This article is written by Ritesha Das, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. This article points out the difference between Culpable homicide and Murder i.e. Section 299 and 300 of the IPC
Being a weapon of justice, Law is one of the crucial structures for governing society. The Indian legislature has continuously adopted numerous methods to effectively govern and regularize the society, taking account of the different factors such as languages, castes, demographics etc. Penal laws or the Indian Penal Code, 1872 (IPC) is the statute instituted by the State on its own behalf imposing restrictions and punishments on actions prohibited by the State. The sections under the Indian Penal Code, 1872 are comprehensive and interlinked with each other due to which it’s often difficult to comprehend and ascertain the gap between every section, especially section 299 and section 300 of Indian Penal Code, 1872. Although the above-mentioned sections are quite similar but there is a thin line of distinction highlighted by the Supreme Court of India while examining the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1872.
- AN OVERVIEW OF SECTION 299 OF IPC :
Section 299 of Indian Penal Code, 1872 deals with culpable homicide. The word homicide was originated from the Latin word homo, which means ‘man and cedere, ‘means cutting or killing’. Culpable homicide means death through the commission or omission of an act of a human being. The term culpable homicide is further classified into two categories: Culpable homicide not amounting to murder and Culpable homicide amounting to murder, under section 299 of Indian Penal Code, 1872. The composition of culpable homicide involves the ingredients of both physical and mental elements. Any event or action conducted with an intention to cause death or grievous bodily injury ultimately resulting in death, satisfying the elements of both physical and mental requirement would directly impose the liability or punishment on the person responsible for such event or action. Culpable homicide is the Genus and murder is the Species. All murders are culpable homicide but not vice-versa. Section 299 is often mistaken to be the definition of culpable homicide not amounting to murder but it is just a genus. Section
300 of IPC defines culpable homicide amounting to murder is not defined under a specific section as it is under the ambit of murder, which is section 300 of IPC.
- ELEMENTS OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE
- Death of a living person – The term death under section 299 of Indian Penal Code, 1872 means the death of a human being. Although the death of an unborn child doesn’t fall under the ambit of culpable homicide, but the death of a living child will definitely fall under the ambit of culpable homicide amounting to murder.
- Action or omission– The death of the person should be caused by the actions like poisoning, striking, drowning etc of the accused. Mere death due to the ageing or ailment will not amount to culpable homicide.
- Intention – The term ‘intention’ is referred to as the knowledge or expectations of the repercussion of the actions conducted by the accused. If a person is charged with doing something which is likely to have highly injurious implications, the intention is derived from the actions of the accused and the circumstances of the case.
- Knowledge: Knowledge is a strong word that offers an assurance rather than a chance. To penalize under culpable homicide, knowledge is one of the crucial elements to be considered. The term ‘knowledge’ here simply means the knowledge of the person about his acts and its repercussions (which is likely to cause death).
- The probability to cause death: The accused will be prosecuted under culpable homicide (not amounting to murder) even if the intention of the accused was not to cause death by the use of unreasonable force highlighting the repercussions, which had a probability to cause death.
- PUNISHMENTS FOR CULPABLE HOMICIDE
The punishment of culpable homicide not amounting to murder is defined under section 304 of Indian Penal Code, 1872. It states that “Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with 104[imprisonment for life], or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.”
Under this section, the degree of the punishments is mainly dependent on the two ingredients: intention of causing death or grievous bodily injury having the probability to cause death and the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death. According to section 304, the punishment for culpable homicide ranges from life imprisonment to imprisonment for a term which might extend to 10 years with imposition of the fine. If the act or the conduct is done with the prudent knowledge of the repercussions, that is likely to cause death but the element of intention to cause death was missing; then the punishment might vary from imprisonment upto 10 years or fine or both. The offences falling under the purview of Section 304 of IPC is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by Court of Session.
In the case of V. Sreedharan v. State of Kerala, the accused chased the deceased to a certain distance and then gave a single fatal blow due to the instant provocation fueled by the heat of passion on the sudden pursuit and the whole event was held to represent a continuous sequence. Consequently, the accused’s sentence was transferred from Section 300 to Section 304, Part 1.
- SUPPORTED CASE LAWS
- Rampal Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh
In the case of Rampal Singh v. State of U.P, the court defined ‘culpable homicide’ as the performance of an act or omission with the intention of causing death or bodily injury which has enough potential to cause death, or any other act carried out to cause death with the adequate knowledge.
The above statement not only emphasizes the term ‘intention’ but also the term ‘knowledge’. However, they are both optimistic and have diverse mental attitudes. The main mental element is the mental attitude towards the repercussions of the acts conducted with mere intention or knowledge. Once an offence committed is fitting under any of the above three classifications, it will be vindicated under the grounds of culpable homicide.
- Shanmugam v. State of Tamil Nadu
In the case Shanmugam v. State of Tamil Nadu, the accused stabbed the deceased on a minor altercation with a spear in the abdomen and the chest. After a septicaemia week, the patient died. The court suspected the accused to have inflicted grave wounds. The accused was Part I of Section 304.
- AN OVERVIEW OF SECTION 300 OF IPC
Section 300 of IPC specifically deals with murder including culpable homicide amounting to murder. The spectrum of culpable Homicide specifically focuses on the two elements: the intention and knowledge of the conduct. But if a man intentionally inflicts sufficient bodily injury in the ordinary cause of his nature to cause death, that person will be liable for murder under section 300 of IPC. In the event of murder, the probability of death is greater than in the case of guilty murder.
- ELEMENTS OF MURDER
- Acts committed with an intention to cause death: The ingredient of murder deals with any action or conduct including illegal omission, with an intention to cause the death of a living person, comes under the purview of culpable homicide amounting to murder. An act committed with the intention of causing death falls under the ambit of culpable homicide amounting to murder.
- Intentional bodily injury despite knowing the repercussion of death: The second element of murder deals with the bodily injury caused intentionally by a person having adequate knowledge of the consequences of death from that grievous injury. Such acts committed under this element also fall under the purview of culpable homicide amounting to murder. The offences falling under the ambit of this second element specifically focuses on: Intention and knowledge of the consequences of the injury.
- Intention being the crux ingredient of the bodily injury caused: The third element specifies that the intention to cause and actually causing the same grievous bodily injury resulting in the death of the person is sufficient to vindicate the subjective matter. Further enquiry regarding the intention or knowledge of the repercussions of the actions of the accuser is not required.
- Action probable to cause death without intention: The fourth element deals with the spontaneous actions that are caused without any intention of causing bodily injury to anyone. Such actions fall under the ambit of section 300 of IPC. However, the act mentioned in the fourth element should be followed by the knowledge of the action being dangerous enough to cause death or bodily injury, which may lead to death.
- PUNISHMENTS FOR MURDER
The punishment for the murder falls under the purview section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines that a person charged for murder, is liable for either life imprisonment or execution or both. The liability further shall extend to imposition of the fine.
- Jagrup Singh V. State of Haryana
In the case of Jagrup Singh V. State of Haryana, the appellant hit the defendant’s head with a blunt log of wood, causing his death. The court held that if any person strikes someone with a rod or log of wood without any justifiable circumstances, then such an action is considered to be an injury intentionally inflicted to cause death and hence the appellant was liable under section 302 of IPC.
- SUPPORTED CASE LAWS
- B.N. Srikantiah v. Mysore State
In the case of B.N. Srikantiah v. Mysore State, the deceased had suffered 24 injuries out of which 21 of them were inlaid. The injuries could be traced on several parts of his body including his head, neck, shoulders and forearms. The intention of inflicting bodily injury under section 300 of IPC was established by the traces of the injuries, which highlighted the use of small weapons for inflicting bodily injury.
- Abdul Waheed v State of Maharashtra
In the case of Abdul Waheed v State of Maharashtra, the deceased was wounded three inches deep with a knife over a trifle matter. The Supreme court held that the injury resulted in death was sufficient to draw the element of intention. By combining every factor, if the element of intention highlighted in the circumstances acts as a corroborative device to reflect intention, then the accused will be said to have formed the intention to cause death.
- EXCEPTIONS OF SECTION 300 OF IPC
Following are the exceptions under section 300 of IPC:
- Sudden provocation: The person committing an act under sudden provocation triggering the self-control, ultimately causing the death of any person will not fall under the ambit of murder. Rather it will fall under the purview of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
- Sudden fight: The death caused due to sudden combat out of rage resulting in the death of a person will not fall under the ambit of section 300 of IPC due to the absence of inferring the ‘intention’. Under this exception, the fight should not involve any premeditation. The time gap between the quarrel and actual combat is an essential element of this exception.
- Right to private defence: Under this exception, a person is empowered to use reasonable force for inflicting any sort of harm including death for the sake of his personal defence. The action should not be committed with the intention of causing death; rather the sole motive for inflicting the harm is personal defence using a reasonable degree of force.
- Consent: The death of any person except minor, caused after consenting to all the risks knowing the repercussion of death will not fall under section 300 of IPC. The element of consent under this exception must be free and voluntary.
- Excessive power exerted by a public servant: A public servant, being unauthorized by law, asserting excessive power resulting in the death of the person can’t use the exception of statutory authority as a defence. This exception applies only if the public servant does any act in good faith, believing to serve justice
Although both culpable homicide and murder deal with the killing of a person, but the scope differs in both the cases. Various researchers and scholars often fail to draw the line of distinction between the terms ‘culpable homicide’ and’ murder’, due to which they are often interchanged with each other. From the above elaborations, it is crystal clear that the term ‘Culpable homicide’ has a wider scope than term ‘murder’ as murder falls under the aggravation of culpable homicide with a higher probability of causing death with intention and knowledge, subjected to certain exceptions.