Corpus Delicti – Legal Maxim

Literal Meaning

The body that is the gist of the crime.


Corpus delicti is a latin legal maxim most commonly understood as the body of the crime (plural: corpora delicti) the legal maxim is a term from Western jurisprudence referring to the rule that an offence must be proved to have occurred before a person can be convicted of committing that offence.




A person cannot be tried for theft unless it can be established beyond reasonable doubt that property has been stolen. Similarly, in order for a person to be tried for murder it must be proven that a criminal act resulted in the homicide of the victim.

Case Reference

A. Rishi Pal V. State Of Uttarkhand[1]

If the prosecution is successful in providing cogent and satisfactory proof of the victim having met a homicidal death, absence of corpus delicti will not by itself be fatal to a charge of murder.

B. Karnataka v. M.V. Mahesh[2]

“It is no doubt true that even in the absence of the corpus delicti it is possible to establish in an appropriate case commission of murder on appropriate material being made available to the court. In this case no such material is made available to the court.”

C. Rama Nand and Ors. v. State of Himachal Pradesh (1981) 1 SCC 511[3]

Discovery of the dead-body of the victim bearing physical evidence of violence has never been considered as the only mode of proving the corpus delicti in murder.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] Rishi Pal v. State of Uttarkhand, A.I.R. 2013 S.C. 3641.

[2] Karnataka v. M.V. Mahesh, A.I.R. (2003) 3 S.C.C. 353.

[3] Rama Nand and Ors. v. State of Himachal Pradesh, A.I.R. 1981 1 S.C.C. 511.


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I am Amol Verma from Chanakya National Law University, Patna pursuing B.B.A, LL.B (Hons.). Being a first-generation lawyer, the motivation to study law came from its dynamic nature and how it keeps on changing to cater to the needs of society. My areas of interest include the Law of Contracts, Criminal Law, Corporate Law, and IPR. I love to take part in moot court activities, parliamentary debates, and seminars. I am a member of the Academic and Debating Committee of CNLU and CNLU’s Legal Aid Cell. I like to read, research and write on legal issues as it helps me in understanding the practical functioning of law as well as keeps me updated on the recent legal developments.