Theory of Agency and Conspiracy
62) An important facet of the Law of Conspiracy is that apart from it being a distinct offence, all conspirators are liable for the acts of each other of the crime or crimes which have been committed as a result of the conspiracy. This principle has been recognized right from the early judgment in Regina vs. Murphy (1873) 173 ER 502. In the said judgment Coleridge J. while summing up for the Jury stated as follows:
“…I am bound to tell you, that although the common design is the root of the charge, it is not necessary to prove that these two parties came together and actually agreed in terms to have this common design and to pursue it by comroeff means, and so to carry it into execution. This is not necessary, because in many cases of the most clearly established conspiracies there are no means of proving any such thing and neither law nor common sense requires that it should be proved. If you find that these two persons pursued by their acts the same object, often by the same means, one performing one part of an act, so as to complete it, with a view to the attainment of the object which they were pursuing, you will be at liberty to draw the conclusion that they have been engaged in a conspiracy to effect that object. The question you have to ask yourselves is, ‘Had they this common design, and did they pursue it by these common means — the design being unlawful?’ it is not necessary that it should be proved that these defendants met to concoct this scheme, nor is it necessary that they should have originated it. If a conspiracy be already formed, and a person joins it afterwards, he is equally guilty. You are to say whether, from the acts that have been proved, you are satisfied that these defendants were acting in concertin this matter.
If you are satisfied that there was concert between them, I am bound to say that being convinced of the conspiracy, it is not necessary that you should find both Mr. Murphy and Mr. Douglas doing each particular act, as after the fact of conspiracy is already established in your minds, whatever is either said or done by either of the defendants in pursuance of the common design, is, both in law and in common sense, to be considered as the acts of both.”
63) Each conspirator can be attributed each others actions in a conspiracy. Theory of agency applies and this rule existed even prior to the amendment of the Penal Code in India. This is reflected in the rule of evidence u/s 10 of the Evidence Act. Conspiracy is punishable independent of its fruition. The principle of agency as a rule of liability and not merely a rule of evidence has been accepted both by the Privy Council as well as by this Court. The following judgments are relevant for this proposition:
(a) Babulal vs. Emperor, AIR 1938 PC 130, where the Privy Council held that:
“if several persons conspire to commit offences, and commit overt acts in pursuance of the conspiracy (a circumstance which makes the act of one the act of each and all the conspirators) these acts are committed in the course of the same transaction, which embraces the conspiracy and the acts done under it…”
(b) State of A.P. vs. Kandimalla Subbaiah (1962) 1 SCR 194, where this Court opined that where a number of offences are committed by several persons in pursuance of a conspiracy it is usual to charge them with those offences as well as with the offence of conspiracy to commit those offences, if the alleged offences flow out of the conspiracy, the appropriate form of charge would be a specific charge in respect of each of those offences along with the charge of conspiracy.
(c) State of H.P. vs. Krishan Lal Pardhan, (1987) 2 SCC 17 where it was held that the offence of criminal conspiracy consists of meeting of minds of two or more persons for agreeing to do or causing to be done an illegal act or an act by illegal means, and the performance of an act in terms thereof. If pursuant to the criminal conspiracy the conspirators commit several offences, then all of them will be liable for the offences even if some of them had not actively participated in the commission of the offences.
(d) In Nalini (supra), this Court explained that conspiracy results in a joint responsibility and everything said written or done in furtherance of the common purpose is deemed to have been done by each of them. The Court held:
“583. Some of the broad principles governing the law of conspiracy may be summarized though, as the name implies, a summary cannot be exhaustive of the principles.
1. Under Section 120-A IPC offence of criminal conspiracy is committed when two or more persons agree to do or cause to be done an illegal act or legal act by illegal means. When it is a legal act by illegal means overt act is necessary. Offence of criminal conspiracy is an exception to the general law where intent alone does not constitute crime. It is intention to commit crime and joining hands with persons having the same intention. Not only the intention but there has to be agreement to carry out the object of the intention, which is an offence. The question for consideration in a case is did all the accused have the intention and did they agree that the crime be committed. It would not be enough for the offence of conspiracy when some of the accused merely entertained a wish, howsoever horrendous it may be, that offence be committed.
2. Acts subsequent to the achieving of the object of conspiracy may tend to prove that a particular accused was party to the conspiracy. Once the object of conspiracy has been achieved, any subsequent act, which may be unlawful, would not make the accused a part of the conspiracy like giving shelter to an absconder.
3. Conspiracy is hatched in private or in secrecy. It is rarely possible to establish a conspiracy by direct evidence. Usually, both the existence of the conspiracy and its objects have to be inferred from the circumstances and the conduct of the accused.
4. Conspirators may for example, be enrolled in a chain- A enrolling B, B enrolling C, and so on; and all will be members of a single conspiracy if they so intend and agree, even though each member knows only the person who enrolled him and the person whom he enrols. There may be a kind of umbrella-spoke enrolment, where a single person at the center does the enrolling and all the other members are unknown to each other, though they know that there are to be other members. These are theories and in practice it may be difficult to tell which conspiracy in a particular case falls into which category. It may however, even overlap. But then there has to be present mutual interest. Persons may be members of single conspiracy even though each is ignorant of the identity of many others who may have diverse roles to play. It is not a part of the crime of conspiracy that all the conspirators need to agree to play the same or an active role.
5. When two or more persons agree to commit a crime of conspiracy, then regardless of making or considering any plans for its commission, and despite the fact that no step is taken by any such person to carry out their common purpose, a crime is committed by each and every one who joins in the agreement. There has thus to be two conspirators and there may be more than that. To prove the charge of conspiracy it is not necessary that intended crime was committed or not. If committed it may further help prosecution to prove the charge of conspiracy.
6. It is not necessary that all conspirators should agree to the common purpose at the same time. They may join with other conspirators at any time before the consummation of the intended objective, and all are equally responsible. What part each conspirator is to play may not be known to everyone or the fact as to when a conspirator joined the conspiracy and when he left.
7. A charge of conspiracy may prejudice the accused because it forces them into a joint trial and the court may consider the entire mass of evidence against every accused. Prosecution has to produce evidence not only to show that each of the accused has knowledge of the object of conspiracy but also of the agreement. In the charge of conspiracy the court has to guard itself against the danger of unfairness to the accused. Introduction of evidence against some may result in the conviction of all, which is to be avoided. By means of evidence in conspiracy, which is otherwise inadmissible in the trial of any other substantive offence prosecution tries to implicate the accused not only in the conspiracy itself but also in the substantive crime of the alleged conspirators. There is always difficulty in tracing the precise contribution of each member of the conspiracy but then there has to be cogent and convincing evidence against each one of the accused charged with the offence of conspiracy. As observed by Judge Learned Hand “this distinction is important today when many prosecutors seek to sweep within the dragnet of conspiracy all those who have been associated in any degree whatever with the main offenders”.
8. As stated above it is the unlawful agreement and not its accomplishment, which is the gist or essence of the crime of conspiracy. Offence of criminal conspiracy is complete even though there is no agreement as to the means by which the purpose is to be accomplished. It is the unlawful agreement which is the gravamen of the crime of conspiracy. The unlawful agreement which amounts to a conspiracy need not be formal or express, but may be inherent in and inferred from the circumstances, especially declarations, acts and conduct of the conspirators. The agreement need not be entered into by all the parties to it at the same time, but may be reached by successive actions evidencing their joining of the conspiracy.
9. It has been said that a criminal conspiracy is a partnership in crime, and that there is in each conspiracy a joint or mutual agency for the prosecution of a common plan. Thus, if two or more persons enter into a conspiracy, any act done by any of them pursuant to the agreement is, in contemplation of law, the act of each of them and they are jointly responsible therefore. This means that everything said, written or done by any of the conspirators in execution or furtherance of the common purpose is deemed to have been said, done or written by each of them. And this joint responsibility extends not only to what is done by any of the conspirators pursuant to the original agreement but also to collateral acts incidental to and growing out of the original purpose. A conspirator is not responsible, however, for acts done by a co-conspirator after termination of the conspiracy. The joinder of a conspiracy by a new member does not create a new conspiracy nor does it change the status of the other conspirators, and the mere fact that conspirators individually or in groups perform different tasks to a common end does not split up a conspiracy into several different conspiracies.
10. A man may join a conspiracy by word or by deed. However, criminal responsibility for a conspiracy requires more than a merely passive attitude towards an existing conspiracy. One who commits an overt act with knowledge of the conspiracy is guilty. And one who tacitly consents to the object of a conspiracy and goes along with other conspirators, actually standing by while the others put the conspiracy into effect, is guilty though he intends to take no active part in the crime.” (emphasis supplied)
64) The offence under Section 120B is a crime between the parties to do a particular act. Association or relation to lead conspiracy is not enough to establish the intention to kill the deceased. To make it clear, to bring home the charge of conspiracy within the ambit of Section 120B, it is necessary to establish that there was an agreement between the parties for doing an unlawful act. It is difficult to establish conspiracy by direct evidence.
65) Since conspiracy is hatched in secrecy, to bring home the charge of conspiracy, it is relevant to decide conclusively the object behind it from the charges leveled against the accused and the facts of the case. The object behind it is the ultimate aim of the conspiracy. Further, many means might have been adopted to achieve this ultimate object. The means may even constitute different offences by themselves, but as long as they are adopted to achieve the ultimate object of the conspiracy, they are also acts of conspiracy.
66) In Ajay Aggarwal vs. Union of India, AIR 1993 SC 1637, this Court rejected the submission of the accused that as he was staying in Dubai and the conspiracy was initially hatched in Chandigarh and he did not play an active part in the commission of the acts which ultimately lead to the incident, thus, could not be liable for any offence, observing:
“8…..Section 120-A of the IPC defines ‘conspiracy’ to mean that 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 as “criminal conspiracy”. 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 furtherance thereof. Section 120-B of the IPC prescribes punishment for criminal conspiracy. It is not necessary that each conspirator must know all the details of the scheme nor be a participant at every stage. It is necessary that they should agree for design or object of the conspiracy. Conspiracy is conceived as having three elements: (1) agreement (2) between two or more persons by whom the agreement is effected; and (3) a criminal object, which may be either the ultimate aim of the agreement, or may constitute the means, or one of the means by which that aim is to be accomplished. It is immaterial whether this is found in the ultimate objects. The common law definition of ‘criminal conspiracy’ was stated first by Lord Denman in Jones case (1832) that an indictment for conspiracy must “charge a conspiracy to do an unlawful act by unlawful means…..” The Court, thus, held that an agreement between two or more persons to do an illegal act or legal act by illegal means is criminal conspiracy.
Conspiracy itself is a substantive offence and is distinct from the offence to be committed, for which the conspiracy was entered into. A conspiracy is a continuing offence and continues to subsist and is committed wherever one of the conspirators does an act or series of acts. So long as its performance continues, it is a continuing offence till it is executed or rescinded or frustrated by choice or necessity. A crime is complete as soon as the agreement is made, but it is not a thing of the moment. It does not end with the making of the agreement. It will continue so long as there are two or more parties to it intending to carry into effect the design. (Vide: Sudhir Shantilal Mehta vs. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2009) 8 SCC 1)
67) In Yash Pal Mittal vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1977 SC 2433, the rule was laid down as follows:
“The very agreement, concert or league is the ingredient of the offence. It is not necessary that all the conspirators must know each and every detail of the conspiracy as long as they are co-
participators in the main object of the conspiracy. There may be so many devices and techniques adopted to achieve the common goal of the conspiracy and there may be division of performances in the chain of actions with one object to achieve the real end of which every collaborator must be aware and in which each one of them must be interested. There must be unity of object or purpose but there may be plurality of means sometimes even unknown to one another, amongst the conspirators. In achieving the goal, several offences may be committed by some of the conspirators even unknown to the others. The only relevant factor is that all means adopted and illegal acts done must be and purported to be in furtherance of the object of the conspiracy even though there may be sometimes misfire or over-shooting by some of the conspirators.”
68) For an offence under Section 120B IPC, the prosecution need not necessarily prove that the conspirators expressly agreed to do or cause to be done the illegal act, the agreement may be proved by necessary implication. It is not necessary that each member of the conspiracy must know all the details of the conspiracy. The offence can be proved largely from the inferences drawn from the acts or illegal omission committed by the conspirators in pursuance of a common design. Being a continuing offence, if any acts or omissions which constitute an offence are done in India or outside its territory, the conspirators continuing to be the parties to the conspiracy and since part of the acts were done in India, they would obviate the need to obtain the sanction of the Central Government. All of them need not be present in India nor continue to remain in India. The entire agreement must be viewed as a whole and it has to be ascertained as to what in fact the conspirators intended to do or the object they wanted to achieve. (Vide: R.K. Dalmia vs. Delhi Administration, AIR 1962 SC 1821; Lennart Schussler & Anr. vs. Director of Enforcement & Anr., (1970) 1 SCC 152; Shivanarayan Laxminarayan Joshi vs. State of Maharashtra, (1980) 2 SCC 465 and Mohammad Usman Mohammad Hussain Maniyar and Another vs. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1981 SC 1062)
69) In Yogesh @ Sachin Jagdish Joshi vs. State of Maharashtra, (2008) 10 SCC 394, this Court held:
“25 Thus, it is manifest that the meeting of minds of two or more persons for doing an illegal act or an act by illegal means is sine qua non of the criminal conspiracy but it may not be possible to prove the agreement between them by direct proof. Nevertheless, existence of the conspiracy and its objective can be inferred from the surrounding circumstances and the conduct of the accused. But the incriminating circumstances must form a chain of events from which a conclusion about the guilt of the accused could be drawn. It is well settled that an offence of conspiracy is a substantive offence and renders the mere agreement to commit an offence punishable, even if an offence does not take place pursuant to the illegal agreement.”
70) In Nirmal Singh Kahlon vs. State of Punjab, AIR 2009 SC 984, this Court following Ram Lal Narang vs. State (Delhi Admn.), AIR 1979 SC 1791, held that a conspiracy may be a general one and a separate one, meaning thereby, a larger conspiracy and a smaller one which may develop in successive stages.
71) In K.R. Purushothaman vs. State of Kerala, (2005) 12 SCC 631, this Court held:
“11. Section 120-A IPC defines ‘criminal conspiracy’. According to this section when two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done
(i) an illegal act, or (ii) an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.…..The existence of conspiracy and its objects are usually deduced from the circumstances of the case and the conduct of the accused involved in the conspiracy…”
72) In State of Maharashtra vs. Som Nath Thapa, AIR 1996 SC 1744, this Court held :
“…to establish a charge of conspiracy knowledge about indulgence in either an illegal act or a legal act by illegal means is necessary.
In some cases, intent of unlawful use being made of the goods or services in question may be inferred from the knowledge itself. This apart, the prosecution has not to establish that a particular unlawful use was intended……The ultimate offence consists of a chain of actions, it would not be necessary for the prosecution to establish, to bring home the charge of conspiracy, that each of the conspirators had the knowledge of what the collaborator would do, so long as it is known that the collaborator would put the goods or service to an unlawful use.”
73) In State through Superintendent of Police, CBI/SIT vs. Nalini & Ors., (1999) 5 SCC 253, this Court held:
“……Offence of criminal conspiracy is an exception to the general law where intent alone does not constitute crime. It is intention to commit crime and joining hands with persons having the same intention. Not only the intention but there has to be agreement to carry out the object of the intention, which is an offence. The question for consideration in a case is did all the accused have the intention and did they agree that the crime be committed. It would not be enough for the offence of conspiracy when some of the accused merely entertained a wish, howsoever horrendous it may be, that offence be committed………It is not necessary that all conspirators should agree to the common purpose at the same time. They may join with other conspirators at any time before the consummation of the intended objective, and all are equally responsible……Prosecution has to produce evidence not only to show that each of the accused has knowledge of the object of conspiracy but also of the agreement. In the charge of conspiracy the court has to guard itself against the danger of unfairness to the accused……There has to be cogent and convincing evidence against each one of the accused charged with the offence of conspiracy…….it is the unlawful agreement and not its accomplishment, which is the gist or essence of the crime of conspiracy. Offence of criminal conspiracy is complete even though there is no agreement as to the means by which the purpose is to be accomplished. It is the unlawful agreement which is the gravamen of the crime of conspiracy. The unlawful agreement which amounts to a conspiracy need not be formal or express, but may be inherent in and inferred from the circumstances, especially declarations, acts and conduct of the conspirators. The agreement need not be entered into by all the parties to it at the same time, but may be reached by successive actions evidencing their joining of the conspiracy.
The agreement, sine qua non of conspiracy, may be proved either by direct evidence which is rarely available in such cases or it may be inferred from utterances, writings, acts, omissions and conduct of the parties to the conspiracy which is usually done. In view of Section 10 of the Evidence Act anything said, done or written by those who enlist their support to the object of conspiracy and those who join later or make their exit before completion of the object in furtherance of their common intention will be relevant facts to prove that each one of them can justifiably be treated as a conspirator.” (See Also: Kehar Singh & Ors. vs. State (Delhi Admn.), AIR 1988 SC 1883)
74) In Firozuddin Basheeruddin & Ors. vs. State of Kerala, (2001) 7 SCC 596, this Court held:
“Like most crimes, conspiracy requires an act (actus reus) and an accompanying mental state (mens rea). The agreement constitutes the act, and the intention to achieve the unlawful objective of that agreement constitutes the required mental state…..The law punishes conduct that threatens to produce the harm, as well as conduct that has actually produced it. Contrary to the usual rule that an attempt to commit a crime merges with the completed offence, conspirators may be tried and punished for both the conspiracy and the completed crime. The rationale of conspiracy is that the required objective manifestation of disposition to criminality is provided by the act of agreement. Conspiracy is a clandestine activity. Persons generally do not form illegal covenants openly. In the interests of security, a person may carry out his part of a conspiracy without even being informed of the identity of his co-conspirators…….
Conspiracy is not only a substantive crime, it also serves as a basis for holding one person liable for the crimes of others in cases where application of the usual doctrines of complicity would not render that person liable. Thus, one who enters into a conspiratorial relationship is liable for every reasonably foreseeable crime committed by every other member of the conspiracy in furtherance of its objectives, whether or not he knew of the crimes or aided in their commission. The rationale is that criminal acts done in furtherance of a conspiracy may be sufficiently dependent upon the encouragement and support of the group as a whole to warrant treating each member as a causal agent to each act. Under this view, which of the conspirators committed the substantive offence would be less significant in determining the defendant’s liability than the fact that the crime was performed as a part of a larger division of labour to which the accused had also contributed his efforts.
Regarding admissibility of evidence, loosened standards prevail in a conspiracy trial. Contrary to the usual rule, in conspiracy prosecutions, any declaration by one conspirator, made in furtherance of a conspiracy and during its pendency, is admissible against each co-
conspirator. Despite the unreliability of hearsay evidence, it is admissible in conspiracy prosecutions………Thus conspirators are liable on an agency theory for statements of co-conspirators, just as they are for the overt acts and crimes committed by their confréres.” (See also: State (NCT of Delhi) vs. Navjot Sandhu @ Afsan Guru, (2005) 11 SCC 600)
75) In Ram Narayan Popli vs. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2003) 3 SCC 641, this Court held:
“…….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, and (d) in the jurisdiction where the statute required an overt act. The essence of a criminal conspiracy is the unlawful combination and ordinarily the offence is complete when the combination is framed. From this, it necessarily follows that unless the statute so requires, no overt act need be done in furtherance of the conspiracy, and that the object of the combination need not be accomplished, in order to constitute an indictable offence. Law making conspiracy a crime is designed to curb immoderate power to do mischief which is gained by a combination of the means. The encouragement and support which co-conspirators give to one another rendering enterprises possible which, if left to individual effort, would have been impossible, furnish the ground for visiting conspirators and abettors with condign punishment. The conspiracy is held to be continued and renewed as to all its members wherever and whenever any member of the conspiracy acts in furtherance of the common design.”
76) In Mohd. Khalid vs. State of West Bengal, (2002) 7 SCC 334, this Court held:
“Where trustworthy evidence establishing all links of circumstantial evidence is available the confession of a co-accused as to conspiracy even without corroborative evidence can be taken into consideration.”
77) In the present case, the conspiracy might have been started in Dubai but ultimately it continued here in India and a part of the object was executed in India and even in the conspiratorial meetings at Dubai, the matter was discussed with respect to India and amongst Indian citizens.
Further, as far as the present accused is concerned, the fact that he was constantly present at Al-Hussaini building, where the major part of the plans have been made and executed, is established, and his active involvement has also emerged from the evidence on record as to how he was dealing with the so called men of Tiger, managing the ill gotten money of Tiger, booking tickets and actively working for confirming them for the conspirators. Further, there is enough evidence of meeting with co-accused and his actively working in furtherance of the conspiracy. The present accused need not be present at each and every meeting for being held to be a part of the conspiracy.
78) Section 10 of the Evidence Act further provides a unique and special rule of evidence to be followed in cases of conspiracy. Section 10 reads as under:
“10. Things said or done by conspirator in reference to common design– Where there is reasonable ground to believe that two or more persons have conspired together to commit an offence or an actionable wrong, anything said, done or written by any one of such persons in reference to their common intention, after the time when such intention was first entertained by any one of them, is a relevant fact as against each of the persons believed to so conspiring, as well for the purpose of proving the existence of the conspiracy as for the purpose of showing that any such person was a party to it.” Illustrations
(i) Reasonable ground exists for believing that A has joined in a conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India.
(ii) The facts that B procured arms in Europe for the purpose of the conspiracy, C collected money in Calcutta for a like object, D persuaded persons to join the conspiracy in Bombay, E published writings advocating the object in view at Agra, and F transmitted from Delhi to G at Kabul the money which C had collected at Calcutta, and the contents of a letter written by H giving an account of the conspiracy, are each relevant, both to prove the existence of the conspiracy, and to prove A’ s complicity in it, although he may have been ignorant of all of them, and although the persons by whom they were done were strangers to him, and although they may have taken place before he joined the conspiracy or after he left it.
It is to be seen that there are three conditions in the Section. One is, before utilizing the section for admitting certain statements of the co- accused from a confession, there should be a reasonable ground to believe that two or more persons have conspired together to commit an offence or an actionable wrong. According to this Section, only when this condition is satisfied in a given case, then only the question of utilizing the statement of an accused against the co-accused can be taken into consideration. Thus, as per Section 10, the following principles are agreed upon unanimously:-
1. There shall be prima facie evidence affording a reasonable ground for the Court to believe that two or more persons were part of a conspiracy to commit a wrongful act or offence;
2. Once this condition was fulfilled, anything said, done or written by any of its members, in reference to their common intention, will be considered as evidence against other co-conspirators;
3. This fact would be evidence for the purpose of existence of a conspiracy and that the persons were a part of such conspiracy.
79) This Court, in Nalini (supra), observed as under:
(a) Justice Thomas (para 106-113) Theory of Agency, according to him, is the basic principle which underlines Section 10 of the Evidence Act. He says that the first condition for application of Section 10 is “reasonable ground to believe” that the conspirators have conspired together based on prima facie evidence. If this condition is fulfilled, anything said by any of the conspirators becomes substantive evidence for the purpose of corroboration if the statement is in reference to their common intention (This is much wider than its English counterpart which uses the expression in furtherance of the common object). The arrest of a conspirator will not cut-off his connection with the conspiracy.
(b) Justice Wadhwa concurring, (para 575-581) He was of the opinion that before considering the principle of Section 10 and applying it to the facts and circumstances, it is necessary to ascertain the period of conspiracy because any statement made before or after the conspiracy is thatched will not be admissible under the aforesaid section. It would also be relevant against a person who entered or left the time frame during the existence of conspiracy.
(c) Justice Wadhwa (para 663-665) Two conditions are to be followed:- firstly, reasonable ground to believe conspiracy, and secondly, conspiracy is to commit an offence or an actionable wrong. If both the conditions exist, then anything said or done can be used as a relevant fact against one another, to prove the existence of conspiracy and that the person was a part to it.
80) In the case on hand, the first condition for applying Section 10 of the Evidence Act is satisfied by the evidence of PWs 1 and 2 (approvers). There are 77 confessions in this case which are voluntary and are corroborated with the other circumstances of the case. These confessions contain statements inculpating the makers as well as the co-accused. A common charge of conspiracy was framed against all the co-conspirators including A-1. This is evident from the charges framed by the Special Judge which we have already extracted. On all the aforesaid charges, the appellant was found guilty by the Designated Court. The evidence in respect of A-1 is in the nature of the confessions made by the co-accused persons, the testimony of prosecution witnesses and documentary evidence on record.
81) The law on the issue emerges to the effect that conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to do an illegal act or an act which is not illegal by illegal means. The object behind the conspiracy is to achieve the ultimate aim of conspiracy. In order to achieve the ultimate object, parties may adopt many means. Such means may constitute different offences by themselves, but so long as they are adopted to achieve the ultimate object of the conspiracy, they are also acts of conspiracy. For an offence of conspiracy, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that conspirators expressly agreed to do an illegal act, the agreement may be proved by necessary implication. It is also not necessary that each member of the conspiracy should know all the details of the conspiracy. Conspiracy is a continuing offence. Thus, if any act or omission which constitutes an offence is done in India or outside its territory, the conspirators continue to be the parties to the conspiracy. The conspiracy may be a general one and a smaller one which may develop in successive stages. It is an unlawful agreement and not its accomplishment, which is the gist/essence of the crime of conspiracy. In order to determine whether the conspiracy was hatched, the court is required to view the entire agreement and to find out as in fact what the conspirators intended to do.
82) Mr. Jaspal Singh, learned senior counsel for A-1, submitted that from the evidence of PW-2 (Approver), it is evident that various meetings were held on and from 02.02.1993 till 11.03.1993 at various places in and around Bombay. By taking us through the entire evidence of PW-2, he submitted that neither PW-2 nor any other co-accused nor even any independent witness/evidence spoken to about the role of A-1 either being aware of the said meetings or being present in them or having any knowledge about what conspired in the said meetings. Though learned senior counsel has vehemently contended that A-1 was neither involved in arranging for landing of arms and ammunitions nor in conducting surveys and choosing targets nor in filling vehicles with RDX and arms nor in the meeting held at Al- Hussaini building, the specific instances as stated by various prosecution witnesses amply prove his involvement.
83) Apart from the evidence of PW-2, several accused persons in their confessional statements and other witnesses examined on the side of the prosecution clearly implicate A-1 and his involvement in all the events which we are going to discuss under various heads.
84) It also emerged from the prosecution evidence that conspiratorial meetings were also held on 06.01.1993 at Hotel Parsian Darbar, Panvel which were attended by A-136, A-90, A-102, A-134 and Md. Dosa, (AA), middle of January, 1993 at Dubai attended by A-14 and Tiger Memon (AA) and Dawood Ibrahim (AA) leading to the landing of arms and ammunitions at Dighi Jetty and Shekhadi. These meetings formed the genesis of the conspiracy and it was at these meetings that meeting of minds occurred and knowledge was obtained by the co-conspirators and their intention was expressed to further the cause of the said conspiracy. Since we have elaborately discussed the constituents relating to the conspiracy, there is no need to refer to the same in subsequent appeals before us. It is also evident that a common charge of conspiracy was framed against all the accused persons. In view of the above, we are satisfied that the prosecution has placed sufficient acceptable materials to prove the charge of conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt which we will analyse in the later part of our judgment. Confession
85) In this heading, we have to consider the confession made by accused and co-accused persons relied on by the prosecution. Before going into the acceptability or otherwise and merits of the claim made by both the parties relating to the confession of the accused and co-accused, it is useful to refer to the relevant provisions of the Code as well as TADA.
86) Section 164 of the Code speaks about recording of confession and statement which is as under:-
“164. Recording of confessions and statements.–(1) Any Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate may, whether or not he has jurisdiction in the case, record any confession or statement made to him in the course of an investigation under this Chapter or under any other law for the time being in force, or at any, time afterwards before the commencement of the inquiry or trial:
Provided that any confession or statement made under this sub-section may also be recorded by audio-video electronic means in the presence of the advocate of the person accused of an offence:
Provided that no confession shall be recorded by a police officer on whom any power of a Magistrate has been conferred under any law for the time being in force.
(2) The Magistrate shall, before recording any such confession, explain to the person making it that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he does so, it may be used as evidence against him; and the Magistrate shall not record any such confession unless, upon questioning the person making it, he has reason to believe that it is being, made voluntarily.
(3) If at any time before the confession is recorded, the person appearing before the Magistrate states that he is not willing to make the confession, the Magistrate shall not authorize the detention of such person in police custody.
(4) Any such confession shall be recorded in the manner provided in section 281 for recording the examination of an accused person and shall be signed by the person making the confession; and the Magistrate shall make a memorandum at the foot of such record to the following effect.
“I have explained to (name) that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he does so, any confession he may make may be used as evidence against him and I believe that this confession was voluntarily made. It was taken in my presence and hearing, and was read over to the person making it and admitted by him to be correct, and it contains a full and true account of the statement made by him.
(5) Any statement (other than a confession) made under sub-section (1) shall be recorded in such manner hereinafter provided for the recording of evidence as is, in the opinion of the Magistrate, best fitted to the circumstances of the case; and the Magistrate shall have power to administer oath to the person whose statement is so recorded.
(6) The Magistrate recording a confession or statement under this section shall forward it to the Magistrate by whom the case is to be inquired into or tried.”
87) Insofar as interpretation relating to Section 164 of the Code, particularly, recording of the same and procedures to be adopted, this very Bench in Rabindra Kumar Pal @ Dara Singh vs. Republic of India (2011) 2 SCC 490 after considering large number of judgments on the issue laid down the following principles:
“64 (i) The provisions of Section 164 CrPC must be complied with not only in form, but in essence.
(ii) Before proceeding to record the confessional statement, a searching enquiry must be made from the accused as to the custody from which he was produced and the treatment he had been receiving in such custody in order to ensure that there is no scope for doubt of any sort of extraneous influence proceeding from a source interested in the prosecution.
(iii) A Magistrate should ask the accused as to why he wants to make a statement which surely shall go against his interest in the trial.
(iv) The maker should be granted sufficient time for reflection.
(v) He should be assured of protection from any sort of apprehended torture or pressure from the police in case he declines to make a confessional statement.
(vi) A judicial confession not given voluntarily is unreliable, more so, when such a confession is retracted, the conviction cannot be based on such retracted judicial confession.
(vii) Non-compliance with Section 164 CrPC goes to the root of the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to record the confession and renders the confession unworthy of credence.
(viii) During the time of reflection, the accused should be completely out of police influence. The judicial officer, who is entrusted with the duty of recording confession, must apply his judicial mind to ascertain and satisfy his conscience that the statement of the accused is not on account of any extraneous influence on him.
(ix) At the time of recording the statement of the accused, no police or police official shall be present in the open court.
(x) Confession of a co-accused is a weak type of evidence.
(xi) Usually the court requires some corroboration from the confessional statement before convicting the accused person on such a statement.” [See also Kalawati & Anr. vs. State of H.P. AIR 1953 SC 131; Dagdu & Ors. vs. State of Maharashtra (1977) 3 SCC 68; Davendra Prasad Tiwari vs. State of U.P. (1978) 4 SCC 474; Shivappa vs. Stae of Karnataka (1995) 2 SCC 76; Nalini (supra) (1999) 5 SCC 253; State of Maharashtra vs. Damu (2000) 6 SCC 269; Bhagwan Singh & Ors. vs. State of M.P. (2003) 3 SCC 21; Gurjinder Singh vs. State of Punjab (2011) 3 SCC 530; Surender Koli vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. (2011) 4 SCC 80; Kulvinder Singh & Anr. vs. State of Haryana (2011) 5 SCC 258; and Inspector of Police, T.N. vs. John David (2011) 5 SCC 509.] Law relating to Confessions under TADA
88) Similar provision is there in TADA, namely, Section 15 which reads as under:
15. Certain confessions made to police officers to be taken into consideration.- (1) Nothwithstanding anything in the Code or in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, but subject to the provisions of this section, a confession made by a person before a police officer not lower in rank than a Superintendent of Police and recorded by such police officer in writing or on any mechanical device like cassettes, tapes or sound tracks from out of which sounds or images can be reproduced, shall be admissible in the trial of such person or [co- accused, abettor or conspirator] for an offence under this Act or rules made thereunder:
Provided that co-accused, abettor or conspirator is charged and tried in the same case together with the accused.
(2) The police officer shall, before recording any confession under sub-section (1), explain to the person making it that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he does so, it may be used as evidence against him and such police officer shall not record any such confession unless upon questioning the person making it, he has reason to believe that it is being made voluntarily.
The bracketed words ‘[or co-accused, abettor or conspiractor]’ and the proviso in Section 15(1) above were added by way of an amendment on 22.05.1993. The amendments to TADA dated 22.05.1993 were not only in respect of Section 15(1) of TADA but also with respect to Section 21 of TADA (Presumption as to Offences under Section 3). The un-amended Section 21 is reproduced as under for ready reference:
“21. Presumption as to offences under Section 3. – (1) In a prosecution for an offence under sub-section (1) of Section 3, if it is proved –
(a) that the arms or explosives or any other substances specified in Section 3 were recovered from the possession of the accused and there is reason to believe that such arms or explosives or other substances of similar nature, were used in the commission of such offence; or
(b) that by the evidence of an expert the fingerprints of the accused were found at the site of the offence or on anything including arms and vehicles used in connection with the commission of such offence; or “(c) that a confession has been made by a co-accused that the accused had committed the offence; or
(d) that the accused had made a confession of the offence to any person other than a police officer (deleted by Act 43 of 1993)” The Designated Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that the accused had committed such offence.
(2) In a prosecution for an offence under sub-section 3 of Section 3, if it is proved that the accused rendered any financial assistance to a person accused of, or reasonably suspected of, an offence under that section, the Designated Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that such person has committed the offence under that sub-
section.” (emphasis supplied)
89) Admissibility of confession against co-accused under Section 15 of TADA was considered in Nalini (supra). This Court, while considering the provisions of Section 15 of TADA and Rule 15 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (P) Rules, 1987 (in short ‘the Rules’) held:
“…..the confession of one accused as against a co-accused to be substantive evidence against the latter, and in the absence of proof to the contrary, the Designated Court would have full power to base a conviction of the co-accused upon the confession made by another accused” This Court further held:
“In view of the above discussions, we hold the confessions of the accused in the present case to be voluntarily and validly made and under Section 15 of TADA confession of an accused is admissible against a co-accused as a substantive evidence. Substantive evidence, however, does not necessarily mean substantial evidence. It is the quality of evidence that matters. As to what value is to be attached to a confession will fall within the domain of appreciation of evidence. As a matter of prudence, the Court may look for some corroboration if confession is to be used against a co-accused through that will again be within the sphere of appraisal of evidence.”
90) In Ahmed Hussein Vali Mohammed Saiyed & Anr. vs. State of Gujarat (2009) 7 SCC 254, this Court held that it is no more res integra that a confession recorded under Section 15 is a substantive piece of evidence against the accused and co-accused. However, in case of co-accused, as a rule of prudence, the court would look upon corroborative evidence as well.
91) In Jayawant Dattatray Suryarao vs. State of Mharashtra, (2001) 10 SCC 109, this Court considered in detail the evidentiary value and admissibility of a confessional statement recorded under Section 15 of TADA and held that it is a settled legal position that a confessional statement recorded by a police officer is a substantive evidence and it can be relied upon in the trial of such person or co-accused, abettor or conspirator so long as the requirements of Section 15 and TADA rules are complied with.
It was observed:
“60. …. Confessional statement before the police officer under Section 15 of the TADA is substantive evidence and it can be relied upon in the trial of such person or co-accused, abettor or conspirator for an offence punishable under the Act or the Rules. The police officer before recording the confession has to observe the requirement of sub-section (2) of Section 15. Irregularities here and there would not make such confessional statement inadmissible in evidence. If the legislature in its wisdom has provided after considering the situation prevailing in the society that such confessional statement can be used as evidence, it would not be just, reasonable and prudent to water down the scheme of the Act on the assumption that the said statement was recorded under duress or was not recorded truly by the officer concerned in whom faith is reposed.” It was further held by this Court that minor irregularities do not make the confessional statement inadmissible as substantive evidence and observed as under:
”50. In this view of settled legal position, confessional statement is admissible in evidence and is substantive evidence. It also could be relied upon for connecting the co-accused with the crime. Minor irregularity would not vitiate its evidentiary value……..”
92) In Ravinder Singh @ Bittu vs. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 9 SCC 55, this Court, while considering the reliability of a confession recorded under Section 15 of TADA against the maker, as well as the co-accused, held that after State vs. Nalini, Kalpnath Rai vs. CBI does not reflect the correct position of law. It was observed:
“13. In Kalpnath Rai v. State (through CBI) it was observed that the confession made by one accused is not substantive evidence against a co-accused. It has only a corroborative value. In the present case, we are, however, primarily concerned with the confession made by the maker i.e. the appellant himself. Besides this confession, there is also a confession made by co-accused Nishan Singh which too implicates the appellant in commission of the offence of the bomb blast in the train. The observations made in Kalpnath Rai case were considered in State through Supdt. of Police, CBI/SIT v. Nalini, a decision by a three-Judge Bench. “It was held that the confession recorded under Section 15 of the TADA Act is to be considered as a substantive piece of evidence not only against the maker of it but also against its co-
accused. In this view, the observations in Kalpnath Rai case do not represent the correct position of law.” It was further held that:
17. It is thus well established that a voluntary and truthful confessional statement recorded under Section 15 of the TADA Act requires no corroboration. Here, we are concerned primarily with the confessional statement of the maker. The weight to be attached to the truthful and voluntary confession made by an accused under Section 15 of the TADA Act came to be considered again in a recent three-Judge Bench decision in Devender Pal Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi. It was held in the majority opinion that the confessional statement of the accused can be relied upon for the purpose of conviction and no further corroboration is necessary if it relates to the accused himself.
18. There can be no doubt that a free and voluntary confession deserves the highest credit. It is presumed to flow from the highest sense of guilt. Having examined the record, we are satisfied that the confession made by the appellant is voluntary and truthful and was recorded, as already noticed, by due observance of all the safeguards provided under Section 15 and the appellant could be convicted solely on the basis of his confession.”
93) In Mohmed Amin vs. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2008) 15 SCC 49, it was observed:
“28. In Devender Pal Singh case majority of three-Judge Bench made a reference to Gurdeep Singh case and Nalini case and held (at SCC pp. 261-62, para 33) that whenever an accused challenges the voluntary character of his confession recorded under Section 15(1) of the Act, the initial burden is on the prosecution to prove that all the conditions specified in that section read with Rule 15 of the Rules have been complied with and once that is done, it is for the accused to show and satisfy the court that the confession was not made voluntarily. The Court further held that the confession of an accused can be relied upon for the purpose of conviction and no further corroboration is necessary if it relates to the accused himself. However, as a matter of prudence the court may look for some corroboration if confession is to be used against a co-accused though that will be again within the sphere of appraisal of evidence.
29. In Jameel Ahmed case a two-Judge Bench after discussing, considering and analysing several precedents on the subject, including Devender Pal Singh case, culled out the following propositions: (Jameel Ahmed case, SCC pp. 689-90, para 35) “(i) If the confessional statement is properly recorded, satisfying the mandatory provision of Section 15 of the TADA Act and the Rules made thereunder, and if the same is found by the court as having been made voluntarily and truthfully then the said confession is sufficient to base a conviction on the maker of the confession.
(ii) Whether such confession requires corroboration or not, is a matter for the court considering such confession on facts of each case.
(iii) In regard to the use of such confession as against a co- accused, it has to be held that as a matter of caution, a general corroboration should be sought for but in cases where the court is satisfied that the probative value of such confession is such that it does not require corroboration then it may base a conviction on the basis of such confession of the co-accused without corroboration. But this is an exception to the general rule of requiring corroboration when such confession is to be used against a co-accused.
(iv) The nature of corroboration required both in regard to the use of confession against the maker as also in regard to the use of the same against a co-accused is of a general nature, unless the court comes to the conclusion that such corroboration should be on material facts also because of the facts of a particular case. The degree of corroboration so required is that which is necessary for a prudent man to believe in the existence of facts mentioned in the confessional statement.
(v) The requirement of sub-rule (5) of Rule 15 of the TADA Rules which contemplates a confessional statement being sent to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or the Chief Judicial Magistrate who, in turn, will have to send the same to the Designated Court is not mandatory and is only directory. However, the court considering the case of direct transmission of the confessional statement to the Designated Court should satisfy itself on facts of each case whether such direct transmission of the confessional statement in the facts of the case creates any doubt as to the genuineness of the said confessional statement.”
30. In Abdulvahab Abdul Majid Shaikh case this Court rejected the argument raised on behalf of the appellant that the confession made by him cannot be treated as voluntary because the same had been retracted and observed:
“9. … The police officer was empowered to record the confession and in law such a confession is made admissible under the provisions of the TADA Act. The mere fact that A-9 Musakhan @ Babakhan retracted subsequently is not a valid ground to reject the confession. The crucial question is whether at the time when the accused was giving the statement he was subjected to coercion, threat or any undue influence or was offered any inducement to give any confession. There is nothing in the evidence to show that there was any coercion, threat or any undue influence to the accused to make the confession.”
31. The ratio of the abovenoted judgments is that if a person accused of an offence under the Act makes a confession before a police officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police and the same is recorded by the officer concerned in writing or on any mechanical device like cassettes, tapes or sound tracks from out of which sounds or images can be reproduced, then such confession is admissible in the trial of the maker as also the co-accused, abettor or conspirator not only for an offence under the Act but also for offence(s) under other enactments, provided that the co-accused, abettor or conspirator is charged and tried in the same case along with the accused and the court is satisfied that requirements of the Act and the Rules have been complied with. Whether such confession requires corroboration depends on the facts of the given case. If the court is convinced that the probative value of the confession is such that it does not require corroboration then the same can be used for convicting the maker and/or the co-accused under the Act and/or the other enactments without independent corroboration.” After considering the confessions of the accused in the aforesaid case, it was held as under:
“81. Therefore, keeping in view the provisions of Section 15 of the Act as interpreted by this Court in Gurprit Singh case, Nalini case, S.N. Dube case, Lal Singh case, Devender Pal Singh case and Jameel Ahmed case, we hold that the appellants are guilty of offence under Section 302 read with Section 120-B IPC and no independent corroboration is required for sustaining their conviction.”
94) In Jameel Ahmed & Anr. vs. State of Rajasthan, (2003) 9 SCC 673 this Court held that Section 30 of the Evidence Act has no role to play in deciding the admissibility of a confession recorded under Section 15 of TADA. The Court held that:
“23. …. it is relevant to note that Section 15 of the TADA Act by the use of non obstante clause has made confession recorded under Section 15 admissible notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act or the Code of Criminal Procedure. It also specifically provides that the confession so recorded shall be admissible in the trial of a co-accused for offence committed and tried in the same case together with the accused who makes the confession. Apart from the plain language of Section 15 which excludes the application of Section 30 of the Evidence Act, this Court has in many judgments in specific terms held that Section 30 of the Evidence Act has no role to play when the court considers the confession of an accused made under Section 15 of the TADA Act either in regard to himself or in regard to his co-accused.”
95) In Ahmed Hussein Vali (supra), this Court, while relying upon Nalini (supra), held that if the confession made by an accused is voluntary and true, then it is admissible against the co-accused as a substantive piece of evidence, and that minor and curable irregularities in the recording of the confession like omission in obtaining the certificate of competent office with respect to confession do not affect the admissibility of the said evidence. It was further observed:
“74. … As far as the admissibility of the confessional statement of A- 27 is concerned with regard to his co-accused in this case, it is not vitiated because of the amendment and it is rightly used as a major evidence for the trial of his co-accused by the Designated Court. As this confessional statement was made complying with all the procedural essentials as provided for by the TADA Act and the Rules it can be a valid ground for the conviction when corroborated with the confessional statement of the other four accused, namely, A-1, A-2, A-
3 and A-20 respectively which have been made prior to the amendment of the Act….”
96) The amendment, by Act 43 of 1993 which came into force from 22.05.1993 deleted sub-clauses (c) and (d) to sub-section (1) of Section
21. This Court considered the effect of amendment in Nalini (supra), and observed as follows:
“698. ….the effect of the said clauses was that in the event of the co-accused making confession inculpating the accused or in the event of the accused himself making an extra-judicial confession to any person other than a police officer the legal presumption that the accused had committed such offence would arise.” In the event of un-amended TADA as it stood prior to 22.05.1993 were to apply, there would be a presumption of guilt against the appellant pursuant to un-amended Section 21 since confession of other co-accused would implicate the appellant for the offence of conspiracy. The amendment of 1993 did not bring about any change as to the admissibility and applicability of the confession of the co-accused.
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Supreme Court Of India, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, Death Sentence, Confirmed, Sentence, Appeal, Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Momon, 93 Bomb Blast, Mumbai Bomb Blast, Don, Gangster, Mafia, Sanjay Dutt, Death Penalty, Serial Blast, Mumbai, maharashtra, India, State Of Maharashtra, CBI, Prosecution, Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, demolition, violence, terrorist, Bombay, arms, ammunitions, conspiracy, Dubai, Pakistan, training, Bombay Stock Exchange, Katha Bazaar, Sena Bhavan, Century Bazaar, Mahim Causeway, Air India Building, Zaveri Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, Plaza Theatre, Juhu Centaur Hotel, AirPort Bay-54, AirPort Centaur Hotel, terrorist attack, terror, RDX, Research Department Explosive, Md. Ahmed Dosa, Md. Salim Mira Moiddin Shaikh @ Salim Kutta, Md. Kasam Lajpuria, Ranjitkumar Singh Baleshwar Prasad, Md. Sultan Sayyed, Dighi Jetty, Raigad, Uttan,