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Conspiracy is an agreement to do an unlawful act or lawful act by unlawful means. It is a crime as well as a tort. The section applies to both kinds of conspiracy. (i.e, crime & tort)
The special feature of this rule is that anything said, written or done by any member of the conspiracy is an evidence against the other members even if they are done in their absence and without their knowledge. The basis of this rule is agency. Just as partnership is to do something legal, conspiracy is to do something illegal, and just as in a partnership, one partner is deemed to be the agent of another, so also, one conspirator is deemed to be the agent of another and anything said, done, or written by the agent, i.e, one conspirator is deemed to be done by the principal, i.e, by another conspirator.
The very first requirement of this section is that there should be a prima facie evidence affording reasonable ground for the court to believe that two or more persons have entered into conspiracy. On this aspect is the decision of Kehar Sinngh v. State (Delhi Admn.) AIR 1988 SC 1883. In this case the two accused, one of whom actually caused death, were often seen together before the event isolating themselves on a roof top and making every possible effort to conceal their conversation from the family members. It was held to be sufficient prime facie proof of conspiracy so as to punish one for the action of the other.
Once prima facie ground is established, the second condition that is required to be established is that the things said, done, or written by one of the conspirators will be relevant against the others only if and if it was so done during the time the common intention was afoot. That is, things said, done, or written before the common intention was formed and after the common intention was over are irrelevant and inadmissible.
Section 120 A of IPC lays down “when two or more persons agree to do or cause to be done
- An illegal act,
- (2) an act which is not illegal, through illegal means.
Such agreement is designated as criminal conspiracy; provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof.
Therefore as per the definition it is not necessary in order to constitute a conspiracy, that the acts agreed to be done should be necessarily criminal. It is enough if the acts, agreed to be done although not criminal wrongful not criminal are wrongful, i.e, “amount to civil wrong”.
Scope of the section:
Under section 10 anything said, done, or written by any one of the conspirator in respect of their common intention is admissible against all the conspirator for proving that
- Conspiracy existed.
- Person was a party to it.
It must be borne in mind that everything said or done or written by one of the conspirators at any time will not be relevant under section 10. Under section 10, a thing done, said, or written after the time when such intention was first entertained by any one of them is not relevant. Again anything done, said, or written before such intention was first entertained by any one of them is not relevant under this section. However, even during the time the conspiracy was afoot, only those things that are said, done or written in reference to the common intention will be admissible.