Introduction Criminal Conspiracy
Pakistan Penal Code describes some offences, which give birth to joint and group liability. As far as these offences are concerned, all persons, who participate in commission of any of these offences, are equally liable for commission of such offence Criminal conspiracy is one of these offences.
Sections 120A, 120B(1) and 120B(2) of P.P.C. 1860.
Definition of Criminal Conspiracy
When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done
(i) an illegal act, or
(ii) an act which is not illegal by illegal means,
such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy; Section 120-A.
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.
It is immaterial whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of such agreement, or is merely incidental to that object.
Conspiracy is a scheme which germinates in the dark alleys of sinister minds and comes to light only when its external results are known. A conspiracy consists of a combination or agreement by persons to do an illegal act or to effect a legal purpose by illegal means and is complete went two or more than two persons agree to do an illegal thing.
The agreement must be the product of two consenting minds uninfluenced by any consideration of threat, intimidation, coercion or undue influence. The word ‘consent’, which is an essential ingredient of an “agreement” has been defined to means an action of reason accompanied with deliberation, the mind weighing, as in a balance, the good or evil of either side. Consent presupposes three things, a physical power, a mental power, and a free and serious use of them. Hence it is that if consent be obtained by intimidation, force, meditated imposition, circumvention, surprise, or under influence, it is to be treated as a delusion, and not as a deliberated and free act of the mind. PLD 1979 SC 53.
Criminal Conspiracy by abetment
One of the forms of abetment is conspiracy, and it makes no difference that conspiracy by way of abetment requires an overt act, whereas conspiracy under sections 120-A to commit an illegal act as is conspiracy under section 120-A . PLC 1956 Kar 395.
Duration of Criminal conspiracy
Conspiracy arises and an offence is committed as soon as an agreement is made and the offence continues to be committed as long as the combination persists, viz., until conspiratorial agreement is terminated by completion of its performance or by abandonment or frustration, or due to some other cause.
Criminal Conspiracy is substantive offence
Conspiracy is a substantive offence, which is committed as soon as the agreement to do an unlawful act is made. It is immaterial whether the acts reus executed. IN order to constitute the offence of abetment by conspiracy, there must be combining together of two or more persons in the conspiracy and an act or illegal omission must take place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing. When parties concert together, and have a common object the act of one of the parties done in furtherance of the common object and in pursuance of the concerted plan, is the act of all. PLD 1951 Raj. 89.
Agreement to commit an offence necessary
The term “agreement” as used in relation to the offence of conspiracy is not to be construed in any technical sense, as understood in the law of contract; nor is there any requirement that it should be expressed in any formal manner, or words; all that is required is that the minds of the parties meet understandingly so as to bring about an intelligent and deliberate agreement to do the acts and to commit the offence charged. There should, indeed, be a union of two or more minds in a thing done or to be done, or a mutual assent to do a thing.
Overt act is not necessary
An over act, unless the conspiracy is not to commit offences is not necessary to frame a charge under this section. Where the proof of a conspiracy depends upon proof of the participation of the accused in an overt act which itself amount to an offences, the proper course is to put the accused o their trial for that offence. Where all that is shown against a person is evidence of his association with any of the conspirators that would not sufficient to convict him being one of the parties to the conspiracy.
Proof of Criminal Conspiracy
There is no difference between the mode of proof of the offence of conspiracy and that of any other of any other offence; it can be established by direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence. For this evidence is not to be considered in isolation as so many bits of evidence but the whole evidence is to be considered together and its cumulative effect to be weighted and given effect.
Punishment of Criminal Conspiracy
(i)Under Section 120B(1) of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860;
Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence
v Punishable with death,
v Imprisonment for life or
v 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.
(ii)Under Section 120B(2) of Pakistan Penal Code 1860
Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with
v Imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or
v With fine, or
v With both
The punishment for criminal conspiracy is more severe if the agreement is to commit a serious offence; it is severe if offence is not very severe.
To conclude, it can be stated that it is wrong to mix criminal conspiracy with abetment. Although criminal conspiracy is a form of abetment, yet it is an independent offence and is wider in scope.