What do you mean by the term Circumstantial Evidence?.. Please highlight some of the prominent observations made by the Supreme Court of India on the subject of circumstantial evidence in some of the leading pronouncements.

By | September 8, 2021
Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series

Question: What do you mean by the term Circumstantial Evidence? Do you agree with the view that “when there is no direct evidence of any crime, a conviction can be based on the circumstantial evidence alone, and provided the court weighs all circumstances relating to a particular crime as in integrated whole and that any missing link could be fatal to the prosecution case”?

Please highlight some of the prominent observations made by the Supreme Court of India on the subject of circumstantial evidence in some of the leading pronouncements. [HR.J.S. 2007]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What do you mean by the term Circumstantial Evidence?.. Please highlight some of the prominent observations made by the Supreme Court of India on the subject of circumstantial evidence in some of the leading pronouncements.]

Answer

Circumstantial evidence is incident evidence. It does not prove the point in question directly but establishes it only by drawing inferences. Circumstantial evidence means that some fact has to be inferred from another fact. For example, A person who ran out of the room with blood on their hands could be murdered. Here, the inference is drawn on grounds of prudence, common sense.

But because ‘may’ is there to hold the person liable inference is said to have both the two aspects i.e. the alleged person has done or has not done the offence are possible. Only one inference is not sufficient by if [roved that knife used as a means to commit murder was recovered from such person or he has a rivalry with the deceased. However, if any reasonably prudent man could infer from all chain of circumstances that murder was omitted by that person only, then it is circumstantial evidence.

It is to be noted that when the chain of circumstances connects logically with the ‘fact in issue’ and then if it is put forth before any logical or prudent person who infers that yes A had committed the murder, then it becomes circumstantial evidence. Because the decision is not made based on one inference by after seeing entire inferences in totality then make a chain of circumstances which any prudent man will say there is no other hypothesis left or possibility left except the guilt of the person in question that is has committed the offence.

As the name suggests of circumstantial evidence; the circumstances connect together logically and make a chain that leads to no other conclusion but the guilt of the alleged person. In case, there are two conclusions that he may have or may not have done, then, in that case, the benefit will go to the accused.

So, only when the chain of circumstance is complete and it leads to no other conclusion but the guilt of the accused then the chain of circumstance is said to be complete and circumstantial evidence stands at par with direct evidence as terms of relevancy inadmissibility as evidence and then a conviction can be based on the circumstantial evidence alone.

In the case of Ashish Batham v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2002) SC, it was held that to prove a matter by circumstantial evidence, the following things are essential:

  1. The circumstance from which conclusion has been drawn should be fully proved i.e. beyond reasonable doubt otherwise it will be in favour of the accused.
  2. All the facts should be consistent with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused.
  3. The circumstance must be of a conclusive nature i.e. the circumstance should not be based on suspicions, conjectures, surmises meaning thereby, circumstances based on these grounds are fraught with danger that a judge may be swayed by these three grounds that is why all circumstances should be conclusive in nature.
  4. The circumstance should exclude every possibility except for the guilt of the accused.

The Apex Court has clearly laid down in the landmark case of Hanumant Govind Nargundkar v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1952) SC that –

“the chain of circumstances must be so complete that it leaves no room for doubt in anybody’s mind for any other hypothesis except the guilt of the accused. If two views are [possible, then one favoring the accused must be taken.]”


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X

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