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An Analysis Of Culpable Homicide And Murder

All Crimes always includes two elements men's rea and actus reus, if any of them is absent in a particular crime then that act will not come under the ambit of Crime. In committing any act of actual body harm, the Mensrea might be one of recklessness (without regard to danger or consequence of one's action) rather than intention.

We are discussing the two most significant subjects of the Indian Penal Code that are most severe, it is required to know their definitions as more often they appear to be more similar to each other, yet, they are not the same to one another, and they are Culpable Homicide and Murder.

The term Culpable Homicide and Murder are the two most difficult and confusing terms in every Law Student life which is defined under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. There is a very thin line difference between the two terms. Culpable Homicide m is the genus and murder is the species. The essential contrast between these two offenses lies in the gravity with which the offense has been executed.

Culpable Homicide (Section 299)

The word Homicide has been rooted in the Latin expressions homi means man and cido means Cut or kill. Accordingly, homicide signifies the slaughtering or killing of an individual by another human. Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code characterizes Culpable Homicide as:
"Whoever causes death by doing an act to cause death, or with the knowledge of causing such bodily injury as is probably cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offense of Culpable Homicide."

Culpable homicide when practiced under the influence of general exceptions as mentioned under Section 76 to 100 of the Indian Penal Code is Lawful Homicide.

Ingredients Of Culpable Homicide

  • Causing the death of an individual.
  • Death must have been brought about by such an act
  • The Act must have been done
  • With the goal or intention of causing death or
  • To cause such bodily injury as it probably causes death or
  • With the knowledge that such an act of the doer is probably going to cause the death of the injured individual.

In some cases, Gross Negligence amounts to knowledge. Where an individual acts so that he is irresponsible towards taking vital necessary care and caution then it shall be presumed that he knows the consequences of his act. The knowledge must be conferred from the surrounding facts and conduct of the accused. It is to be noticed that death must be the result of the grossly careless act to attract Section 299.

Culpable Homicide can be legal or illegal. Culpable Homicide is punishable by law and is additionally divided into two classifications:
  1. Homicide amounting to Murder
  2. Homicide not amounting to murder.

Punishment Of Culpable Homicide (Section 304)

Culpable Homicide is not considered as murder if it falls under any of the 5 exceptions to Section 300. Section 304, defines the punishment for Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder as either imprisonment for life or imprisonment for up to 10 years and fine.

Murder (Section 300)

Murder is the Aggravated form of Culpable Homicide. Murder incorporates Culpable Homicide but, culpable homicide does exclude murder in all cases. For a culpable homicide to amount to murder it should come under the four clauses which are mentioned under Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code which is as follows:

Except for the cases here excepted, Culpable Homicide is murder if the Act by which the death is caused is done to cause death, or-

If it is done with the goal or intention of causing such bodily injury as the wrongdoer knows to probably cause the death of the individual to whom the harm is caused, or�

If it is done with the goal or intention of causing bodily injury to any individual and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is adequate in the standard course of nature to cause death, or�

If the individual who is committing the act to know or have knowledge that it is so imminently hazardous that it must cause death or such bodily injury as is probably going to cause death, and commits such act with no reason for incurring the danger of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.

Ingredients Of Murder

  • There should be an intention to cause the death of another person
  • There should be an intention to cause bodily injury that is likely to cause death.
  • The act must be done with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause the death of the individual.

Exceptions To Section 300 Of Indian Penal Code 1860

  1. Grave and Sudden Provocation:
    There must be a case of the grave and sudden provocation to take the plea of exception to Section 300. Notwithstanding, it must be noticed that this provocation should not be initiated from the accused side.
  2. Self Defense:
    An individual who is claiming this exception should have exceeded his right to self-defense of a person or property, provided he had exercised the right with bona fide intention. But the injury inflicted must be in proportion to the attack of the deceased. The Right of Self Defense cannot be exercised to do away with a wrongdoer unless the individual concerned has a reasonable cause to fear death or grievous hurt then that person would have the right to private defense.

    In the case of Prasad Swanker v. Ranjit Kumar, it was a case of Murder wherein the plea of right to self-defense was raised protection was raised. A cross version of dacoity by the deceased was held to be credible. Recoveries from the place of occurrence, non-clarification of the injuries to the accused, made the cross versions to be discovered probable. The reversal of conviction was affirmed.
  3. Act of Public Servant:
    1. The offense must be committed by a public servant or by an individual helping a Public Servant.
    2. The Act alleged must have been committed by the Public Servant in the discharge of his official obligations.
    3. He should have exceeded the powers given to him by the Law
    4. The Act must be done with due care and attention.
    5. The Public Servant must have believed that the act was legal; itlegal it was necessary for discharging his obligations.
    6. He must not have borne any bad intention towards the individual whose death was caused.
    In Subha Naik v. R[13], a constable caused death under orders of a superior, it is discovered that neither he nor his higher authorities accepted that it was essential for public security to disperse certain group by firing on the group, it was held that he was liable for murder since he was not ensured in that he complied with the orders of his higher authorities
  4. Without Premeditation:
    To avail the assurance of this exception the accused must prove to the court that the battle between the accused and deceased was not pre-planned but broke out suddenly. The Apex court in Surendar Kumar v. Union Territory of Chandigarh[14]summarized the standards as follows:

    To bring forth this exception four prerequisites must be satisfied:
    1. It was an unexpected fight
    2. There was no Premeditation
    3. The particular act was done in a heat of passion and
    4. The attacker had not taken any undue advantage or acted cruelly.
    The reason for the fight is not applicable nor is it significant who offered the incitement or began the attack. The number of injuries caused during the fight is certainly not a conclusive factor yet what is significant is the event probably been unexpected and not premeditated, and the guilty party more likely than not acted furiously.

    The wrongdoer must not have taken any undue advantage or acted cruelly. Where, in a sudden fight, an individual without giving it much thought gets a weapon which is convenient and causes injuries, one of which acts deadly, he would be qualified to take help from this Exception provided that he has not acted cruelly.
  5. Consensual Homicide:
    As per Exception 5 of Section 300, culpable homicide isn't murder when the individual whose death is caused being over the age of 18 years, suffers death or faces the risk of death with his assent.
The Points which are to be proved in the court of law are as follows:
  1. The death was caused by the assent or consent of the deceased
  2. The deceased was over 18 years old at that time
  3. That such assent or consent was free and intentional and not given through fear or misinterpretation of facts.

The Apex court in Vijay aliyas Gyan Chand Jain v. the State of MP held It might be noticed that the exception 5 to Section 300 must get a severe and not a literal translation and in applying the exception the act alleged to agree to or approved by the victim must be considered with the close investigation.

Punishment Of Murder (Section 302)

Punishment for Murder is Death or Imprisonment for Life and the individual committing murder shall also be liable to fine.

The Rarest Of Rare Case

In Bachan Singh v. the State of Punjab (1980) (2 SCC 684) which restricts the vast discretion of the court in forcing capital punishment or death penalty. Death as the highest punishment was taken out from being a general rule to being granted only in exceptional situations, and that too after the recording of the special reason for such death penalty which cannot be reverted under any situation after its execution.

The expression Rarest of the Rare Case stays to be characterized while the concern for human life, the standards of a cultivated society and the need to change the criminal have connected with the consideration of the courts. The sentence of death must be based on the action of the criminal rather than the crime which was committed. The Doctrine of proportionality of sentence of the crime, the victim, and the accused has been the biggest concern of the Courts.

Difference Between Murder And Culpable Homicide.

The differentiation between the two Culpable Homicide and Murder was set up by Sankara J in State of A.P. v. R. Punnayya 1976) In the plan of the Penal Code, Culpable Homicide is a genus and murder its specie. All cases of murder are covered under Culpable Homicide but in all cases of culpable homicide do not come under murder. A special feature of murder is a culpable homicide which does not amount to murder. To determine the punishment in the proportion to the seriousness of this generic offense, the IPC perceives three degrees of culpable homicide.

The first is known as Culpable Homicide of first degree, and this is the most serious or dangerous form of culpable homicide which is characterized in Section 300 as "murder." The 2nd is Culpable Homicide of 2nd degree which is punishable under the first part of Section 304. Culpable homicide of 3rd degree is the lowest type of culpable homicide, and its punishment is also the lowest among the 3 degrees which are punishable under part 2 of Section 304.

According to Sir James Stephen Definition of Culpable Homicide and Murder which is given under sections, 299 and 300 are the weakest part of the Indian Penal Code as they are in close resemblance to each other, and it is very difficult to distinguish between the two as causing of death is present in both the Offenses. However, the difference between the two is quite read though very fine, and it is based upon a very subtle distinction of intention and knowledge involved in these offenses. The main difference lies in degree there being the greater intention or knowledge of the lethal consequences in the offense than the other one.

The Difference between Sections 299 and 300 was also cleared in Reg V. Govinda (1876). The accused had knocked down his wife by putting one knee on her chest and stuck her two to three violent blows on her face with a closed fist, and it produced extroversion of blood on the brain, and as a consequence, she died. There is no intention to cause death and bodily injury which was not sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. So the accused was held liable for Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder.
Culpable Homicide ( Section299) Murder (Section 300)
Culpable Homicide is the Genus. Murder is a Species.
There is some intention but not strong enough as it is evident in Murder. There is a strong intention to cause death as generally there shall be a plan to kill.
It is Less Serious as compared to the Murder. It is More Serious In Nature than Culpable Homicide. Aggravated form of Culpable Homicide.
Every Culpable Homicide is not Murder. Every Murder is primarily a Culpable Homicide.
Punishment is less than Murder. Punishment is more than Culpable Homicide.
Section 304 Para 1 Life Imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment and fine.
Para 2- 10 years Imprisonment or fine or both
Section 302 Death penalty or Life Imprisonment and fine.

There is a very thin line between the Murder and Culpable Homicide. The courts have from time to time taken efforts to differentiate both the offenses and intention is the important factor to determine the actual offense and consequences of both the offenses are the same. The Entire case of the Prosecution side can be destroyed by the defense by just proving no intention as the entire case of Prosecution is dependent on the Intention of the Accused.

In such circumstances, the role of appointed Judges increases as they only do the interpretation of the Law. An Appointed Judge while investigating such sensitive cases must investigate every possibility in breaking down all the subtleties of the case, and then come to any Judgment or Conclusion.

Thus, this is the most significant element of murder. Since there is no normal line contrast between them it will depend on from case to case, the appointed judge assumes the most critical function in such cases

As law can't stay static as it needs to get developed with changing time to cater to the needs of society, the disarray regarding these two ideas should be tended to now, and there is a need for a clear difference between them, likewise as previously mentioned here that the arrangements of one area functions as a classification of offense for different this makes a vagueness, there is a need to address this perspective also.

They should be improved to get in consonance with the present time and in present, it relies upon the discretion or investigation of the Judiciary to name the offense in situations where there is not appropriate proof or evidence are given by the council to prove the act in both of the offenses, we follow the rule of the check, and balance so no organ can abuse its power here, however, in rarest of rare cases it can be violated.

  1. P S A Pillai's Criminal Law, By KI Vibhute, 12th Edi, Second Reprint, 2015, Lexis Nexis Pub. P.569.
  2. Criminal Law Cases materials, K.D. Kaur, 18th EDI, 2015, Lexis Nexis Pub. P.389.
  3. Section 299, Indian Penal Code,1860 Act no 45 of 1860.
  4. Section 76 to 106 of the Indian Penal Code 1860. Act no 45 of 1860.
  5. Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 Act no 45 of 1860.
  6. Arun v. the State of Maharashtra (2012) 5 SCC 530.
  8. Prasad Swanker v. RanjitKumar(2015) 16 SCC 411.
  10. Subha Naik v. R (1898)21 Mad. 249.
  12. Surendar Kumar v. Union Territory, Chandigarh(1989) 2 SCC 217.
  14. Vijay Aliyas Gyan Chand Jain v. State of MP 1994) 6 SCC 308.
  16. Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980) (2 SCC 684)
  18. State of A.P. v. R. Punnayya (1976) 4 SCC 382.
Written By Gaurav Purohit

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