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Motive, Preparation and Conduct in Evidence Act

Updated: May 18

Motive Preparationnand Conduct under Evidence Act


Under Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, the motive behind an act or the preparations made for its commission are considered. Evidence of motive or preparation is particularly significant in cases reliant solely on circumstantial evidence.

This section encapsulates the principle that testimony of res gestae is permissible when it pertains directly to the commission of a crime. Therefore, a verbal statement made to a police officer during the recovery of items based on information provided by an accused in custody is admissible as evidence.


Motive is the driving force behind a person's actions, compelling them to engage in a particular act. Every voluntary action is believed to have a motive, which is essential for its occurrence. Typically, the voluntary actions of mentally sound individuals are propelled by an underlying emotion or motive.

Motive, in its true essence, refers to the emotion thought to have prompted the act. It is often inferred from a person's behaviour.

"The common feelings, emotions, and tendencies that influence individuals' actions are facts grounded in observation and experience.

They operate so consistently that it is reasonable to conclude that if a person acts in a certain way, they are likely driven by a specific motive."

Previous threats, altercations, or legal disputes between parties are admissible to demonstrate motive. However, the mere presence of motive alone does not constitute incriminating evidence.

No matter how compelling the motive, it cannot substitute for concrete proof. The motive behind the commission of a crime holds particular significance in cases reliant solely on circumstantial evidence.

Case Law on Motive

In such instances, motive itself becomes a factor for the court to consider. Nonetheless, the absence of motive does not warrant the dismissal of circumstantial evidence.

Sukhpal Singh v. State of Punjab (2019) 15 SCC 622: The Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution's failure to establish motive in a circumstantial evidence case does not automatically undermine the prosecution's case.

Rishipal v. State of Uttarakhand, AIR 2013 SC 3641: This case emphasises that in cases relying on circumstantial evidence, motive holds considerable importance.

Anwar Ali v. State of HP. (2020) 10 SCC 166: This case further clarifies that while the absence of proven motive cannot be the sole basis for rejecting the prosecution's case, in cases based on circumstantial evidence, the absence of motive may weigh in favour of the accused.



Preparation involves arranging or devising the necessary means or measures for committing a crime. The actions taken by the accused to carry out the alleged crime, prevent its discovery, facilitate their escape, or divert suspicion are pertinent in determining their culpability.

When assessing whether an individual, say A, has committed an offence, their procurement of the tools used in its commission is relevant. Examples (c) and (d) elucidate the concept of preparation.

However, no presumption of guilt arises if the preparations might have been innocent or intended for a different, albeit illegal, purpose. Likewise, if the intended crime is thwarted or voluntarily abandoned, the preparations do not imply guilt.

Consider this scenario: A is charged with murdering B by poisoning. Evidence reveals that A recently purchased a quantity of poison, prompting suspicion. Yet, it is disclosed that A acquired the poison to exterminate pests, undermining the presumption of guilt.

Similarly, if A prepares poison with the intent to kill B but later renounces the plan and refrains from using it, the inference drawn from the purchase of poison is negated.


Section 8 scrutinises the conduct of any party or their agent in relation to a lawsuit or legal proceeding. A fact can be established through a party's conduct and the surrounding circumstances.

The presentation of items by an accused individual is pertinent as evidence of their actions. Statements made in connection with or explaining conduct are also relevant as part of that conduct.

For instance, a recorded telephone conversation discussing the details of a bribe transaction was considered evidence of conduct.

The court referenced R v Leatham, stating, "It matters not how you get it, if you steal it even, it would be admissible in evidence." Without such statements on record, the evidence remains incomplete or flawed.

In cases where an accused person absconds upon suspicion of involvement in a murder, such behaviour is relevant under this section and may suggest a degree of guilt. However, it is not the only conclusion the court must draw.

The natural instinct of self-preservation may lead innocent individuals to evade arrest when suspected of serious crimes.

Regarding the term "absconder," the Supreme Court clarified that one need not necessarily flee from home to be considered an absconder; hiding to evade legal proceedings, even within one's own home, suffices. To "abscond" means to depart secretly or unlawfully to avoid custody or arrest.

In a specific case, individuals claimed they were going from their workplace to their home in another district, where they were subsequently taken into custody. The Supreme Court found it challenging to label them as absconders, even if they were not seen at their workplace after the alleged incident.

Additionally, the behaviour of a suspect secretly squatting in a hiding place and the conduct of an official when questioned immediately after accepting a bribe were admitted as evidence.

Refusal to participate in an identification parade or provide footprints for comparison can also be seen as indicative of guilt.

Conduct Accompanying or Explaining Statements

Explanation 1: The behaviour of a party with an interest in any legal proceeding at the time when the events giving rise to the proceeding occurred holds significant relevance. This explanation clarifies that the term "conduct" excludes statements, except when those statements accompany and elucidate actions other than verbal declarations.

In many instances, the significance of an action depends entirely on the statement accompanying it. Mere verbal statements, as distinct from actions, do not constitute conduct.

Case Law

In the case of Kali Jeeban Bhattacharjya v Emperor, (1936) 63 Cal 1053, a statement by a retiring partner, made immediately after his retirement, explaining his refusal to continue guaranteeing the firm's account with a bank, may be deemed admissible to elucidate his conduct.

Similarly, in the case of Basanti v State of HP, 1987 Cr LJ 1869, the conduct of the deceased's wife in misleading relatives and others by falsely stating that the deceased had left the village and not returned was considered relevant under this section.

Statements Affecting Conduct

Explanation 2: The conduct must be closely connected to a fact in question or a relevant fact. In this context, the conduct of the accused, such as guiding the police to the location where the weapon of offence or related items were concealed, was deemed relevant conduct.

This relevance persists whether the conduct occurred simultaneously with the event or at another time.


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