Circumstantial evidence should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Sanjay Karol, Acting CJ and Ajay Mohan Goel, J., decided a criminal appeal filed by the State, wherein the order of acquittal passed in favor of the accused by the trial court was upheld.

The respondent was one of the accused in a criminal case registered under Sections 302 and 201 read with Section 34 IPC. The accused was alleged of murder of the deceased with whom he had strained relations due to pending litigation. The trial court acquitted the accused on the ground that the prosecution was not able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Aggrieved thus, the State filed the instant petition.

The High Court perused the record and found that there was no eyewitness to the alleged incident and the prosecution case was wholly based on circumstantial evidence. The Court referred to a Supreme Court decision in Vijay Thakur v. State of H.P., (2014) 14 SCC 609 to discuss the law regarding circumstantial evidence. The Court observed that the said case carved out following principles relating to circumstantial evidence, on the basis of which guilt of the accused can be proved:

1. Circumstances from which the guilt is to be drawn must be fully established;

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. Circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;

4.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 human probability the act must have been done by the accused.

In the instant case, the Court was of the view that the prosecution was not able to complete the chain of circumstances so as to exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved. The case of the prosecution was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the appeal filed by the State was dismissed and the trial court’s order of acquitting the appellant was upheld. [State of H.P. v. Mahinder Kumar, 2017 SCC OnLine HP 1856, order dated 11.12.2017]

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