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Circumstantial Evidence

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Circumstantial Evidence is all evidence that is of indirect nature.

  • Best, Pres. 246; Id. 12: When the existence of the principal fact is deduced from evidentiary by a process of probable reasoning, the evidence and proof are said to be presumptive.
  • Burrill: All presumptive evidence is circumstantial because necessarily derived from or made up of circumstances, but all circumstantial evidence is not presumptive. The proof of various facts or circumstances which usually attend the main fact in dispute, and therefore tend to prove its existence, or to sustain, by their consistency, the hypothesis claimed. Or as otherwise defined, it consists in reasoning from facts which are known or proved to establish such as are conjectured to exist.

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Laws

  • Pawan @ Rajinder Singh and Another v State of Haryana, Criminal Appeal Jurisdiction, Criminal Appeal No. 2194 OF 2014, Supreme Court of India judgment dated March 8, 2017: While, in general, though the motive of crime is not necessarily required to be proved, in a case where the appellants are named on suspicion by informant in the First Information Report and which does not contain names as witnesses but who had seen the occurrence), the motive appears to be relevant fact
  • Milligan v. State, 109 Fla. 219, 147 So. 260, 263: Evidence of indirect nature
  • Brown v. State, 126 Tex.Cr.R. 449, 72 S.W.2d 269, 270: It is direct evidence as to facts deposed to but indirect as to the factum probandum
  • People v. Steele, 37 N.Y.S.2d 199, 200, 179 Misc. 587; Wolff v. Employers Fire Ins. Co., 282 Ky. 824, 140 S.W.2d 640, 645, 130 A.L.R. 682; Scott v. State, 57 Ga.App. 489, 195 S.E. 923, 924: Evidence of facts or circumstances from which the existence or nonexistence of fact in issue may be inferred
  • Hatfield v. Levy Bros., 18 Ca1.2d 798, 117 P. 2d 841, 845: Inferences drawn from facts proved
  • Hercules Powder Co., v. Nieratko, 113 N.J.L. 188, 173 A. 606, 610: Preponderance of probabilities
  • People v. Taddio, 292 N.Y. 488, 55 N.E. 2d 749, 750: Process of decision by which court or jury may reason from circumstances known or proved, to establish by inference the principal fact
  • Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Lonas, 255 Ky. 717, 75 S.W.2d 348, 350: It means that existence of principal facts is only inferred from circumstances.
  • Padala Veera Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh and others, 1989 Supp (2) SCC 706 : 1991 SCC (CRI) 407: The Supreme Court of India held that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, the following tests must be satisfied: (SCC pp. 710-11, para 10)

“(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.”

  • Ramreddy Rajesh Khanna Reddy and another v. State of A.P. (2006) 10 SCC 172
  • Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1996 SC 607: The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully proved and those circumstances must be conclusive in nature to connect the accused with the crime.
  • Harishchandra Ladaku Thange v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2007 SC 2957: Dealing with the validity of inferences to be drawn from circumstantial evidence, it has been emphasised 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 and further 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.
  • State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, AIR 1992 SCW 640 = AIR 1992 SC 840: It is the duty of the Court to take care while evaluating circumstantial evidence. If the evidence adduced by the prosecution is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. The circumstances relied upon must be established and the cumulative effect of the established facts must lead to a singular hypothesis that the accused is guilty.
  • Ram Singh v. Sonia and Ors., AIR 2007 SC 1218:
    • In a case depending largely upon circumstantial evidence, there is always a danger that conjecture or suspicion may take the place of legal proof.
    • The Court must satisfy itself that various circumstances in the chain of events have been established clearly and such completed chain of events must be such as to rule out a reasonable likelihood of the innocence of the accused.
    • When the important link goes, the chain of circumstances gets snapped and the other circumstances cannot in any manner, establish the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubts.
  • Ujagar Singh v. State of Punjab, (2007) 13 SCC 90: In regard to principles pertaining to the evaluation of circumstantial evidence, it is emphasised that whether a chain is complete or not would depend on the facts of each case emanating from the evidence and no universal yardstick should ever be attempted.

Related Terms

Related Topics

Legal Systems on Evidence