It is used when direct evidence is not available. Some offenses are committed in such a location and in such a way that it is difficult to find evidence. In fact, circumstantial evidence is that which relates to a series of facts other than the fact in issue, but it is found to be so linked with the fact in issue in respect of cause and effect as to lead to an adequate outcome.
Circumstantial evidence should not be confused with secondary evidence or hearsay evidence. At all times, it is direct and primary that is the facts from which the existing fact in issue to be inferred must be established by a direct evidence.
An example can be given of footprints which are found on sand through with it can be inferred that some animate being went in that direction and also from the shape of footprints it can be discovered as to whether such footprints are of animal, bird or human being. Similarly from the circumstantial evidence the fact-in-issue is inferred, or the presence of mud on the clothes or blood of the accused.
In state of Maharashtra vs Bharat Fakira Dhiwar, 2002, the Supreme Court held that all the circumstantial evidence clearly and inerringly indicated the guilt of the accused. The circumstances strongly support the testimony of the child witness. Therefore, ignoring and dismissing these circumstances by the High Court and acquitting the accused was not appropriate. Therefore, the Supreme Cout upheld the conviction recorded by the court of first instance.
In Meria Venkata Rao vs State of AP, 1994, it was held that in the event of a circumstantial evidence, all the circumstances should be established by independent evidence and they should form a complete chain, bringing the guilt of the accused home without leaving room for any other hypothesis. In this case, the prosecution case was based on extra-judicial confessions as one of the circumstance and the accused about the confession at the instance of police cannot be ruled out. The extra-judicial confessions were questionable. Therefore, the conviction was quashed.