Motive, Preparation & Conduct

Motive, Preparation & Conduct

Author: Ayush Jain, Unitedworld School of Law, Gandhinagar, Gujarat


Motive, preparation, and conduct find a very specific reference in The  Indian Evidence Act,1872. Thus, it is very necessary to understand and establish the relevancy and difference between them. Many criminal cases depend on circumstantial evidence and when the evidence is not clear. Hence, Section 8 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with these terms, and therefore this section plays a very important role in those cases where evidence is not clear and direct. The Motive, preparation, and conduct are very essential to prove the mens rea or a guilty mind in a criminal case. This section is accorded with a high amount of importance in the case of circumstantial evidence. And it is due to this reason that section 8 is often regarded as one of the best provisions in the Indian Evidence Act,1872.


As per section 8 of the Evidence Act, the Motive with which the person commits a certain crime or the preparation which he/she makes towards the commission of the act is a relevant fact. The question of motive, as well as preparation, is very important in cases that purely rely on circumstantial evidence. The rule of res gestae testimony is that it may be allowed when the said testimony goes right to the root of a matter directly connected with the commission of the crime. Thus, this particular principle has been embodied in section 8 of the Evidence Act.

Now, let us see what Section 8 of The Indian Evidence Act say:-

“Any fact is relevant which shows or constitutes a motive or preparation for any fact in issue or relevant fact. The conduct of any party, or of any agent to any party, to any suit or proceeding, in reference to such suit or proceeding, or in reference to any fact in issue therein or relevant thereto, and the conduct of any person an offence against whom is the subject of any proceeding, is relevant if such conduct influences or is influenced by any fact in issue or relevant fact, and whether it was previous or subsequent thereto”.[1]


This section says that if there is any fact that shows or constitutes a motive or preparation for any fact in issue is a relevant fact in the case. The conduct of a party/ agent to a party to a suit or reference to any proceeding is relevant whether it is subsequent or previous.

The word “CONDUCT” in this section does not include the statements unless those statements accompany and explain the acts other than statements, but this explanation is not to affect the relevancy of any statements under any other section of the Act.

When the conduct of any person is relevant in the proceeding, any statement made to him or her in there presence and hearing, which affects such conduct is also relevant here.

Here are some illustrations for better understanding of the section and is relevancy:-

  •  “A” a person who is tried for the murder of another person “B”. The facts that “A” murdered “C”, that “B” knew that “A” had murdered “C”, and that “B” had tried to extort some money from “A” by threatening to make his knowledge public, are relevant in the case.

  •  “A” sues a person “B” upon a bond for the payment of money. And “B” denies the making of the bond. So the fact that, at the time when the bond was alleged to be made, “B” required money for a particular purpose is very relevant in a case.

  •  “A” is tried for the murder of “B” by poison. Hence, the fact that before the death of “B”, “A” procured poison from somewhere similar to that which was administered to the person “B”, is relevant here.
  •  Here, the question is, whether a certain document is the will of “A”?

So the facts that not long before the date of the alleged will, “A” inquired into matters to which the provisions of the alleged will relate that he consulted vakils about making the will and that he caused drafts or other wills to be prepared of which he did not approve, are relevant in the case.

  • Here, “A” is accused of a crime.
    So the acts that, either before or at the time of, or after the alleged crime, “A” proved evidence that would tend to give to the facts of the case an appearance favorable to himself, or that he destroyed or concealed evidence, or prevented the presence or procured the absence of persons who might have been witnesses, or suborned persons to give false evidence respecting to it. Hence these types of facts are relevant in the eyes of law.

  • Now, the question is, whether “A” robbed “B”?
    So, the facts that, after “B” was robbed, and “C” said in A’s presence—”the police are coming to look for the man who robbed “B”, and that immediately afterward the person “A” ran away, are relevant for the case.

  •  The question is, whether “A” owes “B” Rs. 10,000?
    The facts that “A” asked “C” to lend him money, and that D said to C in A’s presence and hearing—“I advise you not to trust “A”, for he owes B 10,000 Rupees”, and that “A” went away without making any answer, are relevant.

  •  The question is, whether “A” committed a crime?
    The fact that “A” absconded after receiving the letter warning him that inquiry was being made for the criminal and the contents of the letter, are relevant to the case.
  • A is accused of a crime. The facts that, after the commission of the alleged crime, he absconded, or owned property or the proceeds of property acquired by the crime, or attempted to conceal things which were or might have been used in committing it, are relevant.

  • The question is, whether “A” was ravished?
    The facts that, shortly after the alleged rape, she made a complaint relating to the crime, the circumstances under which, and the terms in which, the complaint was made, are relevant. Here the fact that, without making a complaint, she said that he had been ravished is not relevant because the conduct under this section, though it may be relevant as a dying declaration under section 32, clause (1), or as corroborative evidence under Section-157.

  •  The question is, whether “A” was robbed?
    The fact that, soon after the alleged robbery, he made a complaint relating to the offence, the circumstances under which, and the terms in which the complaint was made, are relevant. The fact that he said he had been robbed, without making any complaint, is not relevant to the case.

So, from these illustrations, you could have got a better picture of section 8. Now let us understand the meaning of Motive, Preparation, and Conduct in detail.


Motive means “a reason for doing something” so we can say that, the reason behind the act or conduct or an act to be achieved in doing an act is motive. The motive in itself is not an incriminating circumstance and cannot be used in place of proof.[2] A thing to be noted here is that motive is different from intention because intention refers to the immediate consequences and motive means ultimate purpose in which an act is done. So an Act may be done with bad intention but with a good motive. Hence, the evidence of the existence of a motive for the crime charged is Admissible in the court.



In this case, a person named “Munni Bai” was killed. Here, the respondent named “Dhiredra Kumar” had an evil eye on her and was the tenant in the house of the father-in-law of the deceased (Munni bai). When Munnibai reported the matter to her mother in law who in turn told her husband, who told her to vacate the house. Hence, this may be taken as a motive of the murder.


In this case, the son-in-law before his marriage demanded a piece of land from the deceased. The connivance of the mother-in-law was also there before this demand. The marriage took place but the deceased refused to transfer the property in the name of the accused and wanted to give it to the daughter. That infuriated the accused and crime was committed. Therefore, it was held that there was a strong motive for the accused to commit the crime.


Preparation means an act of arranging for the means and the methods required for the commission of a crime by a person. The Supreme Court of India interpreted the word “Preparation” not only as of the action or process of preparing the components to produce the compound, but also that which it is prepared[5].

Section 8, Para I of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 says, “Any fact is relevant which shows or constitutes a motive or preparation for any fact in issue or relevant fact.” However, no inference of guilt should arise when it has been established that the preparation so made was innocent or was for another act that may be legal or may be illegal in nature.



This was a case of burglary. Here the 4 accused conducted a meeting to make arrangements for the crime. A bar made of iron and a pair of pincers were necessary and these were brought by the accused of the case. And these facts were admitted as they showed the preparation on the part of the accused. The preparation showed clearly that an intention to commit the offence of burglary was framed and that intention remained in the minds of the accused until they were grabbing any opportunity to put the preparation into the execution of the crime.


In this case the accused was charged with cheating for importing goods in Karachi port without paying the proper custom duty to the government. The Evidence was produced of the previous visit of the accused to the port of Okha, where it was said he tried to make some arrangements with the customs whereby he could import other goods without payment of the proper duty. Hence, evidence was held to be admissible as they were the preparation being made out by the accused in order to do the wrongful act by him.


Conduct means the manner in which a person behaves, especially in a particular place or situation. But here, the Conduct means specifically the external behavior of the person. The conduct of a person involved in crime becomes relevant if his conduct is related to the incident that happened. The 2nd paragraph of section 8 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 talks about the significance of the conduct. Conduct is different from the character because Conduct is what a person is in the estimation of the others. Therefore, conduct to become relevant under section 8 of IEA need not become simultaneous or spontaneous, i.e. to say with that particular incident that happened.



The recorded telephone conversation about the settling of the bribe-money was held to be evidence of conduct. Therefore Absconding of an accused is relevant conduct under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. However, it must be noted that the act of absconding shows the guilt of the accused only to a certain extent because even innocent persons tend to escape due to the instinct of self-preservation.


Here, in this case, it was held by the Court of law that if the first information is given by the accused himself, the fact of his giving information is admissible against him as evidence of his good conduct.


The Evidence tending to show that the accused had prepared for the crime is always admissible in the court of law. But the mere preparation does not depict the whole scenario of the crime scene but only the arrangements made with respect to the crime. Therefore it is not compulsory that the preparation is always carried out but it is more or less likely to be carried out. Hence, it becomes very difficult to prove the preparation concretely though it is a mere physical fact. From the given facts, the Court is required to draw the inference that most of the facts could be said to constitute preparation of the crime so committed.


In conclusion, we can say that “Motive”, “preparation” and “conduct” are essential to prove a mens rea or a guilty mind in a crime. Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872  is accorded a high amount of importance in case of circumstantial evidence. Hence, it is due to the reason that section 8 is often regarded as one of the most provisions of the Evidence Act. The relevance of the “motive”, “preparation”, “previous and subsequent conduct” has been explained in the article in a very proper way and safeguards have been made inbuilt and that can be found from the illustrations given after the section. If there remains any reasonable doubt in the evidence then the benefit of doubt must be given to the accused. We should remember the principle that no innocent should be punished wrongfully in a crime.


[2] Tara Devi v. State of U.P., AIR 1991 SC 342

[3] AIR 1997 SC 318

[4] 1993 Cr LJ 1635 SC

[5] Union of India & others Vs Formulators Association of India, 2002 8 SCC 410

[6] AIR 1971 Mad 194

[7] AIR 1937 Sind 293

[8] AIR 1973 SC 157

[9] AIR, 1996 SC119

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