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
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
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 Bs 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Written By: Avhirup Kumar Ghosh
- J. Tarunika and K. Ojha, International Journal of Pure and Applied
- 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.
- The Indian Penal Code, 5th edition, Prof. T. Bhattacharya
- Milmadhub Sirchar Vs. R (1885)
- Sheik Choollye Vs. R (1865)
- The Indian Penal Code, 14th edition, Surya Narayan Mishra & Sanjay
- Presidency University, Bangalore