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Motive, Preparation and Conduct

Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about the importance and of motive, preparation & conduct (previous & subsequent) in various cases. And it is a well- known fact that Motive & Preparation are among the first act before any conduct. Therefore Section 8 explains the importance of motive, preparation and conduct where there are no direct evidence and the facts are proven on the basis of circumstantial.


The general meaning of ‘Motive’ a purpose, or objective to obtain something. Motive refers to the internal motivation that tempts a man to do a particular act. As a general rule, there can be no act without a motive. The voluntary actions of sane persons are always guided by a motive. The conduct of the person is regarded as the proof for the motive. The Supreme Court of India defined motive is something which induces or activates a person to make an intention and knowledge, with respect to awareness of consequences of the act. It must be noted that motive, by itself, is not an incriminating circumstance and cannot be used in place of proof. Motive assumes an important role in cases relying solely on circumstantial evidence because, in such cases, motive itself is seen as a circumstance. Motive cannot always be shown directly. It has to be inferred from the facts and circumstances in evidence.

The Supreme Court in the reference of motive said that ‘if the witnesses of any case are trustworthy and have enough credibility then the motive of any act done by the offender has no such importance’.

Although motive and intention are the same there is a thin line of difference between them that intention is the pre-calculation or knowledge of ascertained consequences in the mind of the offender. In some cases, it is observed that sometimes motive behind the execution of a crime may be good but the intention is always bad or guilt-oriented.

Important Judgments

Chunni Lal v. State of U.P. AIR 2010 SC 2467

In this case the accused, who expected of inheriting his childless Uncle’s property, was frustrated when the Uncle got married and had a child. The uncle was murdered and the accused was found to be struggling to get the property transferred in his name. These facts held to be relevant since they established a motive on part of the accused to murder the deceased.

Gurmej Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1992 SC 214

The deceased has won the election against the accused. It is also seen that they don’t have good relations between and they have always had a quarrel with each other. The reason behind frequent quarrels was that the accused diverted dirty water stream towards the house of the deceased. The court observed that there were pending litigation between them and dirty water stream induced the frustration between them. After the death of the deceased, the Court concluded that dispute related to the passage of dirty water could be the motive of the murder.


Preparation refers to the act of arranging for the means and methods required for the commission of the crime. Thus, where the A is being tried for the murder of B by poison, the fact that A had procured a similar poison prior to the murder is relevant. The Supreme Court of India interpreted ‘preparation’ as a word which denotes the action or preparation of any act and also those components which are prepared. Preparation includes arranging the essentials objects for the commission of a crime/offence.

Evidence tending to show that the accused had prepared for the crime is always admissible. Preparation does not express the whole scenario of the case rather preparation is only subjected to the arrangements made in respect of committing any act. Further, there is no mandate that preparation is always carried out but it is more or less likely to be carried out. It is very difficult to prove preparation as there is no mandate that preparation is always carried out for the purpose of committing any crime. It is mostly observed that the Court draw inference with certain facts in establishing or ascertaining the preparation of crime committed.


Section 8 of The Indian Evidence Act also defines ‘conduct’, conduct here means an external behaviour of a person. Conduct of the accused which is unnatural and abnormal, such as absconding, inability to provide explanation, inability to disclose location during the commission of offence, providing false alibis, secretive cremation of death body, which destroys the presumption of innocence is a relevant factor in establishing guilt and building the chain of events.

To check if the conduct of a person is relevant to the incident then the court must establish a link between the conduct of a person who committed the crime and the conduct of incident. The most important role of this part is that the relevant conduct must bring the court to a conclusion of the dispute. If the Court came to a conclusion then the conduct was previous or subsequent, it shall be checked properly by the Court.

It is very clear that conduct is one of the very important evidence explained under Section 8 and such importance is only considered when this conduct is in direct form, otherwise, if the conduct is recognised indirectly then it will lose its importance.

For example: - After the murder of B, the prime accused C went out of the state and subsequently disappeared to avoid arrest. The conduct of C is inconsistent with the conduct of an innocent man. Thus, increasing the presumption of guilt.

Important Judgments

Sunil v. State of Rajasthan, 2001 Cr LJ 3063 (Raj)

The presence of the accused near the village before and after the crime took place was held to be evidence of conduct under section 8 of the Evidence Act.

Nagesha v. State of Bihar, AIR, 1996 SC 119

It was held by the Court if the first information is given by the accused himself, the fact of his giving information is admissible against him as evidence of his conduct.

About the Author

  • Adv. Abhishek Gupta (Natraj Legal Solutions)
  • Delhi High Court
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