What is meant by ‘Circumstantial Evidence’?

The word ‘circumstance’ means a situation whereas, the word ‘evidence’ refers to proof or findings of a fact, thus the term circumstantial evidence refers to a situation contemplated on the basis of findings of a fact. Commonly, circumstantial evidence can be defined as indirect evidence and is taken out from direct observations of the fact in question. It is a common misapprehension that such evidence is weak on its own; however, it is a powerful and strong form of evidence since a number of judges relies on circumstantial evidence while giving successful judgments. Such evidence can be relied upon in both civil and criminal cases.

Evidence admissible in the Court of Law

Courts can draw out conclusions from a number of facts and evidences however, only a certain type of evidence is admissible in the Courts. In the landmark case, Bodh Gaya v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Court laid down a number of conditions pertaining to which conviction can take place. The conditions laid down are as follows:

  • Circumstances must be conclusive in nature.
  • Circumstances must form a sequence of proofs lined up without leaving any doubts for the conclusion with respect to the innocence of the defendant.
  • The facts drawn out, in all aspects must throw light on the guilt of the accused.
  • All other assumptions and theories must be excluded except for the one required to be proved.

Circumstantial evidence includes various factors and observations such as such as motive, mindset of the accused person on commission of crime, accused person in possession of crime weapons, identifications such as DNA, fingerprints or body liquids and observations by other people present around crime location.

In Navaneethakrishnan v. The State by Inspector of Police, the Supreme Court of India emphasized on essential principles of Criminal Law in India, namely, the identification parade of the accused, last seen doctrine and statement made by accused before the police.


Accused- Shiv Lal Doda and 25 others

FIR- FIR (no. 120) under Sections 302/ 307/ 326/ 148/149/115/201/120-B IPC and Section 3(2) of the SC/ST Act, registered on December 12, 2015 at Wahabwala police station of Fazilka district.

Deceased- Bhim Sain Tank

Circumstantial Evidence in Tank Murder Case
Circumstantial Evidence in Tank Murder Case


  • Politician and liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda along with 25 others was accused of murder of Bhim Singh Tank at Doda’s farmhouse in Abohar. It was alleged that Tank was smuggling liquor illegally in the area where Doda had his liquor shops.
  • Bhim Tank and his associate Gurjant Singh went to Doda’s farmhouse on 11 December, 2015 to resolve a dispute, where Doda’s men attacked both of them with sharp-edged weapons resulting in loss of their limbs. Tank died on the way to the hospital whereas Singh survived irrespective of loss of limbs.
  • Gurjant Singh appeared before the court as a witness to the proceedings. Doda and 25 others were tried under Section 302, 307, 326, 148, 149, 115 and 120B under IPC, section 3(2v) of the SC Act and Arms Act.
  • Doda approached the Fazilka Court for grant of anticipatory bail; however, his application was dismissed by the Court on 4 January, 2016. Thereafter, he approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where also his bail application was dismissed. After dismissals, Doda finally surrendered before the SSP of Fazilka district on 21 January, 2016.
  • Even during judicial custody Doda was active in his business and political affairs being managed from Fazlika jail. More than the permitted number of individuals used to visit Doda past the visiting hours which resulted in a case filed under various clauses of the jail manual against 25 person including Doda.
  • As a defence, Doda contended that he along with his nephew Amit Doda were at a function in Delhi at the time of commission of the offence and supported this contention by producing a video-clip. The judge ruled out that even though they were not present at Abohar, they were in constant touch with their men and were aware about all the happenings as observed with the help of evidences like phone calls given on record. Further, it was observed that 22 armed men cannot enter Doda’s premises without his knowledge.

Final judgment:

The long awaited decision finally came on 8 August, 2019 convicting Shiv Lal Doda and 23 others for murder of Bhim Sain Tank in 2015 by awarding them life imprisonment and Rs 25000/- fine. Jaspal Verma, Additional District and Session Judge, Fazlika Court further acquitted Pradeep Kumar and granted four year imprisonment to Vicky Pandit. Further, it was directed that Gurjant and legal heirs of Tank can file a suit for compensation.

You may also consult best/top/expert Criminal Lawyers/Advocates in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali & Punjab and Haryana High Court for your specific case.

This post is written by Prabhjot Kaur of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies. For more info, please call 99888-17966