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Attempt and Criminal Conspiracy Under Indian Penal Code, 1860 | Law Optional Notes for UPSC PDF Download



Crime is an act or omission committed against the community at large that is punishable by the state. This could be any act that lawmakers in a society have deemed to be criminal.

Definition of Crime

According to Blackstone "Crime as an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law either forbidding or commanding it."
According to Stephen "Crime is a violation of a right considered in reference to the evil tendency of such violation as regards the community at large".

Stages of crime

The crime involves 4 different stages.

  • Intention: Intention is the mental element of a crime. One of the most important ingredients of a crime is Mens rea i.e. an intention to do a wrongful act knowing the evil consequences of the same.
  • Preparation: Preparation is the second stage of a crime it means to arrange the necessary measures for the commission of an intended criminal act.
  • Attempt: The general meaning of attempt is an effort to achieve tasks or activities.
  • Completion of crime: The last stage in the commission of an offence is its accomplishment or commission. It means that if the accused succeeds the attempt to commit the crime, he will be guilty of the complete offence and if his attempt is unsuccessful he will be guilty of an attempt only.

If a person commits a crime voluntary or after preparation the doing it involves four different stages. In every crime, there is first intention to omit it, secondly preparation to commit it and fourthly the accomplishment. 

Attempt Under IPC

The attempt is not defined in the Indian penal code. S. 511 of the IPC only dealt with punishment for attempting to commit offences. This section deals with the one-half of imprisonment for life or one- half of fine as provided for offences or both.


Criminal Attempts Act 1981

S. 1(1) deals if with the intent to commit an offence to which this section applies, a person does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence; he is guilty of attempting to commit the offence.
According to MAYNE: "An attempt is a direct movement towards commission of an act after preparation has been made."

IPC deals 3 kinds of offences:

  • General Provisions
    s. 511 and compare with chapter IV by virtue of S. 40 of the IPC and same as S. 34 both sections cannot stand on its own.
  • Specific Provisions
    S. 307 - Offence of attempt murder
    S. 308 - offence of attempt culpable homicide
    S. 309 - Offence of attempted suicide
    S. 393 - Offence of attempted robbery.
  • Provisions which contain the offence and attempt to commit the offence and its prescribed punishment
    S. 121- Waging war
    S. 385 & 386 - Extortion etc..

Attempt to commit crime is a inchoate crime

The intention coupled with some overt act to achieve that intention amounts to crime as it is an attempt to commit a crime. An attempt is known as preliminary crime or inchoate crime as it is something which is not yet complete. Inchoate means "just begun, incipient, in the early stages". The inchoate crimes are observed as "a crime committed by doing an act with the purpose of affecting some other offence."

Tests for determining attempt

  • Proximity Rule
    Proximity test measures the defendant's progress by examining how close the defendant is to completing the offence. It measured the difference is the distance between preparation for the offence and successfully completion of that offence.
    Commonwealth V. Hamel
    The court held that the proximity rule amount left to be done, not what has already been done, that is analyzed.
  • Res ipsa loquitur test
    Res ipsa loquitur means the "the thing speaks for itself" the test is also known as Unequivocality test. It analyzes the facts of the each case separately and independently.
    Equivocality means susceptible of double interpretation, allowing the possibility of several different meanings. The Equivocality test is used to differentiate between preparation and attempt in a criminal case.
  • Locus Poenitentiae (Doctrine of Repentance)
    The test explains that, a person cannot be charged for an attempt if he is in position to give up or abandon his plan out of his own accord after the formation of Mens rea. Such intentional withdrawal prior to the commission or attempt to commit the act will be termed as mere preparation for the commission of the crime and no legal liability will be imposed.
  • Equivocality test
    It examines how far the defendant has progressed toward commission of the crime, rather than analyzing how much the defendant has left to accomplish. 
  • Substantial steps test
    Attempt is there for comprised of three elements, one is intent to commit a crime, conduct that constitutes a substantial step toward completing the crime and the last one is a failure to complete the crime.

In addition to intent, most state require that a prosecutor also establish that the defendant took a substantial step goes beyond mere preparation to commit the crime. Simply discussing the crime or contemplating it with a friend is also not enough. Rather, the act much be such that it moves the defendant toward the successful completion o the crime, even though the crime is not fully executed.

Punishment for attempt:

  • Same punishment at attempt and completion
  • Separate punishment for attempt of the offence and the offence itself, eg; Murder, Attempt to murder
  • Only attempt is punishable and crime is not punishable eg: Suicide.
  • If no specific provision provided for attempt then it will be punishable under S.511 of the IPC.


Koppula Venkata Rao V. State of A.P

The supreme court has said that "attempt" should be taken as ordinary meaning, i.e. attempt to commit an offence is an act or series of acts which leads inevitably to the commission of the offence unless something which the doer of the act neither foresaw not intended happens to prevent this.

State of Uttar Pradesh V. Ram Chandra

An attempt is an international act which a person does towards the commission of offence but fills in its object through circumstances independent of the violation of the person attempt.

Queen V. McPherson

An attempt is something that falls short of the commission.

Aman Kumar V. State of Haryana

The court clarifies the elements in a attempt, first one is attempt consist in it the intent to commit the crime and another one is any person failed to achieve that intention.

Abhayanand Mishra V. State of Bihar

In this case the Supreme Court has described essential elements of "Attempt" as follows:

  • Intention
  • taken a step forward
  • he failed to commit that crime

Criminal Conspiracy 

A conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act and take some step to commit a crime S. 120 of the IPC deals with criminal conspiracy and 120B is punishment for criminal conspiracy.

Definition of criminal conspiracy - When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done.

  • An illegal act
  • 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 mare parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof,

Explanation It is immaterial whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of such agreement, or is merely incidental to that object.

The ingredients of this offence are:

  • That there should be an agreement between the persons who are alleged to conspire.
  • That the agreement should be: (a) for doing of an illegal act (b) for doing by illegal Means an act which may not itself be illegal.

Elements of a Conspiracy

Conspiracy first requires a showing that two or more people were in agreement to commit a crime. This agreement does not have to be formal or in writing. All that is required is that the parties had a mutual understanding to undertake an unlawful plan. Second, all conspirators must have the specific intent to commit the objective of the conspiracy. This specific intent requirement does not require that each individual knows all the details of the crime or all of the members of the conspiracy. As long as an individual understands that the act being planned is a criminal one and proceeds nonetheless, he can be charges with conspiracy.
S. 120B is mandated to be read with s. 196 of the Cr. Pc. Without the prior leave of the central or the state government or the district magistrate, a court cannot take cognizance of the criminal conspiracy.

State of Tamil Nadu V. Nalini

The case is popularly known as the Rajiv Gandhi association case, it was held that knowledge about conspiracy would not make an accused a conspirator. It was held that also to provide the harbor to the main accused didn't show the sufficient evidence that person is in the conspiracy you have to prove that there is a meeting of minds between the parties.

Difference between S.120 A and 107

The one of the main difference between S. 120 A and 107 is that one is an act of panning to do an illegal act in the other hand in S.107 there is no act but there was an instigation to commit an offence or to provide the help to an instigated person.

Related Laws

Param Hans Yadhav V. State of Bihar

In this case Supreme Court was observed that it is difficult to support the charges of conspiracy with direct evidence the only way by which the one can prove is criminal conspiracy the prosecution has to establish the link between the different chain events.

Firozuddin Basheeruddin & Ors V. State of Kerala

In this case the court held that it is very difficult to prove criminal ones piracy and at the same time there is no necessary to each ones active and direct participation in that offence.

Esher Singh V. State of Andhra Pradesh

The essential ingredient of criminal conspiracy is the agreement to commit an offence. In a case where the agreement is for accomplishment of an act which by itself constitutes an offence then in that event no overt act is necessary to be proved by the prosecution because in such a situation criminal conspiracy is established by proving such an agreement.

Rajaram Guta V. Dharma Chand

In order to constitute criminal conspiracy there must be an agreement, preparatory to the offence and also the act constitute the offence.

Hiralal harilal bhagwati V. CBI

The court held that it was believed that to set up the charges of conspiracy first you have to establish that there is an agreement between the parties.

Nellai Ganesan V. State 

In this case a business man was in great need of money for completing the construction of a theater complex. He was approached by a person who told him that his financer friend would help him with money. This was followed by a number of meetings between him and the team of financers and the cash was constituted as counterfeit currency and every member of the team was held to be liable for guilty of criminal conspiracy and cheating under the IPC.

R V. Charstny

In this case a husband is a party with some others in a conspiracy and his wife joined him in that with knowledge that he was involved with others to commit an unlawful act; she would be guilty of criminal conspiracy


Attempt in crime is beyond the mere planning or preparation and is distinct from other offences such as conspiracy to commit a crime. There are many specific crimes of attempt, such as attempted murder, which may vary by jurisdiction. The criminal conspiracy is one of the most discussed topic in the legal field. In this assignment try to analyze the criminal conspiracy in depth and try to discuss several case laws relating attempt and criminal conspiracy.

The document Attempt and Criminal Conspiracy Under Indian Penal Code, 1860 | Law Optional Notes for UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Law Optional Notes for UPSC.
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