What is Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)?

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What is Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)? Blog Image


The Supreme Court recently dismissed the review petitions filed against its judgment which held that proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cannot be initiated by invoking Section 120B of the IPC if the alleged criminal conspiracy was not related to a scheduled offence.

About Section 120B of the IPC

  • Section 120A of the IPC defines the offence of criminal conspiracy.
  • Section 120B of the IPC, on the other hand, defines the punishment for criminal conspiracy.
  • Criminal Conspiracy under IPC is an agreement between two or more persons to commit an illegal act or to commit a lawful act by illegal means.
  • In other words, it is a criminal offence where two or more individuals agree to plan and execute a criminal act.
  • Section 120A of the IPC states: “When two or more persons agree to do or cause to be done, an illegal act or an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.”
  • For a conspiracy to be established, there must be an agreement between the conspirators, a common intention to commit an illegal act, and an overt act in furtherance of that intention.
  • The agreement does not have to be in writing or expressed verbally; it can be inferred from the conduct of the parties.
  • The Doctrine of Agency in a Criminal Conspiracy:
    • It is said that a criminal conspiracy is a partnership in crime because every member involved is a joint and mutual agent to each other for the common purpose, i.e., execution of the conspired crime.
    • By this doctrine of agency, the law contemplates that the act of one of the members in the conspiracy is deemed as the act by each of them, due to all members being equally liable.
  • Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy:
    • Under the purview of IPC 120B, conspiracy is divided into two categories depending on the nature, gravity, and punishment for the said offences. Also, whether the case is bailable or not, depends on the above-mentioned circumstances.
    • In the first part, it states that if the conspiracy is to commit an offence of serious nature, an offence which is punishable with death imprisonment, imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for at least a term of 2 years or more, or if there is no punishment mentioned in the code for the offence committed, such person shall be treated in the same manner as of the offence committed and abetted by him.
    • Whereas, in the other part of Section 120B, conspiracy other than the offence committed under the first part, conspiracy to commit an illegal act is covered. In this kind of cases, the section provides a uniform punishment, which means imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend up to six months, a fine, or both.

Related Topics

Section 153A of the Indian Penal CodeSection 377 of the Indian Penal Code
Section 420 of the Indian Penal CodeSection 354 of the Indian Penal Code

Q1) What is a review petition?

Article 137 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to review any of its judgments or orders. The court has the power to review its rulings to correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”. It is not necessary that only parties to a case can seek a review of the judgment on it. Any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review.

Source: PMLA Can't Applied Using S.120B IPC If Criminal Conspiracy Wasn't Related To Scheduled Offence : Supreme Court Rejects ED's Review Petition