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Circumstantial Evidence Its Elements And Application

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.[1] 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 it".[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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 principal fact."[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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 demonstrates.

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[8] 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:
  1. The circumstances leading to the determination of guilt must be adequately established. The conditions in question "must" or "should" be established rather than "may."
  2. The facts produced should be compatible with the accused's guilt theory.
  3. The circumstances must be convincing in kind and tendency.
  4. They should rule out all possibilities save the one to be proven.
  5. 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[9],The Supreme Court of India ruled that four factors must be present in order to show guilt through circumstantial evidence:
  1. That the circumstances establishing guilt must be completely proven;
  2. That all evidence must be compatible with the concept of guilt and irreconcilable with innocence;
  3. The facts must be convincing in kind and tendency;
  4. 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."[10] 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."[11]

Hence According to C.J. Monir, circumstantial evidence must be both exclusive and decisive, excluding the accused's innocence and clearly establishing his guilt.[12] Thus, the main components of circumstantial evidence are as follows:
  1. There must be a chain of evidence demonstrating that the conduct was committed by the accused
  2. All facts proved should be compatible exclusively with the theory of guilt and contradictory to the accused's innocence.
  3. The circumstances should be conclusive.
  4. Circumstances should rule out the possibility of someone other than the accused being guilty.
  5. Circumstantial evidence should always be direct and not presumptively founded.[13]
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, [14] 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 convicted."

Similarly, Supreme Court of Nepal, in the case of Malati Devi Kalwar v. Nepal Government [15], 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[16] 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 evidence."

Similarly, the Supreme Court in another case of Bahadur alias Dilip Singh Thakur v HMG [17], 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 Chhetri[18] 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 activity."

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 caution.

  1. Lamsal, Narayan Prasad, Law of Evidence,2nd edi., (Kathmandu: Sagha Prakashan 2030
  2. Monir M., Textbook on The Law of Evidence, 7th edi. (Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co. 2008).
  3. Myeni S.R., The Law of Evidence, (Hyderabad: Asia Law House 2007).
  4. Singh Avatar, Principles of The Law of Evidence, 17th edi. (Allahabad: Central Law Publications 2009).
  5. Swarchha Adalatbata Pratipadit Praman Kanoonsambandhi Kehi Mahatyapurna Najirharu (2015-2062), (Kathmandu: Supreme Court 2063).
  6. Wasti Prakash, Evidence Law, 4th edi. (Kathmandu: Pairabi Prakashan 2053).
  1. Bryan A. Garner, Blacks's Law Dictionary, 9th edi. (USA: West Publishing Co. 2011) 636
  2. S.R. Myeni, The Law of Evidence, (Hyderabad: Asia Law House 2007), 20.
  3. accessed on 21st April, 2011.
  4. Avatar Singh, Principles of The Law of Evidence, 17th edi. (Allahabad: Central Law Publications 2009), 34
  5. Prakash Wasti, Evidence Law, 4th edi. (Kathmandu: Pairabi Prakashan 2053),58.
  6. Myeni, n (3) 20.
  7. Manipur v Okram Jitan Singh 2005 Cr. L.J. 1646.
  8. Bodh Raj v. State of Jammu Kashmir, AIR 2002, SC 316.
  9. State of UP v. Ravindra Prakash Mittal, AIR 1992, SC 2045.
  10. Gambhir v. State of Maharastra, AIR 1982 SC 1157 (1159).
  11. People v Sanchez, 61 N.Y.2d 1022, 1024 (1984).
  12. M. Monir, Textbook on The Law of Evidence, 7th edi. (Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co. 2008) 13.
  13. Malati Devi Kalwar v. Nepal Government, NKP 2064, P 1600.
  14. NKP 2067, P 814.
  15. NKP 2064, P 1600.
  16. NKP 2055 P. 111
  17. NKP 2042, DN 2521, P 941.
  18. NKP 2034, DN 1052, P 138.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Mohit Mandloi, School Of Law, Indore Campus B.A. LLB (Hons.) Fifth Semester
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: SP225968220405-16-0922

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