Circumstantial evidence requires that the facts to support the hypothesis of the accused’s guilt: Supreme Court

Case title: Pradeep Kumar vs The state of Haryana

Case no.: Criminal Appeal No. 1338 of 2010

Decided on: 05.01.2024

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice B.R Gavai, Hon’ble Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha



The sole appellant in this case was tried alongside another accused for the murder of one Samsher Singh, and the Trial Court convicted him under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for life. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana dismissed the appeal and confirmed the conviction and sentence in the judgement impugned. This brings us to the current appeal.


Section 302 of the IPC states that a person who commits murder will face the death penalty. Section 34 of the IPC addresses common intention. When two or more people commit a criminal act with the same intention, all of them are liable.


The appellants contended that the evidence which was accepted by the Trial Court and High Court, is based on circumstantial evidence said to have been established by the witnesses are unreliable.


After analysing the witnesses’ statements, the court concluded that there is a significant gap between the charge against the Appellant and the evidence presented by the prosecution. The circumstances do not establish the appellant’s guilt. While the principle of circumstantial evidence requires that the facts be consistent with the accused’s guilt hypothesis, the evidence presented in this case raises doubts, improbabilities, and inconsistencies. The court stated that after carefully considering the case and noting the various discrepancies and improbabilities, it is clear that the prosecution has not established its case beyond reasonable doubt. The Appellant is eligible for acquittal.


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Written by – Surya Venkata Sujith


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