Briefly state the distinction between the following concepts. (i) Abetment and criminal conspiracy (ii)  Assault and using criminal force [MPCJ 2009]
(i) Abetment and criminal conspiracy

Ans. Both abetment and criminal conspiracy are inchaote offence. Under section 107 clause secondly one of the recognised mode of abetment is by way of engaging in conspiracy. Subsequent to addition of Sec. 120 A & B in IPC vide 1913 amendment, the conspiracy in India is not only a form of abatement but also a substantive offence. But despite of such close affinity, the criminal conspiracy is somewhat wider in amplitude than abetment by conspiracy as contemplated under Sec. 107 of IPC. The main distinction could be mentioned as below:-

  • An abetment may be committed by way of instigation, Engaging in conspiracy or by intentional aid but criminal conspiracy is committed by meeting of minds   or an agreement. So, criminal conspiracy is just one form of abetment and stand in relation of species and genus respectively.
  • For an offence under the second clause of section 107 of the IPC, a mere combination of persons or agreement is not enough and an act or illegal omission must take place in pursuance of the conspiracy. But, for an offence of criminal conspiracy under section 120 A & B of the IPC, a bare agreement to commit an offence is itself enough to complete the offence without any need of overt or covert act.
  • The Sec. 107 th clause secondly is restricted to only offence. So, an abetment by conspiracy can be committed only with respect to any offence. But, section 120 A read with section 43 of the IPC brings out that criminal conspiracy can happen not only with respect to offence but also for an act which is prohibited by law or an act which leads to only civil liability.
  • In case of abetment by conspiracy charge has to be framed along with the abetted offence, viz Sec. 109/302 IPC. But, an offence of criminal conspiracy is an independent offence and punishable on its own, viz Sec. 120 B IPC.
  • The act of abettor is punishable under section 108 To 117 of the IPC depending upon the situations. Whereas, the crime of criminal conspiracy is punishable under section 120 B of the IPC.
  • The abettor is not a principle offender. Whereas, in criminal conspiracy each accused is a principal offender .
  • An abetment can be committed by one or more persons, whereas conspiracy can be committed by two or more persons.
(ii) Assault and using criminal force

Ans. The difference between an assault and criminal force under Indian law is the same as in English law between assault and battery. Under Indian law, Section 350 and 351 of the IPC respectively defines the terminology of Criminal force and assault and still further section 352 punishes them with the same amount of punishment. The main distinction could be mentioned as below :

  • The assault is basically a preparatory stage of criminal force by way of gesture or preparation to make someone apprehend that maker is about to use criminal force. On the other hand, in criminal force there is actual use of force by way of causing of motion, change of motion or cessation of motion.
  • In assault the guilty mind is directed toward bringing an apprehension in the mind of another person about the use of criminal force. But, in criminal force the guilty mind of accused is directed toward committing any offence or causing injury, fear or annoyance to the other person.
  • As per the explanation appended to the section 351 of the IPC the “words” accompanying the gesture or preparation may also be the constituent element of the offence of assault, but section 350 of the IPC does not mention any specific role of words in committing criminal force.
  • Every criminal force includes assault but not vice-versa.

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