Culpable Homicide & Murder – Complete Analysis

Homicide:

The word Homicide means “killing of a human being by a human being”.
It is either-
• Lawful homicide – like: section 76,77,78,79,80,81,82,83,etc of IPC
• Unlawful homicide – like: Culpable homicide(section 299) , Murder(section 300), Rash or negligent act(section 304-A), Dowry death(section 304-B), etc

CULPABLE HOMICIDE – Section 299

Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing such bodily Injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.

Illustration
• A lays sticks and turf over a pit, with the intention of thereby causing death, or with the knowledge, that death is likely to be thereby caused. B believing the ground to be firm, treads on it, falls in and is killed. A has committed the offence of culpable homicide.

• A knows C to be behind a bush. B does not know it. A intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely to cause C’s death, induces B to fire at the bush. B fires and kills C. Here B may be guilty of no offence but A has committed, the offence of culpable homicide.

Essential Ingredients of Section 299

• There must be death of a person.
• The death should have been caused by the act of some another person.
• The act causing the death of a person should have been done :
          With the intention of causing death; or
          With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death; or
          With knowledge that such act is likely to cause death.

Explanation 1 – A person who causes bodily injury to another who is labouring under a disorder, disease or bodily infirmity and thereby accelerates the death of that other person, shall be Deemed to have caused his death.

Explanation 2 – Where Death of a person is caused by bodily injury, the person who causes such bodily injury shall be Deemed to have caused his death although by resorting to proper remedies and skillful treatment the death might have been prevented.

  • “Explanation 2 provides for a situation where a person who has been injured could have recovered and escaped death if he had been given prompt and proper medical treatment.”

R vs. blaue 1975 AER
Blaue attacked a girl with a knife causing a serious stab wound which pierced her lungs necessitating surgery. The girl was a Jehovah’s witnesses and steadfastly refused to have a blood transfusions which was necessary before the operation could take place on the ground that it was contrary to her religious beliefs, despite being told that she would die otherwise. She died the next day.
Blaue was convicted of manslaughter.

LAWTON L.J Quoted, “If the second cause is so overwhelming as to make the original wound merely part of the history, then it can be said that the death does not flow from the wound and the second cause is the ‘CAUSA-CAUSANS’ i.e. Most primary cause.

• So through this renowed case, it is clear that no accused can save himself by saying that the actual reason of death of the victim was lack of medical facility/ treatment but this depends on facts of each case.

Rewa ram VS. State of Madhyapradesh 1978 M.P
In this case the Madhya Pradesh High court placing Reliance on explanation 2 of section 299 said that if supervening causes are attributed to injuries caused, then the person inflicting injuries will be liable to cause death, even if death was not the direct result of injuries.

{Facts- In this case there was a medical evidence to show that the high temperature was the result of her weak condition.She fell into weak condition due to multiple injuries, which she had sustained during the operation. So her death was a direct consequence of injuries inflicted on her.}

 

Explanation 3- The causing of the death of a child in the Mother’s Womb is not homicide.
But it may amounts to culpable homicide to cause the death of a living child, if any part of that child has been brought forth, though the child may not have breathed or been completely born.

 

MURDER – Section 300

Other than exceptions provided here, culpable homicide is murder –

1. If the act by which death is cause is done with the intention of causing death.

2. If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom such harm is caused.

3. If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.

4. If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability causes death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.

Illustration
1. A shoot Z with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence. A commits murder.

2. A intentionally gives Z a sword cut sufficient to cause the death of a man in the ordinary course of nature. Z dies in consequence. Here A is guilty of murder, although he may not have intended to cause such death.

3. A without any excuse fires a loaded cannon into a crowd of persons and kills one of them. here A is guilty of murder, although he may not have had a premeditated design to kill any individual of such crowd.

Distinguish between Culpable homicide & Murder

  • There is a minute difference between the two and the difference actually lies in the facts and circumstances of each case.
  • This table given below will help you to find actually the similarity and also the difference between the two in a more clear way.👇
                        Culpable homicide                                Murder
  • A person commits culpable homicide, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the –

1.   Intention of causing death.

2.   Intention of causing such bodily injury, likely to cause death.

3.   Knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.

 

 

 

  • Subject to certain exceptions, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which death is caused is done with the –

1.   Intention of causing death.

2.   Intention of causing such bodily injury, likely to cause death.

3.   Intention of causing bodily injury Sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.

4.   Knowledge that the act is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death.

“The above two points of the table describes the similarity between culpable homicide & murder while the remaining points tries to clear the minute difference between them.”

 

Inder singh bagga Vs. State of Pepsu 1955 SC
Facts –
• The accused gaves 6 blows with a lathi stick on the head of the deceased.
• One of the blows fractured the skull
• The injury which broke the skull had causes depression on the brain.
• Death was due to brain hemorrhage
• The deceased die 3 weeks after the incident.
• The deceased was a strongly build young man.

The Supreme Court held –
• The blows were inflicted on the head of the deceased by force.
• The weapon used was lathi & not iron rod.
• The deceased was young & Strongly build man.
• The deceased survives for three weeks.
Keeping all these factors into consideration, the accused should be book on Culpable homicide not amounting to murder u/s 304 & not murder.

 

Rajwant Singh vs. State of kerela 1966 SC 1874
The Supreme Court held that, what distinguishes between murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder is the presence of a Special mens rea which consists of four mental attitudes and the presence of any one of which distinguishes murder from culpable homicide. Those four mental attitudes are stated in the four clauses of section 300.

• According to SIR JAMES STEPHEN, the definition of culpable homicide and murder are the weakest part of the code, as they are defined in forms closely resembling with each other and at times it becomes difficult to distinguish between the two as the “Causing of death” is common to both.
• The true difference lies in the, “Degree of gravity”.

 

When Culpable Homicide is not Murder ( Also called exceptions of section 300)

Exception 1 Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender whilst deprived of his power of self control by Grave and sudden provocation causes death of the person who gave such provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident.
Provided;
1. That the provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.
2. That the provocation is not given by anything done in obedience to the law or by any public servant in the lawful exercise of his powers.
3. That the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence.

Whether the provocation given was Grave and sudden enough to prevent the offence from amounting to murder is a question of fact.

Illustration

  1. A under the influence of passion excited by provocation given by Z intentionally kills Y, Z’s child. This is murder because the provocation was not given by the child and the death of the child was not caused by accident.
  2. Y gives Grave and sudden provocation to A. A on this provocation fires a pistol at Y. Neither intending not knowing himself to be likely to kill Z, who is near him, but out of Sight. A kills Z. Here A has not committed the offence of murder but merely culpable homicide.

Exception 2 – Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender in good faith of the right of private defence of person or property exceeds the power given to him by law and causes the death of the person against whom he is exercising such right of Defence without premeditation and without any intention of doing comparably more harm.

Illustration

  • Z attempts to horsewhip (कोड़े मारना) A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt to A. A draws out pistol from his pocket, Z persists in the assault. A believing in good faith that he can by no other means prevent himself from being horsewhipped, shoots Z dead. A has not committed murder of Z, but only culpable homicide.

Exception 3 – Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender being a public servant or aiding a public servant acting for the advancement of public justice, exceeds the power given to him by law and causes death by doing the act but without ill-will towards the person whose death is so caused.

Exception 4 – Culpable homicide is not Murder if such act is committed without premeditation & in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
• It is immaterial that which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault.

Case law:

Rajendra Singh vs State of Bihar AIR 2000 SC
The necessary ingredients of exception 4 to section 300 are :
a) A sudden fight;
b) Absence of pre-meditation;
c) No undue advantage or cruelty;
d) Occasion must be sudden and not as a cloak for pre-existing malice.

 

Exception 5 – Culpable homicide is not murder if the person whose death is caused being above the age of 18 years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent.

Illustration

  • A, above 18 years of age gives his consent for performing a deadly stunt in a circus. If by performing such stunt, A dies then no one will be liable for that unless there is some mistake on others part too.

So by this we can conclude that “Every murder is culpable homicide but every Culpable homicide is not murder”.

What amounts to grave & sudden provocation?

The Supreme Court laid down postulates relating to grave & sudden provocation in the renowed case of,
K.M Nanavati VS. State of Maharashtra 1962 S.C as follows :

1. The test of Grave and sudden provocation is whether a reasonable man belonging to the same class of society as the accused placed in a situation in which the accused was placed, would be so provoked as to loose his self control.

2. In India, sometimes words and gestures may also under certain circumstances cause Grave and sudden provocation to an accused.

3. The mental background created by the previous act of the victim may be taken into consideration.

4. The Fatal blow should be clearly traced by the influence of passion arising from that provocation and not after the passion had cooled down by lapse of time.

Punishment for Murder – Section 302

Whoever commits murder shall be punished with

  • death or
  • imprisonment for life and
  • shall also be liable to fine.

• The offence under this section is Cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable & triable by Court of Session.

Is Recovery of dead body essential for conviction of murder?

In the case of Ram gulam choudhary vs. State of Bihar AIR 2001 SC,
The court held that “it is not at all necessary for a conviction for murder that corpus delicti be found. Undoubtedly, in the absence of the corpus delicti there must be direct or circumstantial evidence leading to the inescapable conclusion that the person has died & that the accused is the person who had committed the murder.”

Punishment for Culpable homicide not amounting to murder – Section 304

Any person who commits the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with –
• Imprisonment for life, or
• Imprisonment for a term which may extend to Ten years; and
• Also be liable to fine,

“If the act by which death is caused is done with Intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.”

&

• Maximum Imprisonment of upto Ten years ,or
• Fine , or
• Both ,

“If the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death of any person, but without any Intention to cause such death or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.”

{ The offence under this section is Cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable & triable by Court of Session.}


Also read :

Introduction to IPC

Intention, motive, etc – IPC

Theft & Extortion

Mistake of fact and Mistake of law

Dowry Death -Meaning,Legal Provisions,Essentials & Case Laws

Can we cause death of a person in Private Defence?

 

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