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Difference Between Culpable Homicide Not Amounting To Murder And Culpable Homicide Amounting To Murder

The word homicide is derived from Latin where homo means man and cida means killing. Thus, homicide means the killing of a man by a man, whereas culpable refers to the sufficiently responsible for criminal acts. Therefore together culpable + homicide refers to one (man) who is worthy of the blame for killing of man. Culpable homicide is punishable by law.

Culpable homicide further divided into two categories:

  1. Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder (Section 299 IPC)
  2. Culpable homicide amounting to murder (Section 300 IPC).

In recent case Rampal Singh vs State Of U.P on 24 July, 2012: it was held that section 299 of IPC is the genus and Section 300 of IPC is the species. Therefore it can be summed up that all ‘murders’ are ‘culpable homicides’ but all ‘culpable homicides’ are not murders.

Culpable homicide presupposes an intension or knowledge of likelihood, of causing death. In absence of such intention or knowledge even if the death is caused, the offences may be of hurt or grievous hurt.

Section 299: Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder:

Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or 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.

There are three conditions which attracts S.299:

  • There should be an intention to cause death or
  • Causing such bodily injury which is likely to cause death or
  • Causing death by action, which is in his knowledge likely to cause death

Illustration
X induces Y to put the fire at the place having the knowledge that Z was sitting behind a covered area. Here, X is liable for the offence of culpable homicide, as he had prior knowledge that Z was present in that area and his actions will lead to Z’s death. Here, intention makes X liable to culpable homicide.

A knows Z to be behind a bush. B does not know it A, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely to cause Z’s death, induces B to fire at the bus. B fires and kills Z. Here B may be guilty of on offence, but A has committed the offence of culpable homicide.

Cases:
  • In the case of Reg. v. Govinda, 1876 the accused had knocked down his wife, kept a knee on her chest and gave two to three violent blows with the closed fist on her face. This act produced extraversion of blood on her brain and afterwards, the wife died due to this. The act was not committed with the intention of causing death and the bodily injury was not sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. The accused was liable to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
     
  • In the case of Jalluddin 1982 CR. L.J An Ojha (tantric) had beaten a girl to remove her off the ill effects of ghosts, however, she died here the Ojha was guilty of culpable homicide.
     
  • In the case of Kusa Majhi v/s State of Orissa 1985 Cr.LJ 1460 the deceased warned her son for not going fishing with others. The son got angry, brought an axe and gave blows on her shoulder after which she died. The blows were in fit of moment and anger and was no pre plan of the offence. Therefore, it was held to be a case of culpable homicide as the blows were likely to cause bodily injury which then caused death

S.300: Culpable Homicide amounting to Murder

Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder:
  1. if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
  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 the harm is caused, or
  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, or
  4. 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.

To attract S.300 the conditions are as follow:
  • The act is committed with an intention to cause death.
  • The act is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury for which the offender has knowledge that it would result in death.
  • The person has the knowledge that his act is dangerous and would cause death or bodily injury but still commits the act, this would amount to murder.

Illustrations:
  • A shoots Z with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence, A commits murder.
  • D intentionally gives a sword-cut to R that was sufficient to cause the death of anyone in the ordinary course of nature. As a consequence, R dies. Here, D is guilty of murder though he didn’t intend to cause R’s death.
  • A, knowing that Z is labouring under such a disease that a blow is likely to cause his death, strikes him with the intention of causing bodily injury. Z dies in consequence of the blow. A is guilty of murder

Cases:
Subedar Tiwari v/s State Of Uttar Pradesh A.I.R 1989 S.C. A woman was killed and the husband and his sister were persecuted. The facts of the case were that – one morning when the milkman came and called- then the door was opened then- the woman was found burned in the kitchen and the evidence was that the husband neither entered the kitchen nor he tried to be flame his wife. In the kitchen an unused stove was found, however, there were no match sticks. The woman was lying in the same position though huge flames were seen. On the body of the victim, there were three injury marks, and around her, there were some letters, which she had written to her father. Thus, it was concluded that it is not a case of suicide, but a case of murder.

Distinctions Between Sections 299 And 300 Of IPC, 1860
Understanding the difference between them as a real yet thin line of difference exists. The most confusing aspect between the two is that of intention of the offender as it is to cause death under both the provisions. Thus, the degree of intention of the offenders is to be considered.

There are certain ways to differentiate between these two concepts and it is latent with the term seriousness of intention. The word likely is used in Section 299 which states one of the probabilities which amount to culpable homicide but the word sufficient is used in Section 300 which denotes most probably. Subsequently, another difference can be that of the chance of death wherein it is high in case of murder and less under culpable homicide. Another difference is of mens rea where it is involved with a difference of degree in both the offences.

Exceptions To Section 300 Of IPC Where Culpable Homicide Is Not Considered As Murder:

Sudden And Grave Provocation
If the offender is deprived of the power of self-control due to sudden and grave provocation, and his act causes the death of the person who provoked or death of any other person by accident or mistake.

This exception is subject to a certain proviso:
  • That the provocation is not sought or is voluntarily provoked by the offender to be used as an excuse for killing or causing any harm to the person.
  • That the provocation is not given by anything that is done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant while exercising the powers lawfully of a public servant.
  • That the provocation is not done while doing any lawful exercise of the right of private defence.

Illustration:
  • A is given grave and sudden provocation by C. A fires at C as a result of this provocation. A didn’t intend or have knowledge that his act is likely to kill C, who was out of A’s sight. A kills C. A is not liable to murder but is liable to culpable homicide.
  • A was provoked by B on 6th of May. A on 7th May, killed B. A is liable for murder.

Cases:
  1. K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra, 1961
    In this case, the Supreme Court had extensively explained the law relating to provocation in India. It was observed by the Court:
    · The test of sudden and grave provocation is whether a reasonable man, who belongs to the same society as the accused, is placed in the situation in which the accused was placed would have been so provoked as to lose his self-control.
    • Under certain circumstances, words and gestures may also lead to sudden and grave provocation to an accused, so as to bring his act under an exception.
    • The mental background of the victim can be taken into consideration, taking account of his previous act to ascertain whether the subsequent act leads to sudden and grave provocation for committing the offence.
    • The fatal blow clearly should trace the influence of passion that arises from the sudden and grave provocation. It should not be after the provocation has been cooled down due to lapse of time, otherwise, it will give room and scope to the accused for altering the evidence.
       
  2. In, Ajeet Singh v/s State Of Punjab A.I.R. 1991 S.C. In the case, the accused had seen his wife with his neighbour in a compromising position, and he immediately shot the neighbour.

When The Person Exceeds His Right To Private Defense

Act of private defence can said to have been exercised, when the act is committed in order to defend oneself from further harm. If the accused intentionally exceeds his right to private defense, then he is liable to murder. If it is unintentional, then the accused will be liable to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Illustration:
Z attempts to horsewhip A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt to A. A draws out a pistol. Z persists in the assault A believing in good faith that he can by no other means prevent himself from being hers whipped, shoots Z dead. A has not committed murder but an only culpable homicide.

Cases:
Bhagwaan Swaroop v/s Madhya Pradesh State The accused had shot dead the person. The humble Supreme Court had held that case is covered under sec 300(2) because the accused had opened fire to save his father who was being attacked by sticks and in order to save his father the accused had opened fire.

Public Servant Exceeding His Powers

The act is done by a public servant who is acting to promote public justice. If the public servant commits an act which is necessary to discharge his duty as is done in good faith and he believes it to be lawful.
Illustration:
If the police officer goes to arrest a person, the person tries to run away and during that incident, if the police officer shoots the person, the police officer will not be guilty of murder.

Sudden Fight/Rage

The sudden fight is when the fight is unexpected or premeditated. Both the parties don't have any intention to kill or cause the death of another. The fact that which party had assaulted or offered a provocation first is not important.

Consent

when the person whose death is caused, being above the age of eighteen years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent.

Illustration
  • A instigated F who was under 18 years of age, to commit suicide. F was incapable of giving consent to his own death. Therefore, A is guilty of murder.

Punishment:

Punishment For Culpable Homicide - Section 304, IPC

Culpable homicide is not murder if it falls under any one of the five exceptions given under Section 300. For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Section 304 of IPC describes the punishments as:
  • Imprisonment for life or
  • Imprisonment for either description of a term extending up to ten years and/or
  • Fine

Punishment For Culpable Homicide - Section 304, IPC

Culpable homicide is not murder if it falls under any one of the five exceptions given under Section 300. For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Section 304 of IPC describes the punishments as:
  • Imprisonment for life or
  • Imprisonment for either description of a term extending up to ten years and/or
  • Fine.

Punishment For Murder - Section 302, IPC

  • Whoever commits murder shall be punishable with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

Conclusion
As discussed above, there is a thin line between Murder and Culpable Homicide. The courts have time and again taken efforts to differentiate between the two offences the end result of the two being same, intention behind the offence being the important factor of consideration. The entire case of the prosecution can be based on a single point i.e. intention and in the same way the entire case of the prosecution can be destroyed by the defence by proving no intention.

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