Convictions Based on Circumstantial Evidence: Does A Bias Exist?

Pranav Kumar

Convictions based on circumstantial evidence are not uncommon. However, there seems to be an adjudicatory difference in the treatment accorded to such evidence by the judges. This article attempts to study such differences and rationalise it. To that end, it shows that despite the Courts explicitly declaring parity between circumstantial and direct evidence (in the sense, that conviction can be based on both), judges do show an implicit undervaluation of circumstantial evidence that is not explained by mere lack of probative value of such evidence. It then argues that such bias is psychological and not cognitive, and moves on to rationalise it further. Thus, the article impresses that judges don’t disregard individual circumstantial evidence by calculating its probative value but do so because they are psychologically biased against all circumstantial evidence.


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