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CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE.
The prosecution is under a legal obligation to prove, firstly, on the facts, the existence of such
circumstances and secondly, that the circumstances form a complete chain which leads to the
irresistible conclusion that the accused are guilty and such circumstances are inconsistent with their
innocence1. The essential ingredients to prove guilt of an accused by circumstantial evidence are:

(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion is drawn must be fully proved;
(2) the circumstances must be conclusive in nature;
(3) all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt and
inconsistent with innocence;
(4) the circumstances must to a moral certainty exclude the possibility of guilt of any person
other than the accused2.
Where, however, the evidence indicates reasonable scope for two possibilities and the court is not in
a position to know the actual details of the occurrence, it would not be safe to extend the
presumption under the Indian Evidence Act 18723 as to find the accused guilty with the aid of the
Indian Penal Code 18604.

1
Dhananjaya Reddy v State of Karnataka AIR 2001 SC 1512, Dhananjaya Reddy v State of Karnataka (2001) 4 SCC 9,
Dhananjaya Reddy v State of Karnataka (2001) Cr LJ 1712 (witnesses may lie but the circumstances may not). See
Mani Kumar Thapa v State of Sikkim AIR 2002 SC 2920, Mani Kumar Thapa v State of Sikkim (2002) 7 SCC 157
(where in a case involving police officials abducting a person and killing him, the chain of circumstantial evidence
established beyond all reasonable doubt that the appellant accused shared the common intention of the main accused to
abduct). See also Ayyub v State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 2002 SC 1192, Ayyub v State of Uttar Pradesh (2002) 3 SCC
510, Ayyub v State of Uttar Pradesh (2002) SCC (Cr) 673.
2
Vithal in karan i More v State of Maharashtra AIR 2002 SC 2715, Vithal in karan i More v State of Maharashtra
(2002) 7 SCC 20, Vithal in karan i More v State of Maharashtra (2002) SCC (Cr) 1555 (the circumstantial evidence in
this case fell short of the required standard of proof); see Ayyub v State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 2002 SC 1192, Ayyub v
State of Uttar Pradesh (2002) 3 SCC 510. See also Akella Subrahmanyam v State of Andhra Pradesh (1980) 1 SCC
590, Akella Subrahmanyam v State of Andhra Pradesh (1980) SCC (Cr) 299.
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see Limbaji v State of Maharashtra AIR 2002 SC 491, Limbaji v State of Maharashtra (2001) 10 SCC 340.
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The several circumstances pointing to the innocence of the accused must also be taken into
consideration when considering whether the accused shared the common intention to commit the
offence5.

COMMON INTENTION
Unless common intention is established as a matter of necessary inference6from the proved
circumstances, the accused persons will be liable for their individual acts and not for the act done by
any other person 6 . Where there is no evidence to show any prior concert or preparation or a
common intention of all in the furtherance of which the several acts were committed, conviction
with the aid of the said provision is illegal and each accused is liable for his own acts.7 Fortuitous
presence of an accused, even when armed, in the absence of evidence to establish prearranged plan
to kill the deceased, only shows probability of the existence of a common intention but not a

5
Vithal In karan i More v State of Maharashtra AIR 2002 SC 2715, Vithal In karan i More v State of Maharashtra
(2002) 7 SCC 20.
6
Brijlala Pd Sinha v State of Bihar AIR 1998 SC 2443, Brijlala Pd Sinha v State of Bihar (1998) 5 SCC 699, Brijlala
Pd Sinha v State of Bihar (1998) Cr LJ 3611; Kishan Chand v State of Punjab AIR 1994 SC 32, Kishan Chand v State
of Punjab (1994) Cr LJ 19. See Boota Singh v State of Punjab (1997) SCC (Cr) 904 (where two of the co-accused had
to be acquitted for the offence under the Indian Penal Code 1860s 302 read with s 34, but, their conviction under the
Indian Penal Code 1860ss 323 read with s 34 and s 324 read with s 34 was sustained; the third accused, who did not
participate in the actual assault but who persuaded the deceased to come out of his house, was alleged to have shared
with the actual assailant, the common intention to murder and his conviction under the Indian Penal Code 1860ss 302
and s 34 was sustained).
7
Amrik Singh v State of Punjab (1972) 4 SCC 42, Amrik Singh v State of Punjab (1972) Cr LJ 465; see also
Atmaduddin v State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1974 SC 1901, Atmaduddin v State of Uttar Pradesh (1973) 4 SCC 35,
Atmaduddin v State of Uttar Pradesh (1974) Cr LJ 1300; Bhagwan Bux Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1978 SC
34, Bhagwan Bux Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh (1978) 1 SCC 34, Bhagwan Bux Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh (1978)
Cr LJ 153; Chandubhai Shanabhai Parmar v State of Gujarat AIR 1982 SC 1022, Chandubhai Shanabhai Parmar v
State of Gujarat (1981) Supp SCC 46, Chandubhai Shanabhai Parmar v State of Gujarat (1982) Cr LJ 987; Jaspal
Singh v State of Haryana AIR 1977 SC 1821, Jaspal Singh v State of Haryana (1976) 4 SCC 303, Jaspal Singh v State
of Haryana (1977) Cr LJ 1457; Dharam Pal v State of Haryana AIR 1978 SC 1492, Dharam Pal v State of Haryana
(1978) 4 SCC 440, Dharam Pal v State of Haryana (1978) Cr LJ 1538; Nadodi Jayaraman v State of Tamil Nadu AIR
1993 SC 777, Nadodi Jayaraman v State of Tamil Nadu (1992) Supp 3 SCC 161, Nadodi Jayaraman v State of Tamil
Nadu (1993) Cr LJ 426; Shangara v State of Punjab (1995) SCC (Cr) 163, Shangara v State of Punjab (1994) Cr LJ
1098.
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certainty sufficient to convict using the said provision8. Where the evidence does not establish the
participation of the accused in the incident of shooting and there is a controversy about the role he
allegedly played, in the absence of common intention, he may not be convicted9. A fact may be
established by direct evidence or circumstantial evidence and there is no distinction between what is
found by inference from the evidence and what is found from direct evidence.
Even if an accused is not able to prove his defence, he is entitled to the benefit of the principle that
circumstantial evidence must be of such a nature as to exclude any other inference except that of
guilt advanced by the prosecution to sustain a conviction.

MOTIVE

Suspicion, however strong it may be, may not take the place of legal proof and the mere fact that
there was animosity between the accused and prosecuting parties by itself, without any other
evidence to show that the accused had hatched the conspiracy would not be sufficient to convict the
accused10.Where the circumstances are compatible also with the innocence of the accused persons,
it will not be held that the prosecution has successfully established its case. Even if some acts are
proved to have been committed, it must be clear that they were so committed in pursuance of an
agreement made between the accused who were parties to the alleged conspiracy11. Inferences from
such proved circumstances regarding the guilt may be drawn only when such circumstances are
incapable of any other reasonable explanation 12 . Only proof beyond reasonable doubt and not
conclusive proof is required for conviction; that is, there must be a chain of circumstances so far
consistent and complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the

8
Gajjan Singh v State of Punjab AIR 1976 SC 2069, Gajjan Singh v State of Punjab (1976) 3 SCC 391, Gajjan Singh v
State of Punjab (1976) Cr LJ 1640.
9
Mastan Singh v State of Punjab (1988) SCC (Cr) 42.
10
State of Uttar Pradesh v Moti Ram AIR 1990 SC 1709, State of Uttar Pradesh v Moti Ram (1990) 4 SCC 389, State
of Uttar Pradesh v Moti Ram (1990) Cr LJ 1910.
11
PK Narayanan v State of Kerala (1995) 1 SCC 142, PK Narayanan v State of Kerala (1995) SCC (Cr) 215.
12
PK Narayanan v State of Kerala (1995) 1 SCC 142, PK Narayanan v State of Kerala (1995) SCC (Cr) 215. See also
Kehar Singh v State (Delhi Administration) AIR 1988 SC 1883, Kehar Singh v State (Delhi Administration) (1988) 3
SCC 609.
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innocence of the accused, and it must be such as to show that in all probability the act must have
been done by the accused and the accused alone
To constitute a reasonable doubt, it must be an objective and probable response. Doubts must be
actual and substantial doubt as to the guilt of the accused arising from the evidence, or from the lack
of it. A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely possible doubt, but a genuine doubt
based upon reason and commonsense. It must be the result of the evidence in the case. The idea of
probability, and its degrees, may not be expressed in terms of units capable of being measured
mathematically. There is an incalculable subjective element in the evaluation of the degrees of
probabilities and the quantum of proof. Such probability in a legal matter must rest more on
commonsense and, ultimately, on the trained instruction of the judge. The protection given by the
criminal process to accused persons must not be eroded, but at the same time, legal effect must not
be given to trivialities. Suspicion, however grave, is an insufficient basis for conviction and may
not take the place of positive proof.
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PREVIOUS BAD CHARACTER


Evidence of bad character, by its very nature, is of a
kind that projects the accused in bad light,
reprehensible to the conscience of the judge/jurors. In
that case, the law casts a presumption of prejudice.
Consequently, introduction of bad character of accused
as evidence carries the undeniable threat of conviction
based purely on a tendency of misconduct.
Alternatively, conviction may be an act of vindication,
wherein punishment is afflicted in the case at hand,
rooted in the belief that accused would have escaped
punishment on a previous occasion. These situations
Wigmore labels as those affording undue prejudice to
the accused. It is submitted that such prejudice, by
placing undue reliance on the character of the accused,
may even have the devastating effect of undermining
the presumption of innocence.
The issue of undue surprise is equally demonstrative of
the pitfalls of admission of bad character evidence. It is
considered unjust to present the judge with
overwhelming evidence of prior misconduct, which the
accused is unprepared to defend, and has adverse
consequences on the future of the accused as well.
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Next, evidence of bad character is, at best, peripheral


to the main issue. Therefore, attaching undue
relevance to such evidence leads to a confusion of the
issues at hand, and necessarily detracts attention from
the main issues that require determination.
The general exclusion of evidence of character is based
upon the public policy and fairness, since its admission
would surprise and prejudice the parties by raking up
the whole of their careers, which they could not come
into court prepared to defend. 13 “In certain
circumstances, evidence of reputation is admissible for
the purpose of establishing a person’s good or bad
character. The admission of evidence of reputation is
now largely confined to defamation action, where what
is relevant will depend upon the terms of the pleadings.
Where damages are at large, the bad character of the
plaintiff in such action may be proved in chief, in
mitigation of damages, irrespective of the right to cross
examine. “Exclusion of evidence of character is bases
on the principle of law, that the evidence adduced
should be alike, directed and confined to the matter are
dispute, or which form the subject matter of the

13 Queen v. Rewton, (1865) 34 LJ (MC) 57.


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trail”.14 “To admit evidence in every case, or to reject it


is every case, would be equally fatal to justice;

"It is undoubtedly not competent for the persecution to


adduce evidence tending to show that he accused had
been guilty of criminal acts other than those covered by
the indictment, for the purpose of leading to the
conclusion that the accused is a person likely from his
criminal conduct or character to have committed the
offence for which he is being tried. On the other hand,
the mere fact that the evidence adduced tends to show
the commission of other crimes does not render it
inadmissible if it be relevant to an issue before the jury,
and it may be so relevant if it bears upon the question
whether the acts alleged to constitute the crime
charged in the indictment were designed or accidental,
or to rebut a defence which would otherwise be open to
the accused". 15 It was sought to be proved by the
prosecution that some of the accused were closely and
intimately connected with the approver and the object
of that association during a period of several months

14

15Reg. V. Geering, 1849-18 LJ MC 215, Reg. v. Dossett,


1848-2 Car and Kir 306, Reg. v. Gray, (1866-4F and F
1102)
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prior to the dacoity in question had been the


commission of thefts and other discreditable acts. Mr.
Justice Kemp held that as the evidence related to the
character of the accused, it could not be relevant under
Section 54. It is plain that the evidence, was not and
could not be relevant under any of the group sections
we are considering. The evidence of association of the
accused with the approver was held relevant, under
Section 9 to support the approver's statement that
conspiracy in fact existed.16 Where the bad character is
not in issue, the constant reference to the accused as a
goonda, is entirely irrelevant, and if it is allowed, it is
bound to adversely affect the accused so far as the
charge against him is concerned.17 To call the accused a
goonda is surely prejudicing the jury against him. If the
court pointedly drew the jury attention of the jury in
summing up the case at more than once place that the
accused was a goonda the jury’s verdict is
vitiated. 18 The history sheet of the accused kept in
police station, is not admissible is proof of a man’s
character, as it based on hearsay. 19 It is the court’s

16 Ibrahim v The King,[1914] UKPC 1, [1914] AC 599


17 Nimoo Pal Majumdar v. State, 1955 Cal 559.
18 Babulal v. State, AIR 1959 Cal 693.
19 Kamal Kanto V State AIR 1959 Cal 342.
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paramount duty to see that inadmissible evidence,


especially about the previous bad character of the
accused is not brought out, even though; the defense
lawyer may have overlooked the rule of evidence on
this subject.20

20 Kandur Kasta v. State, (1962) 28 Cut. L.T. 185