SECTION 10- INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872
According to Section 10, if there is a reasonable ground for the court 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-
- against each of the persons believed to be so conspiring,
- for proving the existence of the conspiracy,
- for showing that any such person was a party to it.
Section 10 deals with the admissibility of evidence in a conspiracy case. Before discussing the section itself we must know the meaning of the term ‘conspiracy’. Conspiracy can be defined as a combination of two or more persons for unlawful purposes. It is the corrupt agreeing together of two or more persons to do, by concerted action, something unlawul either as a means or as an end”. Section 120-A of the Indian Penal Code lays down 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 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. So it can be concluded that when two or more than two persons agree together to do some illegal act or some act by illegal means they are said to have conspired.
It is not necessary in order to constitute a conspiracy that the acts agreed to be done should be the acts which if done should be criminal. It is done if the acts agreed to be done although not criminal are wrongful, i.e., amount to civil wrong. A conspiracy consists of unlawful combination of two or more persons to do that which is contrary of law, or to do that which is wrongful towards other persons, it may be punished criminally or civilly by action.
It must be remembered that mere knowledge on the part of a man about a conspiracy will not make him a conspirator. The man may be in knowing of an existence of a conspiracy between others yet he may not have to do with the conspiracy. There must be a consent of will and endeavour between the conspirators.
- There shall be a prima facie or to say a very cogent evidence showing a reasonable ground for the court to believe that two or more persons are members of a conspiracy.
- If the said condition is fulfilled, anything said, done or written by anyone of them in reference to their common intention will be evidence against the others.
- Anything said, done or written by him should have been said, done or written by him after the intention was formed by any one of them.
- It would also be relevant for the said purpose against another who entered the conspiracy, whether it was said done or written before he entered the conspiracy or after he left.
- Samundar Singh v. State AIR 1965 Cal. 598- A court cannot use anything said, done or written by one alleged member of conspiracy in evidence against him or against all unless there is a reasonable ground to believe that a conspiracy existed between them. Thus anything said, done or written by an alleged conspirator, before being brought on record, the court is supposed to bring on record some sort of evidence which convincingly proves the existence of the conspiracy. Once a reasonable ground to believe that several persons have conspired together exists, the acts and declarations of a particular person in reference to the common intention are facts which will be deemed to be relevant although that person may not so much as even know of the existence of many other people’s engagement in the conspiracy or they were utter strangers to him. And if the evidence is taken after prima facie proof of conspiracy but at a later stage of trial that reasonable ground of believe or prima facie proof is displaced by further evidence, the court must reject the evidence previously taken.
- Ammani & Others v. State of Kerela AIR 1998 SC 260- It was held by the Supreme Court that where there was a reasonable ground to believe that the other accused had conspired together in committing murder, the confession made by accused could be used against other accused also.
- Central Bureau of Investigation (C.B.I.) v. V. C. Shukla & Ors (also known as the Hawala Case)- The entries were made in accounts book alleged to be showing conspiracy among all of the accused, the evidence of PW (Prosecution Witness) only indicated the fact that one of the accused in question was known to the other accused person and had gone to their place of residence on formal occasion. The witness did not speak a word about the other accused in question. It was held that section 10 could not be pressed into service for holding that conspiracy amongst all the accused was proved.
EVIDENCE RELATING TO ACTS OUTSIDE THE PERIOD OF CONSPIRACY:-
- Ahai Lal v. Emperor AIR 1949 PC 90- It should also be remembered that the things said, done or written by a conspirator will be normally relevant only when it is said, done or written after the time when such intention was entertained by any one member of the conspiracy. If the thing was said, done or written in the past that is before such intention was entertained by any one of them, it is not relevant and cannot be proved.
- State of Gujrat v. Mohd. Atik & Ors AIR 1998 SC 1686- It was held by the Supreme Court that once common intention ceased to exist, any statement made by former conspirator, thereafter could not be regarded as one made in reference to their common intention. In other words, the post arrest statement made to the police officer whether it is confession or otherwise touching his involvement in the conspiracy would not fall within the ambit of section 10 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Author: Rudra Gupta,
B.A. LL.B. 5th Semester, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. (Uttar Pradesh)