stop such kind of situations, the legislature has enacted the concept of criminal conspiracy in the Indian Penal Code. 1860. According to this rule, a person who shows his intention to commit an offence will not only be punished but the person who supports his intention will also be held liable for the same offence.
According to section 120A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, if two or more persons agree to do an illegal act or any legal act with illegal ways then all the persons will be held responsible for that agreement. According to this section, if two or more persons agree to commit an offence, then that agreement is sufficient to make all the accused liable. There is no need to prove an overt act. But in case of any other agreement i.e., if the agreement is to commit an act which is prohibited by law or which furnishes the ground for civil remedy then in that case, only agreement is not sufficient to make all the accused liable. To prove them guilty, the prosecution has to prove some overt act. But in the former case, the prosecution can secure the conviction only by proving the agreement.
In the leading case of Devender Pal Singh v. State (SC 2001), the Hon’ble Court discussed the basic elements of Criminal conspiracy which are as follows: –
• There must be an objective
• There must be a plan to achieve that objective
• There must be an agreement between two or more persons to co-operate each other to achieve that objective
• If some overt act is necessary to held accused persons liable then there must be some overt act done by the accused persons
According to the provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860, it is clear that every offence has two basic elements 1)Actus Reus 2)Mens Rea
And in the case of criminal conspiracy given under section 120A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, the actus reus is an agreement between the parties and this agreement is created by sharing the intention between all the parties. According to our Indian Legal System, if two or more parties want to make an agreement then one party will make an offer and other party will accept that offer and if both the parties agree upon same thing in same sense then only agreement will come into existence. So, if all the accused fulfill these conditions, then only, they can be held liable for the offence of criminal conspiracy given under section 120A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
In the leading case of Kehar Singh and others v. State (SC 1988), the Hon’ble court held that generally a conspiracy is hatched in secrecy and it may be difficult to adduce direct evidence of the same. It can be proved by circumstantial evidences and it is necessary to prove physical manifestation i.e., agreement between the parties.
In the present case, Dheer, Anand and Ranjan agreed to rob the bank when Dheer told them for committing a robbery. They all agreed upon same thing in a same sense. Hence, it is clear that the agreement has been made by them and for criminal conspiracy only agreement is sufficient to commit an offence. So, Dheer, Anand and Ranjan should be held liable for having committed the offence of Criminal Conspiracy under section 120A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
[Note: – Dheer, Anand and Ranjan cannot be held liable for any other offence like preparation to commit robbery because the stage of preparation is not punishable in case of robbery]