Circumstantial Evidence

The Circumstantial Evidence is hallmark of criminal jurisprudence system in absence of eye witness during the commission of crime. The circumstantial evidence being not direct evidence, the Supreme Court has laid down various guideline from time to time for its application for conviction. The “last-seen theory” and “Motive” forms important ingredient of the circumstantial evidence.

In case of Sharad Birdhi Chand Sarda vs State Of Maharashtra (1985 SCR(1) 88) following was held: “3:3. Before a case against an accused vesting on circumstantial evidence can be said to be fully established the following conditions must be fulfilled as laid down in Hanumant Vs State of M.P. [1953] SCR 1091] The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established; The facts so established should be consistent with the hypothesis of guilt and the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty; The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency; They should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and There must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused. These five golden principles constitute the panchsheel of the proof of a case based on circumstantial evidence and in the absence of a corpus deliciti.“

In Rameshbhai Chandubhai Rathod vs State Of Gujarat, Criminal Appeal No.- 575 of 2007, the Supreme Court Stated following: “17. Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book “Wills’ Circumstantial Evidence” (ChapterVI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence: (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum; (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted”

In case of Ramreddy Rajeshkhanna Reddy & Anr vs State Of Andhra Pradesh, Appeal (Crl.)-997 of 2005 following was held: “It is now well-settled that with a view to base a conviction on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution must establish all the pieces of incriminating circumstances by reliable and clinching evidence and the circumstances so proved must form such a chain of events as would permit no conclusion other than one of guilt of the accused. The circumstances cannot be on any other hypothesis. It is also well-settled that suspicion, however, grave may be, cannot be a substitute for a proof and the courts shall take utmost precaution in finding an accused guilty only on the basis of the circumstantial evidence. [See Anil Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar (2003) 9 SCC 67 and Reddy Sampath Kumar v. State of A.P. (2005) 7 SCC 603]. The last-seen theory, furthermore, comes into play where the time gap between the point of time when the accused and the deceased were last seen alive and the deceased is found dead is so small that possibility of any person other than the accused being the author of the crime becomes impossible. Even in such a case courts should look for some corroboration.”

In Case of State Of U.P vs Satish, Appeal (crl.) 256-257 of 2005, with regard to last-seen theory following was held: “The last seen theory comes into play where the time-gap between the point of time when the accused and the deceased were seen last alive and when the deceased is found dead is so small that possibility of any person other than the accused being the author of the crime becomes impossible. It would be difficult in some cases to positively establish that the deceased was last seen with the accused when there is a long gap and possibility of other persons coming in between exists. In the absence of any other positive evidence to conclude that the accused and the deceased were last seen together, it would be hazardous to come to a conclusion of guilt in those cases. In this case there is positive evidence that the deceased and the accused were seen together by witnesses PWs. 3 and 5, in addition to the evidence of PW-2.“

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