Compiled By: Ashwani Kumar Singh
A look into the cases mentioned in Asar Mohammad & Ors. v. State of U.P., Crl. Appeal No 1617/2011 to understand the concept of circumstantial evidence-
In a case based on circumstantial evidence where no eye witness account is available, there is another principle of law which must be kept in mind. The principle is that when an incriminating circumstance is put to the accused and the said accused either offers no explanation or offers an explanation which is found to be untrue, then the same becomes an additional link in the chain of circumstances to make it complete.
Mulakh Raj & Ors. v. Satish Kumar & Ors.
In a case founded on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution must prove all the circumstances connecting unbroken chain of links leading to only one inference that the accused committed the crime. If any other reasonable hypothesis of the innocence of the accused can be inferred from the proved circumstances, the accused would be entitled to the benefit. What is required is not the quantitative but qualitative, reliable and probable circumstances to complete the chain connecting the accused with the crime.
If the conduct of the accused in relation to the crime comes into question the previous and subsequent conduct are also relevant facts. Therefore, the absence of ordinary course of conduct of the accused and human probabilities of the case also would be relevant. The court must weigh the evidence of the cumulative effect of the circumstances and if it reaches the conclusion that the accused committed the crime, the charge must be held proved and the conviction and sentence would follow.
Padala Veera Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Ors.
When a case rests upon circumstantial evidence such evidence must satisfy the following tests:
- the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;
- those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;
- 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
- 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
Trimukh Moroti Kirkan v. State of Maharashtra
If an offence takes place inside the privacy of a house and in such circumstances where the assailants have all the opportunity to plan and commit the offence at the time and in circumstances of their choice, it will be extremely difficult for the prosecution to lead evidence to establish the guilt of the accused if the strict principle of circumstantial evidence, as noticed above, is insisted upon by the Courts.
Where an offence like murder is committed in secrecy inside a house, the initial burden to establish the case would undoubtedly be upon the prosecution, but the nature and amount of evidence to be led by it to establish the charge cannot be of the same degree as is required in other cases of circumstantial evidence. The burden would be of a comparatively lighter character. In view of Section 106 of the Evidence Act there will be a corresponding burden on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed. The inmates of the house cannot get away by simply keeping quiet and offering no explanation on the supposed premise that the burden to establish its case lies entirely upon the prosecution and there is no duty at all on an accused to offer any explanation.
State of U.P. v. Dr. Ravindra Prakash Mittal
In this case, the medical evidence disclosed that the wife died of strangulation during late night hours or early morning and her body was set on fire after sprinkling kerosene. The defence of the husband was that wife had committed suicide by burning herself and that he was not at home at that time. The letters written by the wife to her relatives showed that the husband ill-treated her and their relations were strained and further the evidence showed that both of them were in one room in the night. It was held that the chain of circumstances was complete and it was the husband who committed the murder of his wife by strangulation and accordingly the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the High Court acquitting the accused and convicted him under Section 302 IPC.
Nika Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh
It was observed that the fact that the accused alone was with his wife in the house when she was murdered there with ‘khokhri’ and the fact that the relations of the accused with her were strained would, in the absence of any cogent explanation by him, point to his guilt.
State of Tamil Nadu v. Rajendran
The wife was found dead in a hut which had caught fire. The evidence showed that the accused and his wife were seen together in the hut at about 9.00 p.m. and the accused came out in the morning through the roof when the hut had caught fire. His explanation was that it was a case of accidental fire which resulted in the death of his wife and a daughter. The medical evidence showed that the wife died due to asphyxia as a result of strangulation and not on account of burn injuries. It was held that there cannot be any hesitation to come to the conclusion that it was the accused (husband) who was the perpetrator of the crime.
 (1992) 3 SCC 43.
 (1989) Supp. (2) SCC 706.
 (2006) 10 SCC 681.
 (1992) 3 SCC 300; AIR 1992 SC 2045.
 (1972) 2 SCC 80
 (1999) 8 SCC 679.
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