In the facts of the case, to decide whether there was a conspiracy or not, it is essential to discuss confessions and their impact…

In the matter of Mohd Khalid vs State of West Bengal14, the apex court through a full bench has… explained what a criminal conspiracy is, what are its characteristics and what law has developed on the subject: It would be appropriate to deal with the question of conspiracy. Section 120B of the IPC is the provision which provides for punishment for criminal conspiracy.


Definition of ‘criminal conspiracy’ given in Section 120A reads as follows: ‘120A–

When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done,– (1) an illegal act, or (2) an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy; Provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof.’


“The elements of a criminal conspiracy have been stated to be:

(a) an object to be accomplished,

(b) a plan or scheme embodying means to accomplish that object,

(c) an agreement or understanding between two or more of the accused persons whereby they become definitely committed to cooperate for the accomplishment of the object by the means embodied in the agreement, or by any effectual means,

(d) in the jurisdiction where the statute required an overt act.


In these circumstances, Section 120B of the IPC requires that the offenders shall be punished in the same manner as if they have abetted the offences committed. In the light of Section 109 of the IPC, as discussed hereinabove, the presence of abettor accused is not necessary hence whether the presence of all the above-referred accused, including A-37, has been proved at the site or not is indeed not material, since the hatching of a criminal conspiracy among the accused and their overt acts stand proved, including commission of the proved charged offences in pursuance of the conspiracy. It is therefore held that all the conspirators accused, referred to herein below, shall be held liable for having instigated and abetted the other accused and one another to commit the charged offences. A-37 and other leaders have actively stimulated the co-conspirators to commit the charged offences. All the accused can be inferred to have known the probable consequences of their abetment and their acting in pursuance of the conspiracy.


In his extrajudicial confession, A-18 has confessed to having decided, during his visit to Godhra and after having seen the corpses at Godhra, that he would show results on the next date, viz 28.02.2002, at Naroda Patiya by raising the death toll by about four times in comparison to the Godhra carnage. He confessed to having collected 23 firearms for the offences to be committed on 28.02.2002, as preparation, and having prepared a team of about 29-30 persons15, about 33 accused, including the deceased accused, were assembled at the site on the morning of 28.02.2002 when A-37 came. The confession of A-18 in the sting operation tallies with the number of miscreants, conspirators, assembled at the site, their possession and use of weapons, firearms, and the offences committed during the entire day to raise the death toll of Muslims to many times more than the death toll of Hindus in Godhra, all of which support the conclusion of the hatching of a criminal conspiracy among the accused. The occurrences spread over the entire day were totally linked with the criminal conspiracy hatched amongst the 33 accused.


It is well known that a conspiracy is hatched in secrecy and direct evidence is seldom available. It is quite natural that direct evidence of the agreement to do illegal acts would not be available. In the facts of the case, it is inferred from the proved facts and circumstances as permissible in law.

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