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IPC Section 120B- To prove the charge of conspiracy, it is necessary to establish that there was an agreement between the parties for doing an unlawful act: Supreme Court of India

It is difficult to establish conspiracy by direct evidence at all, but at the same time, in absence of any evidence to show meeting of minds between the conspirators for the intended object of committing an illegal act, it is not safe to hold a person guilty for offences under Section 120-B of IPC. A few bits here and a few bits there on which prosecution relies, cannot be held to be adequate for connecting the accused with the commission of crime of criminal conspiracy. This was observed by Hon’ble R. Subhash Reddy, J in the matter of Praveen @ Sonu vs. The State of Haryana [Criminal Appeal No. 1571 of 2021].

In this case the police where escorting four accused from the Central Jail, Jaipur to produce them in the Court of CJM, Bhiwani. When the train reached at a Railway Station, four boys entered the compartment and attacked the police in order to rescue the accused. After investigation, the learned Additional Sessions Judge, held all the accused guilty for commission of offences punishable under Sections 224, 225, 332, 353, 302 r/w Section 120-B of the IPC. Aggrieved by the judgment of conviction and sentence imposed by the Sessions Court, the appellant herein, appealed before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh, which was dismissed confirming the conviction and sentence imposed by the Sessions Court. The 3rd Accused, Parveen, is appellant in the present Appeal.

The learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellant submitted that even though there was no concrete proof to establish the participation of the appellant in the alleged crime, the Trial Court as well as the High Court had believed the prosecution story in absence of any supporting evidence and convicted him. It was submitted that except the alleged confessional statements of co– accused, there was no other acceptable evidence to connect the appellant herein to the crime. It was submitted that, the Trial Court convicted the appellant in absence of any acceptable evidence and even the High Court, except for recording the depositions of all the witnesses, did not considered any of the grounds urged, and dismissed the Appeal. In support of the case of the appellant, learned Counsel relied on the judgment of the supreme Court in the case of Indra Dalal v. State Of Haryana and the judgment of this Court in the case of Uppa alias Manjunatha v. State of Karnataka.

The learned advocate general appearing on behalf of the respondent-state, supported the view taken by the Courts. She submitted that there was sufficient material and evidence on record which clearly establishes the guilt of the accused, beyond reasonable doubt. It was submitted that there was credible evidence available on record to believe that appellant was a party to the accused group, who conspired together to rescue the other four accused, who were being taken by the police party to produce before the Court.

Supreme court after perusing the facts and arguments presented, held that – “It is fairly well settled, to prove the charge of conspiracy, within the ambit of Section 120-B, it is necessary to establish that there was an agreement between the parties for doing an unlawful act. At the same time, it is to be noted that it is difficult to establish conspiracy by direct evidence at all, but at the same time, in absence of any evidence to show meeting of minds between the conspirators for the intended object of committing an illegal act, it is not safe to hold a person guilty for offences under Section 120-B of IPC. A few bits here and a few bits there on which prosecution relies, cannot be held to be adequate for connecting the accused with the commission of crime of criminal conspiracy. Even the alleged confessional statements of the co-accused, in absence of other acceptable corroborative evidence, is not safe to convict the accused. Section 26 of the Evidence Act makes all those confessions inadmissible when they are made by any person, whilst he is in the custody of a police officer, unless such a confession is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate. The findings recorded by the Trial Court in convicting the appellant mainly on the ground that he was one of the conspirators for the crime in question, is erroneous and illegal. The High Court has not considered the evidence on record in proper perspective and erroneously confirmed the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant. For the aforesaid reasons, this appeal is allowed. Conviction recorded and sentence imposed on the appellant is, hereby, set aside and he is acquitted of the charges levelled against him.”

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Judgement reviewed by Mehvish Alam

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