Sunday, 27 September 2015

Whether mere conspiracy to commit offence is punishable?

 In State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, (2005) 11 SCC 600, this Court after analyzing the history of the offence of conspiracy held as follows:
88. Earlier to the introduction of Sections 120-A and 120-B, conspiracy per se was not an offence under the Penal Code except in respect of the offence mentioned in Section 121-A. However, abetment by conspiracy was and still remains to be an ingredient of abetment under clause secondly of Section 107 IPC. The punishment therefor is provided under various sections viz.Sections 108 to 117. Whereas under Section 120-A, the essence of the offence of criminal conspiracy is a bare agreement to commit the offence, the abetment under Section 107 requires the commission of some act or illegal omission pursuant to the conspiracy. A charge underSections 107/109 should therefore be in combination with a substantive offence, whereas the charge under Sections 120-A/120-B could be an independent charge.
89. In the Statement of Objects and Reasons to the Amendment Bill, it was explicitly stated that the new provisions (120-A and 120-B) were "designed to assimilate the provisions of the Penal Code to those of the English Law....". Thus, Sections 120-A and 120-B made conspiracy a substantive offence and rendered the mere agreement to commit an offence punishable. Even if an overt act does not take place pursuant to the illegal agreement, the offence of conspiracy would still be attracted. The passages from Russell on Crimes, the House of Lords decision in Quinn v. Leathem and the address of Willes, J. to the Jury in Mulcahy v. R. are often quoted in the decisions of this Court. The passage in Russell on Crimes referred to by Jagannatha Shetty, J. in Kehar Singh case (SCC at p. 731, para 271) is quite apposite:
"The gist of the offence of conspiracy then lies, not in doing the act, or effecting the purpose for which the conspiracy is formed, nor in attempting to do them, nor in inciting others to do them, but in the forming of the scheme or agreement between the parties. Agreement is essential. Mere knowledge, or even discussion, of the plan is not, per se, enough."
Supreme Court of India
R.Dineshkumar@Deena vs State Rep. By Inspector Of Police ... on 16 March, 2015
Bench: J. Chelameswar, C. Nagappan
Read full judgment here; click here
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