SC: Presence of “motive” not compulsory for prosecution in cases of circumstantial evidence

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 12th February 2019, in the matter of Sukhpal Singh v. State of Punjab, pronounced that although establishing motive strengthens the prosecution in the cases based upon circumstantial evidence but absence of motive for the commission of the crime by the accused shall not be fatal to prosecution if other material is available before the court by way of circumstantial evidence.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

In an appeal maintained under leave under Section 136 this Court would not ordinarily go into the credibility of the witnesses whose testimony has inspired the confidence of the courts.(Para 12)

It is undoubtedly true that the question of motive may assume significance in a prosecution case based on circumstantial evidence. But the question is whether in a case of circumstantial evidence inability on the part of the prosecution to establish a motive is fatal to the prosecution case. While it is true that if the prosecution establishes a motive for the accused to commit a crime it will undoubtedly strengthen the prosecution version based on circumstantial evidence, but that is far cry from saying that the absence of a motive for the commission of the crime by the accused will irrespective of other material available before the court by way of circumstantial evidence be fatal to the prosecution.(Para 15)

Copy of judgement:Judgement 12-Feb-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

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