This article is written by Koushik Chittella of Dr. Ambedkar Global Law Institute, Tirupati and Nikunj Arora of Amity Law School, Noida. This article briefly discusses the concepts of abetment and criminal conspiracy including different judgements delivered by the Supreme Court so that the readers acquire complete knowledge regarding these topics. The last section of this article completely deals with the differences between abetment and criminal conspiracy.
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
Many people think that planning and arranging the required things to commit a crime but not doing it later due to any reason is not a crime. But, this area of offences is called “inchoate offences”. These types of offences are incomplete. Inchoate offences contain the anticipation and preparation required to commit the crime even when the crime is not committed later. Some examples of inchoate (incomplete) offences include abetment and criminal conspiracy
Chapter V of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with laws related to the people who instigate and help others in committing crimes. The offence of abetment is the instigation by a person to commit a crime or an illegal act. It is defined under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Criminal conspiracy is the agreement between two or more persons to commit an act by illegal means. It was added in the year 1870 with the Criminal Amendment Act, 1913, introducing Section 120-A to the Code.
Abetment is simply defined as the instigation or provocation by one person to another to commit a crime. Engaging in a conspiracy to commit a crime and any act done in furtherance is also said as abetment. The literal meaning of “abet” is to aid and encourage someone to do an act. The Apex Court in its judgement of Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab (1961) defined the term ‘abet’ as aid, and to help others in committing an illegal act. Whereas conspiracy is derived from two latin words ‘con’ meaning together, ‘spirare’ meaning to breathe.
Abetment is discussed from Section 107 to 120 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The term abetment is defined in Section 107, which emphasizes that abetment is the willingness of someone to instigate, assist, or encourage the execution of his criminal intent.
Take an example of three persons A, B, and C. A and B plan on killing C wherein A draws the plan and sets the traps to kill C. B knowing the whole scenario helps A to create gun traps. This is also considered an abetment wherein he helped the offender (A) in the commission of crime. The person instigating, encouraging, or promoting another to do so is called an ‘abettor’. The person who commits the offence is called the ‘principal offender’. In the above example, A is the principal offender, and B is the abettor. There is a significant difference between a person abetting and the actual perpetrator of the offence under criminal law. However, in a criminal conspiracy, A and B make an agreement to kill C and may or may not contribute equally but help each other as they have the same intention.
Elements of abetment
Abetment is constituted by:
- Instigating a person to commit an act punishable, or
- Engaging in any conspiracy to commit so,
- Intentionally aiding to commit an offence.
Abetment primarily depends on the intention of the abettor. But to be liable for the offence, the prosecution, under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code must prove the presence of mens rea (a guilty mind) with an actus reus (wrongful act). It must be noted that the words uttered by a person in a state of anger cannot be considered as any type of instigation or encouragement as it is impossible for a prudent man to control his words in critical moments of anger, whereas in a conspiracy, both the conspirators will have the knowledge of the commission of a crime. They contribute equally and share the actions of the conspiracy which makes them liable for the same.
Mens rea (a guilty mind) is an important element in committing any crime. In the case of abetment, both the persons, i.e., abettor and principal offender must have the mental element, i.e., mens rea. It is impossible to commit abetment without a guilty mind. An abettor might help with the commission of a crime in two ways, directly or indirectly. He can directly help by buying and handing the pistol to commit the offence or help indirectly by the commission of an act which would be an offence amounting to a crime, whereas in the case of a conspiracy, the mental element is critically examined and the agreement between the parties to commit a crime is carefully evaluated by the court before convicting a person. The importance of mens rea is detailed by the honourable Court in the case of Thakore Nitaben v. State of Gujarat (2017).
Knowledge of Crime
Another important element in constituting a crime is the complete knowledge of that crime. It is crucial to note that the person committing an act that amounts to an offence must hold complete knowledge of that offence being committed by some other person who will be the principal offender. Any court hearing the case of abetment critically evaluates the presence of his knowledge of crime and the mental element (mens rea). If the person has both the elements and has engaged in the offence deliberately even after knowing the consequences of the act, he will be made liable for the offence of abetment, whereas in a criminal conspiracy, knowledge is an element examined after the mental element, the reason being the commission of a crime also depends on the knowledge. In most cases the conspirators will have complete knowledge of the crime, so the knowledge of the crime is given second importance.
Abetment under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code
In the Indian Penal Code, abetment is defined under Section 107.
In simple words, it can be said as a person who instigates another to do an act illegal in its own nature or who intentionally engages in doing of the thing and wilfully aids others to do some illegal act is said to have committed the offence of abetment.
Punishment for abetment under the India Penal Code
In the Indian Penal Code, the Chapter on the abetment contains 15 Sections from Section 107 to Section 120. Section 109 deals with punishment for abetment when no express provision is available in the Code. The person who abets gets the same punishment as the principal offender only if the crime is done at the instigation of the abettor. The punishment for the act mentioned above is the same as the punishment for abetment under Section 117 whereas a conspiracy is defined under Section 120-A and the punishment for a conspiracy is given under Section 120-B.
Since people are conditioned to believe that only those who commit the crime will be punished, the concept of abetment being tried as a separate offence and being punished may sound very strange to the public. Throughout the Indian Penal Code, different punishments are outlined clearly and exhaustively according to their Sections that explain the different types of punishments. These include:
- Section 109: As stipulated in this Section, a person who abets an offence receives the same punishment as the primary perpetrator of the crime if the actus reus of the principal offender was caused by the abettor’s inducement.
In the event that the abettor is absent at the time the offence is committed, the provisions of Section 109 remain applicable. The only requirements are that he has either facilitated or incited the commission of the offence or has been involved in a conspiracy to commit the offence. Additionally, he should have committed some unlawful act or exclusion, in accordance with the conspiracy, or intentionally aided the commission of the offence through an act or oversight.
In this Section, it is explained that abetment is punishable with the same discipline as the original offence if the Penal Code has not independently addressed the punishment as such. There is no requirement for instigation to be framed in a specific way or to be expressed only in words under the law. Conduct or behaviour can be used as instigation. Each case is unique, so determining if instigation occurred or not will depend on its particular facts.
Law does not require the prosecution to prove that the suspect’s true intention was to instigate and nothing more. As long as there was an instigation and the offence was committed, or if it was likely to be committed if the main offender had the same intention and knowledge as the thing that was likely to have been done by the person who was instigated. A person can only be held liable for abetment by instigation if these conditions are satisfied. Additionally, the abetted act must be accomplished as the result of the abetment, in accordance with the Explanation of this Section.
- Section 110: Under Section 110, even if an abettor commits a crime with a different intent from the main perpetrator, he or she will still be held accountable for the punishment provided for the offence perpetrated by them. In accordance with this Section, an individual abetted does not have any liability.
- Section 111: This Section revolves around the phrase “each man is deemed to intend the corollary outcomes of his act.” If one man instigates another to commit specific wrongdoing, and the latter, in response to such instigation, commits not only that wrongdoing but also another wrongdoing in furtherance of it, the former is criminally liable as an abettor in regard to the latter
- Section 112: As a result of Section 112, an abettor is held liable for both the offence abetted and the offence committed. By examining Sections 111, 112 and 133 together, it is obvious that if an individual abets another in the commission of an offense and the principal goes further and accomplishes something else that has an alternative outcome than that intended by the abettor and renders the offence more serious, the abettor is responsible for the consequences.
This inquiry pertains to whether the abettor, if he were a sensible man at the time of being induced or if he had been deliberately aiding the main perpetrator, could have anticipated the likely results of his actions.
- Section 113: It is important to read Section 113 in conjunction with Section 111. As part of Section 111, the act of actus reus is accommodated, even though its impact is different from that of the act abetted. This part of the law handles situations in which the act of actus reus is equivalent to the act abetted, but its impact is not the same.
- Section 114: This Section is possibly only brought into activity when conditions adding up to the abetment of specific wrongdoing have first been proved, and after that, the presence of the accused at the commission for that wrongdoing is demonstrated furthermore. Section 114 talks about the case, where there has been the wrongdoing of abetment, however, where additionally there has been the real commission of the wrongdoing abetted and the abettor has been present there, and the manner by which it manages such a case is this. Rather than the wrongdoing being still abetment with circumstances of aggravation, the wrongdoing turns into the very wrongdoing abetted. The Section is clearly not punitory.
The provisions of Section 114 aren’t applicable in every situation in which an abettor is present at the commission of the crime abetted. In contrast to Section 109, which explains abetment, Section 114 explains abetment without the abettor being present at the time of the offence.
There is a difference between Section 34 and Section 114. Specifically, under Section 34, where a criminal act is done by multiple people, in order to achieve a common goal, each person is responsible as if it were finished by themselves; therefore, if two or more people are present, assisting and abetting in the commission of a murder, each will be tried as the main perpetrator for the crime, however, it will probably be difficult to determine who actually committed the crime.
The purpose of Section 114 is to address the situation whereby an individual, prior to committing the wrongful act, renders himself liable as an abettor, is present at the time of the actus reus, but does not actively participate in it. Section 34 does not cover the act of executing an order of one person by another by only instigating the act of the other.
- Section 115: As a result of Section 115, the abetment of certain crimes is considered a criminal offence, regardless of whether the crime was actually committed or not.
There is a possibility of imprisonment for a minimum of seven years, and a fine will also be imposed. Moreover, if an abettor commits an act for which the abettor is liable as a result of the abetment, causing injury to any person, the abettor shall be subject to imprisonment of either description, such that the term may reach fourteen years, and shall also be subject to a fine.
Types of abetment
The Indian Criminal Law recognizes three types of abetment. They are:
- Abetment by Instigation
- Abetment by Conspiracy
- Abetment by Intentional Aid
Abetment by Instigation
Any person instigating/encouraging another to do a crime is said to commit the offence by instigation. Instigation might be done by doing any act that provokes someone to do something that is illegal. Take an example of abetment of a child to commit suicide wherein the abettor has done an act like capturing his private browsing history such that the child has no way of getting out of that situation. This act of the abettor is known as abetment by instigation where he instigated the child to commit suicide. Even though he didn’t mean for that to happen, he is liable for abetment.
Jamuna Singh v. State of Bihar (1967)
In the instant case, the Apex Court has mentioned that the offence may or may not be committed but it can be tried when the instigation by the abettor is proved. The Court clearly mentioned that the offence of abetment by instigation can be tried when the instigation happens but it does not require the offence to be committed.
Abetment by Conspiracy
The second type of abetment is abetment by conspiracy wherein the person does an act or an illegal omission by engaging with two or more persons. Abetment by conspiracy is a case where abetment and conspiracy both are present in a single case. The prosecution tries the accused for both abetment and conspiracy. It is at the sole discretion of the court whether to convict the accused for conspiracy or only for the offence of abetment. Dowry death cases are perfect examples of abetment by conspiracy.
Noor Mohammad Momin v. State of Maharashtra (1971)
In the instant case, Noor Mohammad is accused of abetment under Section 109 of the code. He, along with 3 others committed a murder for which the Apex Court mentioned that the ambit of criminal conspiracy has a wider range of applicability than the offence of abetment in this case.
Abetment by Intentional Aid
Abetting a person to commit a crime by aiding/helping him with full knowledge directly or indirectly is abetment by aiding. Take an example of a security guard who wilfully leaves keys at the doorstep so that the thugs can rob the house. He helped them to get into the house, hence it is abetment by aid.
Some important cases
Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (2009)
In this case, the abettor instigated and annoyed the person who took a debt for business which in turn made him commit suicide due to the pressure. The Court in this case laid down that abetment of suicide and euthanasia is a crime and made him liable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Tejsingh v.State of Rajasthan (1957)
This case is one of the oldest cases of abetment where the victim committed Sati (Sati is an old Hindu practice where a widow sacrifices herself by sitting on top of her deceased husband’s funeral pyre). The accused in the case provoked her by pronouncing slogans of sati. The judgement made the accused liable for abetment of suicide under Section 106 of the Penal Code.
Who is an abettor
Abettor is discussed in Section 108. The term ‘abettor’ refers to a person who is actively involved in the commission of an offence, or who actively participates in the commission of a certain act that would be an offense if committed by a person with the same mental capacity or knowledge as that of the abettor.
The following are the propositions concerning abetment, which are contained in Section 108:
- Despite the fact that the abettor may not himself be bound to commit the illegal omission, abetment can still constitute an offense. When a public servant commits an illegal omission of duty governed by the code and a private party encourages him, the private party abets the offence of which the public servant is guilty, though the private party could not himself have committed the offence.
- An act abetted need not be committed for the offence of abetment to be committed. Abetment relies on the intention of the abetter, not the act itself.
- There is no requirement that the person abetted be capable by law of committing an offence, or have the same intention or knowledge of the offence as that of the abettor in order to constitute the offence of abetment. Regardless of the criminal intention of the abettor, abetment is a substantive offence; all that is required is the mere instigation to commit an offence. The abettee, meaning the person whose act the abettor abets, is not held to the same legal standard.
- When the abetment of an offence is an offence the abetment of such an abetment is also an offence.
- Conspiracy may constitute the offence of abetment without the abettor participating in the underlying criminal act. In such a case, it is sufficient for the person to be engaged in the conspiracy in which the offence is committed.
An abetment exists when a person, in India, abets the commission of any act outside of India that would be a crime if committed in India as defined in Section 108A of the IPC.
An abettor is liable under Section 111 of the Indian Penal Code. By virtue of this Section, abettor’s responsibilities are the same as that of a principal offender. Exceptions exist when acts are completed under the influence of an instigation, conspiracy, or intentional aid and as a probable consequence of the abetment. It is abetment of a crime that has a probable consequence which can reasonably be expected to be forthcoming from the abetment. In addition, proof of the probable consequences is crucial. In the absence of evidence supporting what the abettor claimed, the abettor cannot be held responsible for the actions taken.
Abettor will also be held liable for the act he did on abetment, regardless of whether the act was the same or not, as long as his intention is the same and he knew that it would be done. An abettor need not always be tried at the same trial as the principal offender and must be convicted of the offense charged before he or she can be charged with abetment of that crime. As a general rule, abetment cannot be proven until the act has been committed. However, this proposition is not unconditional. In some cases, the proof may not be sufficient to convict the offender, but it may suffice to convict the abettor. If the offender is acquitted of the charge on the basis of the benefit of the doubt, the court can convict the abettor on the basis of the evidence and facts.
The English law defines conspiracy as an agreement made between two persons to do something which is harmful to others, which is contrary to the existing law. The illegal combination of the persons to do the offence itself is the gist of the offence.
Mulcahy v. Regina (1868)
In this case, the parties make an agreement to carry out illegal immigration. This case was the reason to include the offence of criminal conspiracy into the Indian Penal Code with the amendment in the year 1870. The Court gave the following statement “When two or more persons agree to carry a criminal activity, the very plot is the criminal act in itself, the conspiracy”
Criminal Conspiracy is a major offence and is usually charged alongside another offence but abetment is not a substantive offence. Take an example of murder wherein A and B to agree to kill C for his property. Here, the criminal conspiracy will be tried alongside Section 302, i.e., Murder but when we take an example where A abets B to kill C, A will only be charged for abetment and B will be charged for murder.
Criminal Conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, 1860
It is defined under Section 120A. Criminal conspiracy is defined by Section 120A of the I.P.C. as an agreement between two or more persons to do or cause to be done an illegal act, or an act that is not illegal by illegal means. According to Section 43, the term “illegal” refers to anything that is an offence or that is prohibited or that generates grounds for civil action.
As noted in the Proviso attached to Section 120A, a mere agreement to commit an offense constitutes criminal conspiracy, and no overt act or omission is required to establish criminal conspiracy. This is necessary only when there is a desire to commit an illegal act which is not an offense. It does not matter whether the illegal act is the main purpose of the agreement or is only incidental.
In simple words, it can be said as an agreement between two or more persons to commit an act illegal in its nature, it is immaterial whether the act committed is the ultimate object of such conspiracy, or it is merely incidental to that object they are said to commit the offence of criminal conspiracy.
State of Andhra Pradesh v. Ganeswara Rao (1963)
In the instant case, the Apex Court allowed the Special Leave Petition made by the party and has set aside the acquittal of accused who were conspirators of murder. The case was remanded and the High Court was asked to consider and mark the observations made by the Apex Court.
Essentials of a conspiracy
The court has stated some broad essentials in the case of Davendera Pal Singh v. NCT of Delhi (2002) that amounts to criminal conspiracy. They are:
- Object to be accompanied
- Plan to accomplish
- Agreement between two persons to accomplish the object herein
Punishment under the Indian Penal Code
Punishment is defined under Section 120-B of the code. It mentions that a party to a conspiracy, when committing an offence punishable with death, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a period of 2 years. Any conspiracy other than an offence mentioned in the code shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or a fine or both.
To try a person for criminal conspiracy, the prosecution must prove the presence of these elements:
- Legal or an illegal act committed by illegal means.
- Agreement between two or more persons to commit an act.
- Meeting of minds.
- A Conviction for the same.
Unlike abetment, it is hard to prove the offence of criminal conspiracy. The prosecution should prove the meeting of minds between the parties to a criminal conspiracy. But in an abetment, the accused will state the name of the abettor who is responsible in the initial stage. The evidence used in proving a conspiracy is “circumstantial evidence”. Circumstantial evidence is evidence-based on direct relevant facts of the case. It is considered to be direct evidence in most cases.
One of the major observations of criminal conspiracy was made by the apex court in the following case:
Parveen v. State of Haryana (2020)
In the instant case, the police were moving 4 accused in a train wherein some thugs entered the compartment and shot a policeman with a local rifle and tried to save the accused. When the police caught them, the primary accused were tried with criminal conspiracy. The High Court passed a judgement and decided the presence of a criminal conspiracy in the case. One of the accused Parveen (Sonu) filed an SLP (Special Leave Petition) before the Supreme Court to consider his case. The Apex Court heard the case and set aside the judgement given by the High Court by giving a statement that it is not safe to convict a person for a criminal conspiracy in absence of circumstantial evidence proving a meeting of minds between the parties.
Knowledge of the offence
Another important element in proving a conspiracy is the presence of complete knowledge of the crime. The Supreme Court has specified the importance of knowledge of the offence and has given a statement that having the knowledge is enough to try a person for conspiracy under Section 120A of the IPC.
State of Maharashtra v. Somnath Thappa (1996)
The Apex Court in the instant case has specified the meaning and the broad essential of criminal conspiracy as knowledge of the offence. To establish a charge for criminal conspiracy, the accused must have the knowledge of the crime happening as a consequence of his act. The Court punished the conspirators who had a guilty intention under Section 120A of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 10 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872
Section 10 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 states that once a conspiracy to commit an illegal act has been proven, the acts of one conspirator become the acts of other conspirators. As part of a conspiracy case, evidence must be admissible under Section 10. Any statement, act, or writing of any conspirator, even if it relates to their common intention, can be used against all of them to prove the existence of the conspiracy or prove that they were involved. Prior to the admission of such a fact, the following prerequisites must be met:
- Two or more persons must have reasonable grounds to believe they have conspired to commit a crime or a wrong that can be prosecuted.
- Any statement, act, or writing made by any one of them about their common intent can be used against the others only if it was made after the time the intention was first formed.
Due to the nature of the crime, it has been held in Badri Rai v. State (1958) that section 10 of the evidence act has been intentionally drafted so as to allow such acts and statements from the co-conspirator to be admissible against the entire group of defendants. It takes secrecy and darkness to conceive and execute a conspiracy. Consequently, it is not realistic for the prosecution to link each isolated act or statement of one accused with those of the other accused, unless there is some common link tying them together. In Emperor v. Shafi Ahmed (1925), it was ruled that one conspirator is responsible for what the other conspirator does in furtherance of the common intention harboured by them both, and each conspirator is responsible for what acts his fellow conspirator commits.
Difference between abetment and criminal conspiracy
The following points highlights the difference between abetment and criminal conspiracy:
- The number of persons committing an offence varies in an abetment and a conspiracy. In an abetment, one person influences, provokes another to commit an illegal act whereas in a conspiracy two or more persons enter into an agreement to commit that offence.
- The offence of conspiracy is substantive whereas abetment is not on its own a substantive offence.
- Abetment is defined under Section 107 of the IPC. Whereas criminal conspiracy is defined under Section 120-A of the IPC.
- To be tried for abetment, the person must have committed the act of aiding or instigating, or helping the principal offender. But, in the case of a conspiracy, it is irrespective of the commission of the offence. The prosecution can try a person for having the agreement and the knowledge of the act.
- The parties to a conspiracy are called conspirators. But in the case of abetment, there are two persons called the abettor and the principal offender.
- Abettor is not a principal offender whereas a conspirator (accused) is a principal offender.
- Based on the stretch of the offence committed, the magistrate whether to award bail to the accused.
- Abetment can be done in three ways whereas conspiracy is a method of abetment.
- It can be said that abetment is the genus, whereas conspiracy is a species.
- The concept of criminal conspiracy has a wider jurisdiction in most cases than of abetment.
|Parties to abetment are abettor and principal offender||Parties to a conspiracy are called conspirators|
|It is defined under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860||It is defined under Section 120- A of the Indian Penal Code|
|Abettor is not the principal offender||A conspirator is the principal offender|
|Abetment is the Genus||Conspiracy is the species|
|It is a substantive offence||It is not a substantive offence|
|Abettor may not get the same punishment as the principal offender||All the conspirators in a case, get the same punishment|
In India, the Supreme Court and other leading courts, as well as the Indian Penal Code, highlight the following main differences:
- An abetment involves engaging or employing another person for the commission of an offence. The abettor, i.e., the person who aids and abets, is called the abettor, while the principal offender, that is, the one committing the offence, is called the principal offender, and conspiracy refers to a course or series of actions whereby an agreement is made between two or more persons for the commission of an illegal act or for doing/committing a lawful/legal act by illegal means. In that agreement, the parties are known as Conspirators.
- An abetment is an offence in which a merely conspiratorial combination or agreement between the conspirators is not sufficient, but action or omission must occur in order to accomplish the goal, but a conspiratorial agreement suffices in order to commit a crime. As a result, an overt act is needed in case of abetment by conspiracy.
- In abetment, individuals can commit the act, while in a conspiracy, it requires two or more to commit it.
- When abetment takes place, a sanction from the competent authorities is not required to proceed against the abettors, since they merely assisted in the commission of the crime. In a conspiracy, the perpetrators of the crime must be sanctioned by competent authorities in order to be prosecuted.
- Abetment belongs to a genus, while the conspiracy belongs to a species. Criminal conspiracy is punishable as a substantive offense under Section 120B, while abetment per se is not. It is possible to commit abatement in many ways such as instigation, conspiracy, intentional aid, etc., but conspiracy is one of them.
- When the offence conspired to be committed already falls within the scope of the IPC, section 120B will not apply. Likewise, when a conspiracy amounts to abetment under Section 107, it is not necessary to invoke Section 120A and 120B since the code has specifically provided that such abetment can be punishable by Section 109,114, 115 and 116, IPC. In that case, it is unnecessary to frame a charge under section 120-B when a charge under Section 107 exists.
- As a result of the close relationship between conspiracy, incitement, and abetment, the substantive offence of criminal conspiracy has an amplitude that is wider than that of abetment by conspiracy under Section 107.
Specifically, if we talk about the criminal conspiracy and abetement by conspiracy, the difference may seem to be narrow. The criminal conspiracy is addressed in Section 120A and abetment by a conspiracy in Section 107. As in criminal conspiracy, the difference lies in the presence of an agreement, whereas in abetment by conspiracy, a private act is necessary to hold the accused liable.
In its explanation of the difference between a conspiracy included in Section 107, second clause, and the provision of the conspiracy found in Section 120-A, several courts have explained that in the former offence, a mere combination of persons or agreement between them is not sufficient. The conspiracy must be at the forefront of the act or omission in order to commit the crime conspired for; in the latter case, there need only be an agreement, if it is to commit an offence. Once an act or illegal omission occurs pursuant to a conspiracy to commit an offence, the conspirators will become guilty of abetting the offence.
Abetment by conspiracy is proved by the prosecution demonstrating that the abettor initiated the act of doing a certain thing or conspired with another person or persons to do that act or actually aided that act or omission by means of an act or illegal omission. There is a greater amplitude to criminal conspiracy than to abetment by conspiracy.
How Judiciary differentiated between criminal conspiracy and abetment
In Pramatha Nath Talukdarv. Saroj Ranjan Sarkar (1961), the court held that the essence of criminal conspiracy lies in the intention to carry out an illegal act by committing an illegal act. An agreement to commit an offence constitutes a criminal conspiracy. Nevertheless, in cases where the agreement is to do an illegal act but it is not an offence or done by illegal means, some other action is needed. As such, there is a distinction between an abetment by conspiracy and a criminal conspiracy in that they involve agreement to commit an offence. Simple agreement does not constitute abetment by conspiracy. An act or omission must be performed in order to carry out the conspiracy. However, in the case of criminal conspiracy the act itself is the crime. It is the agreement or plot that constitutes the crime.
In Kehar Singh v. State (Delhi Administration) (1988) The Supreme Court held that there must be evidence of more than a simple conspiracy in order for there to be abetment by conspiracy. Once a provision of Section 120 B charge fails, it is necessary that some overt act be committed by the appellants to convict them.
In Saurendra Mohan Basu v. Saroj Ranjan Sarkar (1960) the court stated Section 196A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) does not indicate that the offense of abetment by conspiracy requires a previous sanction under that section. Such previous sanctions are necessary only in cases where there is an allegation of conspiracy pure and simple, whether it be to commit an indictable or non-indictable offence or any illicit act. In addition, the Court held that a previous sanction under Section196 A is not required to take cognizance of the offence of abetment of forgery.
Choate offences are those that are complete and the 4 stages of the crime, the illegal act is done by the parties. If the offence is not committed, but all the stages of planning and preparation are done, it is considered to be an inchoate or incomplete offence. Abetment and criminal conspiracy are two offences that are mostly seen as inchoate offences.
The penal law of India has all the required provisions that a country must have, but the execution of the same is not being conducted in the right way and lacks professionalism. The laws relating to criminal conspiracy and abetment need to be revamped so that social welfare can be easily achieved. The courts should make sure that the quality of justice provided to the public is right as the crime rates in the country have been increasing massively.
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