Criminal trial - Circumstantial evidence - The Judge while deciding matters resting on circumstantial evidence
should always tread cautiously so as to not allow conjectures or suspicion, however strong, to take the place of proof - If the alleged circumstances are conclusively proved before the Court by
leading cogent and reliable evidence, the Court need not look any further before affirming the guilt of the accused - Moreover, human agency may be faulty in expressing the picturisation of the
actual incident, but circumstances cannot fail or be ignored - As aptly put in this oft quoted phrase: “Men may lie, but circumstances do not” - As mentioned supra, the circumstances relied
upon by the prosecution should be of a conclusive nature and they should be such as to exclude every other hypothesis except the one to be proved by the prosecution regarding the guilt of the
accused. There must be a chain of evidence proving the circumstances so complete so as to not leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion of innocence of the accused - Criminal Trial -
IPC, S. 302, 364 and 201.
Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (1984) 4 SCC 116 (SCC p. 185 para 153-154):
“153. A close analysis of this decision would show that the following conditions must be fulfilled before a case against an accused can be said to be fully
(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established.
It may be noted here that this Court indicated that the circumstances concerned “must or should” and not “may be” established. There is not only a grammatical but
a legal distinction between “may be proved” and “must be or should be proved” as was held by this Court in Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra 1973 CriLJ 1783 where the following
observations were made:
“Certainly, it is a primary principle that the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before a Court can convict and the mental distance between ‘may be’
and ‘must be’ is long and divides vague conjectures from sure conclusions.”
(2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any
other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty,
(3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency,
(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved, and
(5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must
show that in all humanprobability the act must have been done by the accused.
154. These five golden principles, if we may say so, constitute the panchsheel of the proof of a case based on circumstantial
evidence.” 2019 SCeJournal 471