May 27, 2024
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By Taniya Mahanti (second-year law student at UPES)


With an emphasis on Section 61 of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023 and its development from IPC Sections 120A and 120B, this paper explores the evolving legal framework around criminal conspiracy. Research uses a doctrinal approach, examining academic literature, legislation, and case laws. The definition of criminal conspiracy is broadened by Section 61 to include agreements for unlawful conduct or activities carried out by unlawful methods. This clause adds subtlety by introducing words like proviso, highlighting concrete acts above and beyond agreements, and customizing the punishment structure according to the seriousness of the crimes in question. The paper does, however, criticize several possible difficulties, such as differing court interpretations and subjective evaluation of a “common object”. In light of Section 61’s critical role in reforming the jurisdiction’s criminal conspiracy legislation, the finding highlights the necessity of ongoing review and flexibility in its implementation.

Keywords: Criminal Conspiracy, Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, Section 61, IPC Sections 120A and 120B, Legal Evolution, Doctrinal Analysis, Judicial Interpretation, Punishment Framework.


The implementation of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023, signified a noteworthy shift in the field of criminal law in the territory it oversees. Section 61, which deals with criminal conspiracy and its components, is a crucial part of this legal structure. This section offers more complex viewpoints on conspiracy actions and supersedes the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)[1].

The idea of criminal conspiracy is encapsulated in Section 61 of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, which defines the circumstances under which an agreement between two or more persons is considered a criminal conduct. By include agreements pertaining to both unlawful activities and those accomplished via illegal means, it expands the scope. Under its scope, the provision aims to make such conspiracies illegal unless they entail a plan to commit a particular crime, guaranteeing a more thorough approach to combating criminal conspiracies[2].

The present introduction lays the groundwork for an investigation into the complexities and ramifications of Section 61. It covers its development from the Indian Penal Code, the components of criminal conspiracy, and the subtleties pertaining to the individuals involved. It also sets the stage for a critical evaluation of any difficulties or ambiguities that could occur in applying this clause, as well as a consideration of case laws that have influenced how it has been interpreted. With this research, we hope to shed light on the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita’s criminal conspiracy laws and provide an understanding of their importance and influence in relation to the larger body of criminal jurisprudence.


The genesis of Section 61 in the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023, can be traced back to its precursor in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), namely Sections 120A and 120B. These sections, dealing with criminal conspiracy, provided the foundation upon which the new provision was constructed.

Under the IPC, Section 120A defined criminal conspiracy, and Section 120B outlined the punishment for such offenses. The Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, in its evolution, aimed to reevaluate and modernize these provisions to address contemporary legal challenges. Section 61 mirrors the essence of Sections 120A and 120B but introduces subtle yet impactful modifications to align with the evolving legal landscape[3].

Notably, Section 61 broadens the scope of criminal conspiracy by explicitly encompassing agreements involving acts achieved through illegal means, going beyond the limitations of its IPC predecessors. The legislative intent behind this expansion is to ensure a more comprehensive approach to tackling conspiratorial activities in the evolving socio-legal context[4].

This background contextualization highlights the legislative progression from the IPC to the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, emphasizing the intent to adapt and enhance the legal framework surrounding criminal conspiracy, reflecting the dynamism inherent in the evolution of criminal law in the jurisdiction.


  1. To investigate Legislative Development.
  2. To examine the components of criminal conspiracy.
  3. To Assessing Court Decisions.


Redefining and broadening the definition of criminal conspiracy, Section 61 of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023 draws heavily on the fundamental ideas of its forerunners, IPC Sections 120A and 120B. The section provides a nuanced viewpoint on agreements between two or more persons while outlining the components of a criminal conspiracy[5].

2.1 Definition and Elements: According to Section 61(1), a criminal conspiracy is formed when two or more people come together with the intention of doing or causing an illegal act, or an act accomplished by illegal means. This is different from IPC Section 120A, which limits the scope to activities that are intrinsically criminal. Instead, it broadens it to encompass acts accomplished using illegal methods[6].

The elements of criminal conspiracy under Section 61 encompass:

  • Agreement with Common Object: This fundamental component necessitates an agreement between people who have a common goal, whether that goal entails breaking the law or achieving it illegally.
  • Types of Acts Covered: Taking into account the fact that criminal activity is dynamic, this covers both naturally occurring unlawful acts and those that are accomplished using illegal methods.
  • Unlawful Means and Incidental Acts: Section 61 emphasizes the importance of the agreement by punishing those who engage in unlawful acts, regardless of whether they are the main goal or only a side effect[7].

2.2 Explanation Clause: Immateriality of the Illegal Act: It makes no difference whether the unlawful act is the primary goal of the agreement or only one of its byproducts, as the explanation provision in Section 61(1) makes clear. The essence of criminal conspiracy can be better understood thanks to this interpretive flexibility.

Part 61 establishes the foundation for an extensive legal framework that balances individual rights with legislative intent and responds to modern problems by precisely defining the components and circumstances of criminal conspiracy.


Section 61(2) of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023, elaborates on the parties involved in a criminal conspiracy and delineates the punishments based on the nature of the conspiracy.

3.1 Individuals Involved: Section 61(2) identifies individuals who are parties to a criminal conspiracy. This includes anyone who agrees with the common object of committing an illegal act or an act achieved through illegal means. The section categorizes these individuals based on the severity of the offense they conspire to commit[8].

3.2 Conditions for Punishment: The severity of punishment under Section 61(2) is contingent upon the nature of the offense agreed upon.

  • 3.2.1 Offenses Punishable with Death, Life Imprisonment, or Rigorous Imprisonment: If the conspiracy is to commit an offense punishable with death, life imprisonment, or rigorous imprisonment for two years or more, the parties involved shall be punished in the same manner as if they had abetted the actual offense.
  • 3.2.2 Offenses Punishable with Imprisonment up to Two Years: For conspiracies involving offenses punishable with imprisonment for up to two years, the parties may face imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine, or both.

Punishment Framework:

Section 61(2) establishes a clear framework for the punishment of individuals involved in criminal conspiracies based on the gravity of the contemplated offense. This ensures proportionality and a targeted response to the level of criminality associated with the conspiracy.


The application of Section 61 in the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023, involves a meticulous process of interpretation and enforcement to ensure the effective administration of justice. Legal practitioners and law enforcement agencies play a pivotal role in understanding the nuances of this provision. Section 61(1) requires a careful analysis of agreements between two or more individuals, emphasizing the common object to commit illegal acts or acts achieved through illegal means. The provision’s breadth, encapsulating both inherently illegal acts and those achieved through illegal means, demands a comprehensive approach during interpretation[9].

The proviso to Section 61(1) introduces a critical condition that necessitates some act beyond the agreement to be done by one or more parties, reinforcing the requirement for tangible steps towards the realization of the conspiracy. This condition acts as a safeguard against arbitrary criminalization based solely on agreements without corresponding actions[10].

In enforcement, legal practitioners must navigate the dual considerations of the severity of the contemplated offense and the nature of the criminal conspiracy, as outlined in Section 61(2). The punishment framework, differentiating offenses punishable with death, life imprisonment, or rigorous imprisonment from those attracting shorter sentences, reflects a tailored response to the gravity of the conspiracy. Law enforcement agencies must align their efforts with the legislative intent behind Section 61, ensuring a judicious application that upholds both the rule of law and individual rights. Judicial interpretation and precedents will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the enforcement landscape, providing guidance on how the nuances of Section 61 are to be applied in practice.


Parveen v. State of Haryana (2021) SC[11]:

In this particular instance, the Supreme Court decided that hard proof of a conspiracy arrangement for an illegal act is necessary to condemn someone under Section 120B IPC. Following Parveen’s acquittal, the court emphasized that it is unreliable to rely just on the purported confessions of co-accused individuals in the absence of supporting evidence.

In the precedent-setting case, Ram Sharan Chaturvedi v. State of Madhya Pradesh[12], A “physical manifestation of agreement” is required to prove a crime under Section 120B, the Supreme Court emphasized in the precedent-setting decision of this case. The court ruled that mere speculation or supposition is insufficient evidence to support the existence of a criminal conspiracy.

In Sachin Jana and Another vs State of West Bengal[13], The Supreme Court acknowledged in this case that concrete evidence of shared purpose is uncommon. The court made it clear that proved facts or circumstances can be used to infer such an aim, allowing circumstantial evidence to establish shared intention and establish guilt.

In Firozuddin Basheeruddin and others vs. State of Kerala[14], The court in this case made it clear that each co-conspirator need not have actively participated in the wrongdoing the whole time. Any agreement—expressed, implicit, or partially implied—is considered to be a component of the conspiracy.

Essar Teleholdings Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation[15]

This decision by the Supreme Court made clear that showing an accused party’s consent to commit the claimed act is necessary to prove criminal conspiracy. To prove a criminal conspiracy, circumstantial evidence alone is inadequate.

State of Kerala v. P. Sugathan & Ors.[16]

In this decision, the Kerala High Court held that testimony from co-accused parties alone are insufficient to support allegations of criminal conspiracy.” Verification of conspiracy claims requires independent proof.

State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Singh Sidhu & Anr.[17]

Because the prosecution was unable to establish that the accused parties had agreed to the claimed offense, the Supreme Court dismissed the criminal conspiracy allegations against Navjot Singh Sidhu. There was insufficient evidence to support criminal conspiracy accusations.


In summary, Section 61 of the Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023, expands the definition of criminal conspiracy to encompass actions carried out through illicit means, which is a major change from its predecessor, IPC Sections 120A and 120B. The evolving definitions, requirements, and penalty systems presented in this clause clearly demonstrate the legislative intent behind it. Section 61’s applicability is not without difficulties, though. The broad scope of the clause, although indicative of current illicit actions, may give rise to uncertainties, especially with regard to construing the “common object” and ascertaining the legitimacy of specific agreements. Reliance on judicial interpretation might lead to different applicability in different circumstances. Furthermore, although the penalty structure is sensitive to the seriousness of the infractions, it still requires careful balance in order to maintain proportionality. The courts, law enforcement, and legal professionals all play critical roles in addressing these issues. It will be crucial to maintain constant observation, flexibility, and a dedication to fine-tuning interpretations in light of changing legal environments. Despite these difficulties, Section 61 is an important step toward updating criminal conspiracy laws, highlighting the requirement for a flexible legal framework to take into account the intricacies of criminal activity in the area today.



  1. Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023.
  2. Indian Penal Code, 1860.


  1. Black, H. C. Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed.). (Thomson Reuters, 2019).
  2. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal. The Indian Penal Code (35th ed.). (LexisNexis, 2020).
  3. Singh, Avtar. Introduction to the Constitution of India. (Eastern Book Company, 2018).
  4. Sutherland, E. H., & Cressey, D. R. Principles of Criminology. (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1978).
  5. Williams, G. L. Textbook of Criminal Law. (Sweet & Maxwell, 2018).


  1. Smith, J. A. “Evolution of Criminal Conspiracy Laws: A Comparative Analysis of IPC and Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita.” Journal of Legal Studies, 45(2), 201-220 (2022).
  2. Sharma, R. K. “Interpretative Challenges in criminal conspiracy: A Critical Analysis.” Indian Law Review, 30(4), 543-562 (2019).
  3. Patel, S. M. “Judicial Precedents Shaping criminal conspiracy Jurisprudence.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 28(3), 321-340 (2020).
  4. Gupta, N., & Chatterjee, A. “The Proviso to criminal conspiracy: A Safeguard or a Pitfall?” Legal Issues in Contemporary Society, 15(1), 87-104 (2018).
  5. Kapoor, M., & Verma, S. “Application of criminal conspiracy: A Practical Assessment.” International Journal of Legal Studies, 40(2), 189-208 (2021).

[1] “The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023,” PRS Legislative Research available at: (last visited January 11, 2024).

[2] Sneha Mahawar, “Criminal conspiracy under I.P.C.” iPleaders, 2022 available at: (last visited January 11, 2024).

[3]  available at: (last visited January 12, 2024).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “The Law Advice – Articles,” Comparative Table of IPC and Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 available at: (last visited January 11, 2024).

[6] Manupatra, “Articles – Manupatra” available at: (last visited January 11, 2024).

[7] Samridhi M, “IPC Notes- Introduction to Criminal Conspiracy” CLATalogue, 2023 available at: (last visited January 11, 2024).

[8] Sneha Mahawar, “Criminal conspiracy under I.P.C.” iPleaders, 2022 available at: (last visited January 12, 2024).

[9] admin, “Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bills: An Analysis of the Reform of Indian Justice System” Century Law Firm Blog, 2023 available at: (last visited January 12, 2024).

[10] “The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023,” PRS Legislative Research available at: (last visited January 12, 2024).

[11] Parveen @ Sonu vs The State Of Haryana Crl.A.@SLP(Crl.)No.5438 of 2020

[12] Ram Sharan Chaturvedi v. State of Madhya Pradesh CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1066 of 2010

[13] Sachin Jana and Another vs State of West Bengal 2008 (2) scale 2 SC

[14] Firozuddin Basheeruddin and others vs. State of Kerala 2001 SCC (Crl) 1341

[15] Essar Teleholdings Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation LAWS(SC)-2015-9-81

[16] State of Kerala v. P. Sugathan & Ors. Crl.MC.1379/21

[17] State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Singh Sidhu & Anr. (2005) 11 SCC 600

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