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Analysis of Circumstancial Evidence.

Updated: Jan 20

Smt. Gargi .v. State Of Haryana Criminal Appeal No. 1046 Of 2010


The case is based on the principles of circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence means deciding a case based on the series of events that took place at the crime scene when eyewitnesses are absent. In such cases, The prosecution must prove the circumstances and point it towards the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the instant case, an appeal was through a Special Leave Petition [SLP] under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution against the judgment passed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court. This Court upheld the charges Under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code i.e Punishment for murder.

Supreme Court Judgment

The judgment by the Hon’ble Court thoroughly examines the principles of circumstantial evidence. It remains trite that in judicial proceedings, a proof is made by the means of production of evidence, which may be either oral or documentary. Regarding its nature, the evidence is either direct or circumstantial. The direct evidence proves the existence of a particular fact that emanates from a document or an object and/or what has been observed by the witnesses. The circumstantial evidence is the one where other facts are proved from the existence of a fact in issue, which may either be logically inferred or at least more probably rendered.

The Court subsequently relied on a few landmark judgments on the principles of circumstantial evidence which were laid down precisely. In the case of Chandmal and Anr .v. State of Rajasthan, this Court said:- “It is well settled that when a case rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy three tests. Firstly, the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn must be cogently and firmly established. Secondly, these circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused. Thirdly, 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. That is to say, the circumstances should be incapable of explanation on any reasonable hypothesis save that of the accused’s guilt.”

The second important judgment the Court relied upon was Sharad Birdhichand Sarda .v. State of Maharashtra, where this Court laid down the golden principles of the standard of proof required in a case to be established on circumstantial evidence.

Thus, in the framework of a crime, circumstantial evidence essentially means such facts and surrounding factors which do point towards the collaboration of the accused; a chain of circumstances means such incontestible linking of the facts and the surrounding factors that they establish only the guilt of the charged accused beyond a reasonable doubt while ruling out any other theory or possibility or hypothesis. Therefore, due to several mis-findings of the lower Courts, the Supreme Court acquitted the appellants by giving them the benefit of doubt, and the charges were set aside.


A major takeaway from this being that circumstantial evidence has to be carefully looked through and any chain that is broken poses a reasonable doubt, thereby making it necessary to follow the golden principles set forth in the landmark judgments.


Natasha. K. is currently pursuing Law at CMR University, School of Legal Studies.

You can contact them at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-k-976907195.

Edited by: Swathi Ashok Nair

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