Remember | Register | Forgot Password?
Bookmark This Page   RSS Feeds  Follow On Twitter

 

Search for Lawyers          
    

Home > Articles > Criminal Law > CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE - THE BEST EVIDENCE



Please Wait ..




CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE - THE BEST EVIDENCE

By : K.C.Suresh on 20 August 2008 Report Abuse Print Print this
 



CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE -  THE BEST EVIDENCE

 Suprem Court of India in Manivel and Others v State of Tamil Nadu in Criminal Appeal No. 473 of 2001 (2008 INDLAW SC 1239) on 08 Aug 2008 held that while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established.

They are:
(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;
(2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;
(3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;
(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and
(5) 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.

 

Extracts from the judgement

It has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v. State of Rajasthan  1977 Indlaw RAJ 17; Eradu and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad  1955 Indlaw SC 108; Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka  1983 Indlaw SC 161; State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors.  1985 Indlaw SC 71; Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab  1986 Indlaw SC 35; Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P.  1989 Indlaw SC 443. The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab  1954 Indlaw SC 188, it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.

9We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P.  1996 Indlaw SC 3059, wherein it has been observed thus:

"In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....". *

In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors.  1989 Indlaw SC 31, it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:

"(1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;

(2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;
(3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and

(4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence." *


In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava,  1992 CrLJ 1104, it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.

Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) 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". 13. There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch- stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952. #

In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh,  1952 Indlaw SC 89, wherein it was observed thus:
"It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." *

15. A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra,  1984 Indlaw SC 432. Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:

(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;

(2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;

(3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;

(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and

(5) 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 aspects were highlighted in State of Rajasthan v. Raja Ram  2003 Indlaw SC 630, State of Haryana v. Jagbir Singh and Anr.  2003 Indlaw SC 807 and Kusuma Ankama Rao v State of A.P. (Criminal Appeal No.185/2005 disposed of on 7.7.2008)

So far as the last seen aspect is concerned it is necessary to take note of two decisions of this court. In State of U.P. v. Satish  2005 Indlaw SC 83 it was noted as follows:

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." *

In Ramreddy Rajeshkhanna Reddy v. State of A.P.  2006 (10) SCC 172 it was noted as follows:

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 the courts should look for some corroboration". *

A similar view was also taken in Jaswant Gir v. State of Punjab  2005 (12) SCC 438 and Kusuma Ankama Rao's case (supra).

 

 

Adv. K.C. Suresh, B.A., LL.M (Crimes), PGDHR (Human Rights)


Source : ,



You need to be logged in to post comment


0 Comments for this Article












Quick Links




Browse By Category



Subscribe to Articles Feed
Enter your email to receive Article Updates:








web analytics