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Difference Between Murder And Culpable Homicide

We will be discussing culpable homicide and Murder , their distinction and the case law related to these two topic

Meaning of the term homicide:

killing of human being by a human being , it can of two type one is lawful homicide and other is criminal homicide, lawful commit a homicide it would be one under any of the general exception it can further be a excusable homicide , when the homicide is committed under necessity, accident or by mistake of fact .the justiciable homicide when we commit a homicide under the private defense it is called as justiciable homicide .these are lawful homicide.

Now we come to criminal homicide which is further divided into culpable homicide and murder. Culpable homicide is the genes and murder is one of the species meaning by the scope of culpable homicide is wider and murder has narrow . murder is included under culpable homicide.

Section 299:
whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention the of causing such bodily injury as likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.

The essential of section 299:

  • Causing death of human being
  • Such death must have been caused by doing an act
  • Act must have been done by: with the intention of causing death, with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, with the knowledge that the doer is likely by such act to cause death
  • Causation of death:
    there has to be relation between the act of the accused and death of the victim and death must be the result of physical conduct of the accused, causal connection has to be there .the distinct not too remote. We will understand it by case Joginder Singh v/s State Of Punjab, the deceased he is sister of accused , the deceased on seeing the accused approaching him started running in the field, the accused was following him. In order to safeguard himself the deceased jump into a well and he had a injury at his head and because of drowning he died, now the question aroused will the accused persons they caused the death or not? It was held at the time he jump into well he was very away from the accused, and he has other option as well has there ws no actual physical contact with the deceased so they were not held liable.

The other case Basappa & Others V State ,the deceased is attack by accused on the roof of building and accused give few cut with weapon , in order to save himself , the deceased jump from the roof and died. Here it was held the act of jumping was necessity and the deceased doesn�t have any other option left. So the action on the part of accused forced the deceased to jump and the accused were held liable.

By doing an act:
the word act include acts as a single act and series of act, fro ex the accused stab the victim and hang it by leg and due to loss of blood died. These act in altogether combined and caused the death. Act also include omission . in the case Re palani goundan , the accused hit on the head of his head and she felt on the floor and was unconscious , the accused thought she have died and in order to make a false suicide he hang her by a rope and actually she died due do strangulation.

It was held he was not guilty of culpable homicide as the act of giving a blow that he doesn�t have any intention or doesn�t have the knowledge and the second at done with different intention and held only for grievous hurt.

The second case Re Thavamani, in this case the accused assaulted a woman with a intention of causing a death but the act wasn�t sufficient and the woman felt unconscious , the accused believing her to be death he threw her in the well and she died due to water in the lung . here the accused was held liable for murder as the intention from the very beginning was killing of the woman and both the act is connected.

Act must have been done by:
With the intention of causing death � the person want to ensure that particular results follows. acting in such a manner death in caused in reality . for example intentional drowning a person, killing by poison, stabbing multiple times, pushing someone from height, shooting at point blank range on vital part of body, in all these the accused known the consequences.

3(b) with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.- here there is no requirement of intention of causing death, the injury which is caused by accused which is natural consequence of his act that is sufficient . the case Harjinder Singh v/s Delhi Administration the accused he was trying to assault one person and the deceased intervene, when the accused found himself against two people he took out the knife and stab and damage the blood vessel the deceased and due to lose of blood and died at that point. the accused cannot take the benefit that he doesn�t have the intention to stab at that point , and the accused will be held liable as the natural consequences of the act of accused , the stabbing act was intentional so all the act will be considered intention.

To decide whether bodily injury is likely to cause death or not three thing are to be seen: part of body where injury has been caused; nature of injury; nature of weapon.
3 (c) with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offences of the offence of culpable homicide . fro example one person s chasing the other with a bow and arrow and the distance between them was 80m , he shoot the arrow and hit the neck of the person who is ahead him, there was for sure has a knowledge that his act.


Section 300 � except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused.
  • Firstly is done with the intention of causing death, or
  • 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 , - the accused knows if a small injury will be inflicted on affected part of body of victim ,swollen appendix , the accused must have the subjective knowledge of specific situation or health condition of victim.
  • Thirdly- if I is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted in sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death,
    the case virsa singh v state of Punjab,the accused thrust a spear on the abdomen of the deceased and there was only one injury , but the injury was to the hole thickness of abdominal wall , the intestine was coming out the doctor said that the injury was sufficient to cause death in ordinary situation, the contention made by accused is the prosecution is not able to prove the intention to cause such a bodily injury to cause murder, it was argued that the intention must be proved that such bodily injury in intended to be there.

    To better understand this clause 3 is divided into 2 part first intentionally causing that particular injury which is subjective in nature, the second part is in objective in sense , bodily injury is sufficient In the ordinary course of nature to cause death, looking at the injury intended to cause the court must be satisfied that it must be sufficient in ordinary course . it�s a matter of inference or deduction from the particular of injury . by looking and analyzing the clause 3 the court reject the contention made by accused. And it was led down that the prosecution must prove 4 things, first the bodily injury is present. Second the nature of the injury must be proved .thirdly it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury , lastly , of the consideration is must be proved that the injury of the type and it is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.
  • 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.

The essential ingredient of this clause is:

  1. The act must be imminently dangerous
    • The person committing the act must have knowledge that it is so imminently dangerous
    • That in all probability it will cause death or such bodily injury as likely to cause death
    • Such imminently dangerous act should be done without any reason or justification for running the risk of causing death or such injury. When act done in recklessness and in negligence, it doesn�t target to one particular person but life of many people are under the danger, and the accused is well aware of the fact that his act put life of many people at risk. For example firing a loaded gun at crowded place.

In the case state of AP v. R. punnayya

There were accused who followed the deceased in a bus the deceased got down ,they also get down with intention of beating up they took certain rod the deceased was very senior and inspite of repeatedly request not to beat him, though all of them together as a group give a nice beating and several bone get fractured , internal injury and last the deceased died at the spot, the doctor said the injury was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.

The question arose that the act done by accused were not intentional and they have not hit him toward a particular vital organ if body , so will murder or culpable homicide which one will be applicable supreme court held that and gave a guideline to distinguish between these two offences . the apex court observed that whenever a court is confronted with the question whether the offence is murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder. It will be approached the problem in three stages. These are:
  1. The question to be considered at the first state would be, whether the accused has done an act by doing which he has caused the death of another. Proof of such causal connection between the act of the accused and the death.
  2. Whether the act of accused fulfilled either of the clauses of section 299
  3. Once we are done with the 2nd rule and had the certainty that it is covered n one of the clauses of section 299 then we moved to 3rd stage , where the court tries to determine can the case be brought within any clauses of section 300. Then it will be come under murder and will held that the accused will be liable of murder.
This is how we navigate from section 299 to 300 and come to the conclusion whether the act come under murder or is culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Made by: Nihal Singh (BBA LLB)

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