Understanding Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)                   

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March 29, 2024

Understanding Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)                   

Introduction to Section 120B:

  • Recently, the Supreme Court made a significant decision concerning the review petitions linked to Section 120B of the IPC. This section deals with the punishment for criminal conspiracy, distinct from Section 120A which defines the offence itself.

Explaining Criminal Conspiracy:

  • Criminal conspiracy, as outlined in Section 120A, entails an agreement between two or more individuals to execute an illegal act or to achieve a lawful objective through unlawful means. It involves planning and collaboration among conspirators to commit a criminal act.

Essential Elements of Conspiracy:

  • For conspiracy to be established, certain elements must be present, including an agreement among conspirators, a shared intention to commit an illegal act, and overt actions towards fulfilling that intention. This agreement need not be explicitly stated but can be inferred from the conduct of those involved.

Doctrine of Agency in Conspiracy:

  • The doctrine of agency asserts that every member of a conspiracy acts as a joint agent for the common purpose of committing the planned crime. This implies that the actions of one member are attributed to all, rendering them equally liable.

Punishment Framework for Conspiracy:

  • Under Section 120B, conspiracy is categorized based on the seriousness of the offence and the associated punishment. If the conspiracy involves a grave offence punishable by death, life imprisonment, or rigorous imprisonment for at least two years, the conspirators are treated as if they committed the offence itself. For conspiracies related to lesser offences, a uniform punishment is prescribed, which includes imprisonment for up to six months, a fine, or both.


  • In essence, Section 120B of the IPC addresses the punishment aspect of criminal conspiracy, emphasizing the seriousness with which the law treats collaborative efforts to commit illegal acts.

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Understanding Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) | Vaid ICS Institute