Murder and Culpable Homicide – Complete Explanation IPC

Written by: Urvi Malhotra and Nipun Kalra

CULPABLE HOMICIDE AND MURDER

WHAT IS CULPABLE HOMICIDE?

Culpable Homicide comes under section 299 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death or with the intention of causing such bodily injury which 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.

ESSENTIALS OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE:

  1.  There must be intention of causing death of the person.
  2.  The accused must have intention that such bodily injury is likely to cause death to whom the harm has been made.
  3.  The accused must have knowledge that such an act would likely to be cause death.

EXPLANATIONS –

  1.  A person who causes bodily injury to the other person who is suffering from a disease or disorder and thereby accelerates the death of the person shall be deemed to have caused his death.
  •  Where death is caused by such bodily harm, the person shall be deemed to have caused death, although proper remedies and treatments are provided.
  •  If the death of the child is caused in mother’s womb then it will not amount to culpable homicide, until and unless any body part of the baby is out of the womb and only then death will amount to culpable homicide.

PUNISHMENT FOR CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER

  1. Punishment of culpable homicide not amounting to murder is provided under sec 304 of IPC. It states that, whoever causes death with intention or causes such bodily injury as is likely to cause death or with the knowledge that death is likely to be caused because of the act, shall be liable for life imprisonment or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. 
  2. Secondly, whoever causes death without the intention of causing death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death or doesn’t have the knowledge that his act could cause death shall be sentenced to imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
  3. If the act which causes death is done without the intention of causing death but with the knowledge that death is likely to be caused by such act, the person shall be sentenced to imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

CASE LAWS RELATED TO CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER

  1. “Culpable homicide” is the genus, and “murder” is the species. All “murder” are culpable homicide but not vice-versa; Narasingh Challan v. State of Orissa, (1997) 2 Crimes 78 (Ori).
  2. Virsa Singh vs State of Punjab (AIR 1958 SC 465): In this case, the Supreme Court held that there must be a direct consequence of the injuries inflicted on the deceased. Therefore, intervening causes must not be independent or unconnected with the injury sustained by the deceased.
  3. Joginder Singh vs State of Punjab (AIR 1979 SC 1876): The Supreme Court held that there has to be a proximate causal link between the two, i.e. death and the act. The death must be a direct consequence of such an act.

EXCEPTIONS TO CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER

  • Culpable homicide does not amount to murder in case of grave and sudden provocation, the sudden provocation should come from the other side.
  • Culpable homicide does not amount to murder in cases when a person exceeds his power given by law in order to protect himself or his property in good faith in the right of private defence and without any intention of doing more harm than is necessary.
  • Culpable homicide does not amount to murder if a public servant or a person aiding a public servant exceeds his power given to him by law in order to attain public justice, believing that he is doing a lawful act and in a good faith.
  • Culpable homicide does not amount to murder when there is a sudden fight and there is no premeditation or intention to cause bodily injury which may lead to death.

CULPABLE HOMICIDE AMOUNTING TO MURDER

  1. Under Section 300 of IPC, except in the cases hereinafter, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or- 
  2. Secondly– 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 the harm is caused, or-
  3. Thirdly– 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, or-
  4. Fourthly– If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause 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.

ESSENTIALS OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE AMOUNTING TO MURDER

  • There must be an intention to cause the death of the person.
  • There must be an act or harm caused or cause such bodily injury that is likely to cause the death.
  • The act must be done with the sufficient knowledge that the act of one is likely to cause the death of another person.

PUNISHMENT FOR CULPABLE HOMICIDE AMOUNTING TO MURDER

Punishment for culpable homicide amounting to murder is stated under section 302 of IPC. This section provides punishment for murder which means the person who has committed murder or culpable homicide amounting to murder shall be liable for either life imprisonment or death penalty and he/she shall also be liable to pay fine.

Death penalty provided under this section is only given under rarest of rare cases.

CASE LAWS RELATED TO CULPABLE HOMICIDE AMOUNTING TO MURDER

In the case of Machhi Singh And Others v. State Of Punjab, the Indian Judiciary stated the grounds on which death penalties were, they are as follows:

  1. When the murder committed is extremely brutal, ridiculous, diabolical, revolting, or reprehensible manner which awakens intense and extreme indignation of the community. For instance, setting someone’s house on fire with the intention to burn them alive;
  2. The magnitude of the crime is at a large scale which means causing multiple deaths;
  3. When death is caused because of the caste and creed of the person;
  4. When the motives of the accused were cruelty or total depravity; and
  5. When the murder victim is an innocent child, a helpless woman or person (due to old age or infirmity), a public figure, etc.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CULPABLE HOMICIDE AND MURDER

A common line phrase that differentiates between culpable homicide and murder is that “All murders are culpable homicide but not all culpable homicides are murders”. We can understand this by saying that Culpable homicide is the “genus” and murder is the “species”. We can also say that murder is more aggravated form of culpable homicide.

There is a thin line of difference between culpable homicide and murder which is “degree of intention”.

In culpable homicide the degree of intention is less, there is no intention to kill the person but in murder the degree of intention is more and there is intention to kill the person, the accused is for sure that his act will definitely cause death.

It is extremely difficult to distinguish between culpable homicide and murder as the end result for both of them is death. But there is a presence of difference of intention and knowledge and it is involved in both the crimes. The actual difference lies in the degree of intention and knowledge between both the crimes.

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