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A Comparative Study On Murder And Culpable Homicide

Section 299 of the IPC and Section 300 of the IPC deals with the concepts of culpable homicide that does not amount to murder. Both mean to harm a person but there are certain things that make Murder differs from Culpable Homicide. Hence, the problem rises here in the fact that both Murder, as well as Culpable Homicide, are concepts that relate to harming a person but the difference shall be decided on the basis of final outcome of a certain act.

Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code deals with punishment for Murder where the convict of a Murder is punished with death or imprisonment of life and shall also be liable to a fine. Murder is a cognizable offense and it is non-bailable. And Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code says about punishment for Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder.

Where punishment for Culpable Homicide is imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a period of 10 years and shall also be liable to fine. Culpable homicide is also a cognizable offense and it is a non-bailable offense as well.[1]

Here is the scene: 'A' and 'B' are fighting in a public place, both of them are well-built, both of them look very angered and furious. Looking at their anger, none from the public tried to interfere between them. Now that 'A' observes a truth, below which there is a toolbox. He rushes and opens the toolbox and then finds a hammer, he takes the hammer and hard hits on B's head, a lot of bleeding, and then finally 'B' dies. Now for everyone else there, it is a murder; 'A' has murdered 'B', but for a law student or lawyer, if anyone there, they will immediately start thinking whether it is a Culpable Homicide or Murder, is it Section 299 or Section 300, is it 10 years imprisonment or death or life imprisonment. All these questions will come�

Here in this article, the author will be discussing Chapter 16 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), which discusses offenses against the human body. The two most important sections from this chapter are Section 299 and Section 300. One of the most common statements among the legal fraternity is that everyone must have heard is, that every murder is a Culpable Homicide but not every Culpable Homicide is murder. How is that possible? We are going to understand that by the end of this article.

If a person kills another person or injured a person to an extent which he is aware that such injury will result in the death of that particular person, now he has done that act intentionally, so here there is both Mens-Rea as well as Actus-Reus. Now sometimes it is treated as Culpable Homicide and sometimes as Murder, why so? To understand that, first, let us try to understand the meaning of Culpable Homicide and Murder.

Now what is the Mens-Rea required for a Culpable Homicide or a Murder, that should be the intention of causing death or causing such bodily injury, which he is aware that, that is going to cause death. Such intention should be there and Actus-Reus requires, causing death or causing such bodily injury which he is aware that, it is going to cause death.

One needs to have the intention to kill and he should do the act to kill, it may not be done by him alone, he can either abet or he can use others also, but by doing anyway he knows that he is going to kill that person, in that case, it is considered as Culpable Homicide and then let's see how exactly it is getting converted to murder. To understand that, let us take the help of an illustration; imagine there is one husband and wife, Husband is Mr. 'A' and wife is Mrs. 'B', one day 'A' has gone to some work and when he came back his wife Mrs. 'B', was in an uncompromising position with a stranger. Now he gets very angry and he finds a rod and with that rod he stabs that stranger and kills him.

Now the stranger is dead, whether that is Culpable Homicide or Murder? Now the stranger was dead, that act is completed. 'A' had an intention to kill him and with his act, actually, he has killed him but how to decide whether it is a Culpable Homicide or Murder. As far as the ingredients are concerned, 'A' has fulfilled all the ingredients which are required under Section 299 as well as Section 300. Now he had an intention to kill and he has done such an act by which he was 100% sure that he is going to cause the death of that stranger.

Now stabbing by a rod, is definitely going to cause the death, so that way he was sure that his act was going to kill that stranger and he has completed all the ingredients under both Culpable Homicide, as well as Murder. Now to differentiate whether it is Culpable Homicide or Murder, at that particular point 'B' gets some exceptions which are coming to our help, which is discussed under Section 300, there are
  • If an action is done under grave and sudden provocation or exceeding the right of private defense or public servant exceeding his powers or sudden fight or death by consent, if any of such act is done than any of these circumstances, then they will be considered as Culpable Homicide only but not Murder.

Now let's discuss the two illustrations that were discussed till now. As mentioned, there were two guys who are fighting on the street. Now we don't know whether that fight is a result of grave and sudden provocation or a sudden fight. We don't know why that fight took place if it was a result of a grave and a sudden provocation all of a sudden, in that case, it will be Culpable Homicide only, that will not come under Murder, likewise in the case of 'A' and 'B', here when his wife was with a stranger, he got grave and sudden provocation and as a result of that, he killed him. So that way it is very clear that he has committed Culpable Homicide only.

He had no plans when he was out of the home, that he will come back and kill someone, he had nothing in his mind but when he came home, he got very angry and as a result of that he killed that person. Now if he leaves the stranger to go out and after sometimes if he goes out in search for him and kills him, in that case, it becomes a Murder, because it is after a break, when it comes to grave and sudden provocation it should happen in the scene itself, where you don't have the time to get cool, once after getting cool if you are doing then it comes under Murder, so it is a thin line between Culpable Homicide and Murder. One needs to be very careful and all courts will take sufficient care to decide whether a case is a Culpable Homicide or Murder.

For the first time the difference between Section 299 and Section 300 were discussed in the landmark case law, that his Reg Vs Govinda in the year 1876. A question here arises that why are people fighting for Culpable Homicide, but not for murder, because there is a big difference in the punishment pattern. Under Culpable Homicide, the maximum punishment can go up to life imprisonment or 10 years or fine or 10 years or life imprisonment, along with fine.

Whereas under Section 300, that is when it is proved that it is murder the punishment can be death punishment or life imprisonment along with a fine. Now that is the biggest thing that is why people always try to prove that it is culpable homicide, that is why people try to prove that the murder was not planned, it was just an accident, it was at that moment, it was the result of the heat of the moment, all those tough people try to prove and try to bring under Culpable Homicide.

Now whatever happened under the exceptions also is punishable but the punishment is less. There is also a person who has died so it is definitely a punishable offense under Section 299, but the punishment will go down based on the shreds of evidence that they are going to produce and how nicely they are convincing. So considering all that, people always try to convince on Section 299 and try avoiding Section 300.[2]

With reference to Section 299 of Indian Penal Code, there are certain essential ingredients of Culpable Homicide.

They are discussed as follows:
The intention of causing death - The Intention of causing death to a person by the act is the question of fact which involves the knowledge of the act in prior time of acting in such way which Showa up the willingness or the intention to cause such an impact on another person.

The intention of causing a bodily injury that likely to cause death � In order to prove that a crime amounts to Culpable Homicide the intention of the offender to cause the death of the victim was directly connected to the act performed by him.

The knowledge of the act which is likely to cause death � when an act is performed, the person who is performing the act is presumed to be aware of the result of such act done. But such awareness may not be taken as the intention to do a certain act which is an offense. This is the fact because intention and awareness of knowledge are two different concepts.[3]

The Difference Between Death Possibilities In Both These Concepts:

Every murder is committed after committing a Culpable Homicide but every Culpable Homicide does not amount to Murder. Murder is said to be an aggravated form of a Culpable Homicide. The existence of one of the ingredients of Section 300 of IPC turns the crime into a murder where the exceptions to murder turn the crime into a Culpable Homicide does not amount to Murder.

In both the concepts, there is an intention which is mens-rea involved, to kill a person. But whereas in certain case the offender will not be certain in death of the victim, in that case, the offense done by the offender is a Culpable homicide but when the offender has certainty in his actions will surely cause the death of the victim and this will fit into the definition of murder. Because the degree of probability of death is high in murder whereas, in Culpable Homicide the degree of death is low.

Case Laws:
In the case, Milmadhub Sirchar vs. R (1885), the deceased was kicked and beaten several times by the offender even after the victim falling senseless. In this case, the court held that the murderer would have known that beating and kicking several times would surely result in the death of such a person. Thus, he was accused of murder.[4]

In another case, Sheik Choollye vs. R (1865), a person got his head fractured after a man stuck his head with a stick while he was asleep. The court held that the offender should have known the likelihood of causing death to that person. And thus, he was convicted of murder.[5]

Suggestions And Conclusion:
Though both the concepts of murder and culpable homicide seem to be the same in certain sense they differ in the aspect of the degree of probability of death or it can be said as the seriousness of the act of the crime. If the act done by the offender is either a heinous crime or it is a very dangerous act that causes only death to a person, without any other result it would aptly fall under the concept of Murder and not Culpable homicide. If such an act by the offender leaves the victim to be alive with some grievous hurt with a chance of escaping death, then it is said to be a Culpable Homicide which does not amount to murder.[6]

  1. J. Tarunika and K. Ojha, International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics
  2. Dr.Lakshmi T and Rajeshkumar S In Vitro Evaluation of Anticariogenic Activity of Acacia Catechu against Selected Microbes, International Research Journal of Multidisciplinary Science & Technology, Volume No. 3 , Issue No. 3, P.No 20-25, March 2018.
  3. The Indian Penal Code, 5th edition, Prof. T. Bhattacharya
  4. Milmadhub Sirchar Vs. R (1885)
  5. Sheik Choollye Vs. R (1865)
  6. The Indian Penal Code, 14th edition, Surya Narayan Mishra & Sanjay Mishra.

  1. Culpable homicide versus Murder
  2. Difference Between Culpable Homicide Not Amounting To Murder And Culpable Homicide Amounting To Murder
Written By: Avhirup Kumar Ghosh - Presidency University, Bangalore

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