Injustice somewhere jeopardises justice everywhere. The primary function of
the judiciary is to provide justice by protecting the innocent and punishing the
guilty. However, distinguishing between innocent and guilty is a difficult
assignment since the judge is never there at the site of the crime and only gets
familiar with the case after it is submitted before the court. In such cases,
the evidence submitted by the parties is relied on by the judges. As a result,
evidence plays a critical role in assessing the rights and obligations of the
case's parties. This study will investigate and analyse circumstantial evidence
and the factors that must be met, as well as provide relevant case references.
Basic Introduction to Circumstantial Evidence
Circumstantial evidence is evidence based on deduction rather than personal
knowledge or information. It is defined by Peter Murphy as "evidence from
which the intended conclusion may be made but which necessitates the tribunal of
fact not only accepting the evidence offered but also drawing an inference from
Circumstantial evidence, also known as indirect evidence, is evidence that leads
to the logical conclusion that such a fact exists. It refers to a set of facts
different than the one sought to be proven. It is evidence derived from
events or circumstances around a fact at issue rather than direct observation of
the fact at question. Circumstantial evidence is proof of a fact or combination
of facts that tends to demonstrate whether something is true or false.
Circumstantial evidence is evidence relating to facts other than those in
question that have been discovered by human experience to be so connected with
the latter that the latter must be fairly inferred therefrom. Wills described
it as "evidence given not by direct testimony of an eye witness to the fact to
be proven, but by bearing on that element other and subsidiary facts which are
depended on and inconsistent with any outcome other than the reality of the
Circumstantial evidence, according to Steve Uglow, "consists of evidence of
circumstances, none of which speak directly to the fact in dispute but from
which those facts may be inferred." As a result, thoughts of hostility toward
the victim, being in the scene of the assault, and the victim's blood on the
accused's clothes might all be deemed circumstantial evidence.
Some evidence, such as the testimony of a witness who observed a jet aircraft
speeding across the sky, directly confirms a fact. Some evidence, such as the
testimony of a witness who only observed the white trail that jet jets often
leave, indirectly supports a truth. This kind of indirect evidence is also known
as "circumstantial evidence." In each case, the testimony of the witness
establishes that a jet aircraft soared over the sky.
Circumstantial evidence may sometimes be just as powerful as direct evidence.
Although direct evidence is usually regarded to be the best evidence, when
direct evidence is unavailable, the whole case is based wholly or mostly on
circumstantial evidence. In such a case, the incident must be rebuilt in court
using the surrounding circumstances, such as the cause or consequences of the
occurrence. It is the responsibility of the attorneys and the court to
thoroughly examine the facts surrounding the occurrence and make conclusions to
show the accused's guilt or innocence.
Circumstantial evidence is a kind of reasoning that derives plausible inferences
from known facts. The known facts lead to conclusions that are logical
extensions of the known facts. Circumstantial evidence refers to a set of facts
other than the one sought to be proven. Circumstantial evidence is always in the
form of a chain or network. It has even been decided that the accused cannot be
convicted only on the basis of circumstantial evidence if there is a missing
link in the chain of events that would indisputably show the circumstances
against the accused.
Furthermore, circumstantial evidence tends to only prove one's argument by
inference; that is, circumstantial evidence allows the court to infer that the
advocate has established one or more legal components that s/he is seeking to
show. To be as compelling as possible, judges must not only accept
circumstantial evidence as genuine, but also identify and accept as legitimate
an inferential relationship between the evidence and what one believes it
Furthermore, circumstantial evidence consists of facts pointing in a certain
direction�facts that are in agreement with one side or another of the hypothesis
under consideration, but standing alone, this linked data is insufficient to
make any firm conclusions. The conclusion drawn from circumstantial evidence
must be logical, reasonable, and natural in light of the facts supplied.
Elements of Circumstantial Evidence
Circumstantial evidence is critical in achieving justice. However, it must be
noted that such evidence must meet the essential requirements in order to be
admitted as evidence.
The Indian Supreme Court ruled in a case that circumstantial evidence may be
used as the only basis for a conviction if the circumstances antecedent to
conviction based on circumstantial evidence are completely established the
requirements are as follows:
- The circumstances leading to the determination of guilt must be
adequately established. The conditions in question "must" or "should" be
established rather than "may."
- The facts produced should be compatible with the accused's guilt theory.
- The circumstances must be convincing in kind and tendency.
- They should rule out all possibilities save the one to be proven.
- There must be a chain of evidence that is so thorough that it leaves no
reasonable foundation for a finding compatible with the accused's innocence
and that shows that the conduct must have been committed by the accused in
all human possibility.
Similarly, in another instance,The Supreme Court of India ruled that four
factors must be present in order to show guilt through circumstantial evidence:
- That the circumstances establishing guilt must be completely proven;
- That all evidence must be compatible with the concept of guilt and
irreconcilable with innocence;
- The facts must be convincing in kind and tendency;
- That the conditions should, with a high degree of confidence, reject all
hypotheses save the one intended to be proven.
Similarly, the Supreme Court of India ruled that "circumstantial evidence should
not only be compatible with the accused's guilt, but also with his
innocence." Furthermore, it was determined in another case involving
circumstantial evidence that "it must appear that now the inference of
culpability is the only one who can fairly and reasonably be derived from the
facts, but that the evidence excludes beyond just a reasonable doubt almost any
reasonable hypothesis of innocence."
Hence According to C.J. Monir, circumstantial evidence must be both exclusive
and decisive, excluding the accused's innocence and clearly establishing his
guilt. Thus, the main components of circumstantial evidence are as follows:
- There must be a chain of evidence demonstrating that the conduct was
committed by the accused
- All facts proved should be compatible exclusively with the theory of
guilt and contradictory to the accused's innocence.
- The circumstances should be conclusive.
- Circumstances should rule out the possibility of someone other than the
accused being guilty.
- Circumstantial evidence should always be direct and not presumptively
Circumstantial Evidence in Nepal: In recent years, the Supreme Court of Nepal
has issued decisions on a variety of topics based on circumstantial evidence.
Some of these examples are as follows.
In the case of Charles Sovaraj v. Nepal Government
,  the Nepal
Supreme Court ruled, In the instance of homicide, the court ruled that "analysing
the method used in committing the crime and the nature of the crime, it appears
that the criminal was fully conscious and committed the murder in a premeditated
way." In such a case, the indirect evidence, particularly circumstantial
evidence given by the prosecution, should lead to the criminal, and since guilt
seems to be shown on the basis of such evidence, that criminal is to be
Similarly, Supreme Court of Nepal, in the case of Malati Devi Kalwar v. Nepal
, In the instance of murder, "circumstantial evidence should
be direct and not dependent on assumption." What constitutes circumstantial
evidence should indeed be clearly stated, and the many facts relating to the
subject should be linked in a chain."
Moreover, in the case of Chandrapraksah Joshi etal v. HMG
 The Supreme
Court ruled that "merely convicting convicts on the ground of circumstantial
evidence does not imply that they are not convicted on the basis of factual
Similarly, the Supreme Court in another case of Bahadur alias Dilip Singh
Thakur v HMG
, In the case of murder, it has been said that "the
statement supplied by the accused well before police, if backed by
circumstantial evidence, might be considered as proof."
Similarly, in another case of Bachhi Bista Chhetri v. Kabindra Bahadur Bista
 The Supreme Court ruled that "sexual behaviour between a boy and
a girl with their permission is not a subject of public record, hence no witness
is generally located." As a result, in such a case, the court should rely on the
parties' attitudes and other circumstantial evidence to identify sexual
Analysis and Conclusion
Monir has correctly said that evidence includes all methods of proving or
disproving any asserted fact to the satisfaction of the court. Every matter that
comes before the court is supported by facts. And, in order to provide justice,
the judges must analyse those facts using the evidence offered. Evidence offered
in this manner is not necessarily straightforward. In such cases, the court
depends on circumstantial or indirect evidence. Circumstantial evidence is
sometimes seen as a poor sort of proof, yet this is not the case. The sole
caveat is that it should be taken with extreme care.
As a result, circumstantial evidence must meet specific criteria. The court
should rigorously adhere to these principles while deciding any matter. When a
court depends on circumstances, it must exercise extreme caution since there is
a risk that an innocent person would be victimised by the court, which is
contrary to the fundamental premise of justice. One of the fundamental factors
is proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Similarly, there must be a chain of
evidence proving that the accused committed the conduct.
Circumstantial evidence is, in reality, the transfer of facts, which creates a
network from which the accused cannot escape since the facts as a whole do not
permit any conclusion other than the accused's guilt. Furthermore, before the
court may make an inference of guilt, it must be the only one that can fairly
and reasonably be derived from the evidence, compatible with the established
facts, and flow naturally, rationally, and logically from them.
Analyzing the examples described above, it is clear that the Nepalese courts
depend on circumstantial evidence as well. To prevent miscarriage of justice,
the courts seem to extensively examine the facts surrounding the occurrence and
carefully make conclusions. In the absence of direct proof, courts consider
circumstantial evidence, with care to prevent any trouble caused by it. Thus,
circumstantial evidence seems to play an important role in evidence law.
Every time a matter is heard in court, the court renders a decision based on the
evidence given by the parties. This evidence should be examined with extreme
caution since a single error might result in the acquittal of the criminal or
the conviction of an innocent person. Circumstantial evidence, which is based
simply on circumstance, is also an important sort of evidence. It has several
fundamental features that the court scrutinises closely.
Fulfilling those components may be time-consuming, but once completed,
circumstantial evidence becomes as genuine as, if not more authentic than,
direct proof. Furthermore, it was held in the Billasia murder case that "men may
tell lies, women may tell lies, but circumstances do not tell lies." As a
result, circumstantial evidence has been a key concept in delivering justice in
the absence of direct evidence, and courts consider it with great care and
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Najirharu (2015-2062), (Kathmandu: Supreme Court 2063).
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accessed on 21st April, 2011.
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- Bodh Raj v. State of Jammu Kashmir, AIR 2002, SC 316.
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- People v Sanchez, 61 N.Y.2d 1022, 1024 (1984).
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Law Publishing Co. 2008) 13.
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Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Mohit Mandloi, School Of Law, Indore Campus B.A. LLB (Hons.) Fifth Semester
Authentication No: SP225968220405-16-0922