Circumstantial evidence

In a case where there is no direct witness to prove the prosecution case, conviction of the accused can be made on the basis of circumstantial evidence provided the chain of the circumstances is complete beyond all reasonable doubt. It was observed by this Court in the case of Prakash v. State of Karnataka, (2014) 12 SCC 133, as follows:

“51. It is true that the relevant circumstances should not be looked at in a disaggregated manner but collectively. Still, this does not absolve the prosecution from proving each relevant fact.

“6. In a case of circumstantial evidence, each circumstance must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence and the circumstances so proved, must form a complete chain without giving room to any other hypotheses and should be consistent with only the guilt of the accused. (Lakhjit Singh v. State of Punjab, 1994 Supp (1) 173)”

It has also been the observation of this Court in Musheer Khan v. State of M.P., (2010) 2 SCC 748, apropos the admissibility of evidence in a case solely based upon circumstantial evidence that

“55. Section 27 starts with the word `provided’.

Therefore, it is a proviso by way of an exception to Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act. If the facts deposed under Section 27 are not voluntary, then it will not be admissible, and will be hit by Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. [See State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad, [AIR 1961 SC 1808].

 The Privy Council in Pulukori Kottaya v. King Emperor, [1947 PC 67] held that Section 27 of the Evidence Act is not artistically worded but it provides an exception to the prohibition imposed under the preceding sections. However, the extent of discovery admissible pursuant to the facts deposed by accused depends only to the nature of the facts discovered to which the information precisely relates.

 The limited nature of the admissibility of the facts discovered pursuant to the statement of the accused under Section 27 can be illustrated by the following example: Suppose a person accused of murder deposes to the police officer the fact as a result of which the weapon with which the crime is committed is discovered, but as a result of such discovery no inference can be drawn against the accused, if there is no evidence connecting the knife with the crime alleged to have been committed by the accused.


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