Culpable Homicide And Murder

 

 

    -By Preyoshi Bhattacharjee

    These two are one of the offences in IPC which are often confused. Culpable Homicide is an offence provided in Section 299 of IPC and murder is mentioned in Section 300. Homicide is constituted of two Latin terms, homi which means man and cidium means the act of killing. So, Homicide basically means the act of killing of a person. Culpable Homicide is a wider term and murder is a type of Culpable Homicide. Every murder is a culpable homicide but every culpable homicide is not a murder.

    Culpable Homicide


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

    Explanation 1.—A person who causes bodily injury to another who is labouring under a disorder, disease or bodily infirmity, and thereby accelerates the death of that other, shall be deemed to have caused his death.

    Explanation 2. — Where death is caused by bodily injury, the person who causes such bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the death, although by resorting to proper remedies and skilful treatment the death might have been prevented.
    Explanation 3. — The causing of the death of a child in the mother's womb is not homicide. But it may amount to culpable homicide to cause the death of a living child, if any part of that child has been brought forth, though the child may not have breathed or been completely born.

    Illustrations

    (a) A lays sticks and turf over a pit, with the intention of thereby causing death, or with the knowledge that death is likely to be thereby caused. Z, believing the ground to be firm, treads on it, falls in and is killed. A has committed the offence of culpable homicide.
    (b) A knows Z to be behind a bush. B does not know it. A, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely to cause Z's death, induces B to fire at the bush. B fires and kills Z. Here B may be guilty of no offence; but A has committed the offence of culpable homicide.

    Ingredients
    The essential ingredients of Culpable Homicide are
    1. There must be death of a person
    2. The death should have been caused by the act of another person
    3. The act of causing death should have been done with:
    (a) the intention of causing death
    (b) the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death
    (c) with the knowledge that such act is likely to cause death

    1. Death of A Person
    For holding a person guilty of the offence of Culpable Homicide it is necessary that there should be the death of a person. If a person does not die even after such an act, then the accused would be guilty of any other offence and not of the offence of Culpable Homicide.

    2. Causing Death
    The Section provides that ‘whoever causes death’ of another shall be liable for the act of Culpable Homicide. So, here what we have to see is whether an act has resulted in the death of the person. The death of the person must have been caused by the act of the accused.
    The other relevant thing to look for is whether the death was the direct result of the act or not. In the case of Moti Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh[[1]], the deceased Gyancharan had received gunshot wounds in the abdomen, which were life threatening on 9 February, 1960. There was no evidence as to whether he was fully recovered or not, however, he died on 1 March, 2019. His body was cremated without any postmortem being done. So here the Supreme Court held that mere fact that 2 gunshots were fired at him was not sufficient to hold it as the cause of his death. Since there was no proof that he died due to the gunshots, the accused was acquitted of the charge. The Court here highlighted that the connection between the primary cause and the death should not be too remote.

    3. Intention And Knowledge
    The act which caused the death of a person should be combined with either knowledge or intention as mentioned in Section 299. Intention and knowledge are two different things. The Supreme Court differentiated between intention and knowledge in the case of Basdev v. State of Pepsu[[2]] and stated: “Motive is something which prompts a man to form an intention. Knowledge is an awareness of the consequence of the act. In many cases knowledge and intention merge into each other and mean the same thing more or less and intention can be presumed from knowledge. T
    he demarcating line between intention and knowledge is no doubt thin, but it is not difficult to perceive that they connote different things.” Intention or knowledge is essential to constitute the offence of Culpable Homicide. There should be a mens rea in any of these forms
    (a) an intention to cause death or;
    (b) an intention to cause dangerous bodily injury likely to cause death or;
    (c) Knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.

    Intention here does not mean a pre meditation to kill a person. The expectation that the act would result into the death of a person is sufficient. Whether there is intention or not is a matter of fact and no such rule to determine intention could be formed. Direct proof of intention is always difficult to prove but it can be inferred from the actions of the accused.

    Explanation

    Explanation I provide that where the death of a person is accelerated due to a disease which he already had. The fact that his death is caused by a disease which he already had will not help the accused to be free from all charges and he will be liable for the offence of culpable homicide.

    In the case of RewaRam v. State of Madhya Pradesh[[3]] the accused had caused multiple injuries to his wife with the knife and she was admitted into the hospital and after the operation she developed hyperpyrexia i.e. high temperature and she died. The doctor after postmortem explained that the death was a result of Hyperpyrexia and not due to multiple injuries. However, the Court held that death of the wife was a direct consequence of the multiple injuries as she developed hyperpyrexia due to multiple injuries and the accused cannot escape his liability and he was convicted for murder.

    Explanation II provides a situation where the person after receiving injuries could have been saved if given proper medical facilities but died due to its non availability. In this situation the accused cannot escape his liability on the pretext that the deceased died due to non availability of medical facilities because the accused injured him in the first place.

    Explanation III states that killing of an unborn child inside the mother’s womb is not culpable homicide but if any part of the child has come out of the mother’s womb then causing his death will amount to culpable homicide even if the child may not have breathed or was not completely born.


    Murder


    Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines murder as

    Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
    2ndly.—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, or
    3rdly.—If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or
    4thly.—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.

    Illustrations
    (a) A shoots Z with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence. A commits murder.
    (b) A intentionally gives Z a sword-cut or club-wound sufficient to cause the death of a man in the ordinary course of nature. Z dies in consequence. Here A is guilty of murder, although he may not have intended to cause Z's death.
    (c) A without any excuse fires loaded cannon into a crowd of persons and kills one of them. A is guilty of murder, although he may not have had a premeditated design to kill any particular individual.

    Ingredients
    As already mentioned murder is a type of culpable homicide. So section 300 provides the cases where culpable homicide amounts to murder. Murder is punishable with either death or imprisonment for life and with a fine.[[6]] The essentials are as follows: an act will be considered to be an offence of murder if the death of a person is caused by an act

    (a) with the intention of causing death
    (b) With the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows as likely to cause the death
    (c) With an intention of causing bodily injury which is sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause death
    (d) Knows that the act is so imminently dangerous that in all probability is likely to cause death and the act was done without any excuse

    1. Intentionally Causing Death {Section 300(1)}
    Clause 1 of section 300 clearly states that if the death is caused by an act or omission with the intention of causing such death then in that case culpable homicide amounts to murder. Intention is sine quo non of this clause and the intention of a person could be determined by his acts. Intentions of a person can be proved by his acts. When a person sets fire to the deceased, after another had poured kerosene on his body, there cannot be any doubt that the intention of the accused was to kill the deceased.[[7]] Clause 1 of Section 300 is identical to the first clause of Section 299. Therefore, an act coming under clause 1 of Section 299 will also fall under clause 1 of Section 300 and it will be culpable homicide amounting to murder. In Vasanth v. State of Maharashtra
    2. Intentional Causing Of Bodily Injury With Knowledge That It Will Cause Death {Section 300(2)}

    Section 300(2) stipulates that if a person intentionally causes bodily injury and that too with the knowledge that such act is likely to cause death of the person on whim such injury is inflicted. It has certain important elements, first is that there should be infliction of an injury, secondly, that it should be in the knowledge of the accused that the injury is likely to cause the death of the injured person. The knowledge mentioned in the clause is subjective knowledge, because it is based on the accused’s perception of the result of his own act. In the case of Arun Nivalji More v. State of Maharashtra[[9]] it was held that the word ‘likely’ in clause 2 of Section 300, coupled with the word ‘knowledge’ indicates certainty of death not mere probability. It conveys that the chances of a thing happening are very high. In BN Srikantiah v. State of Mysore[[10]], there were as many as 24 injuries on the deceased and of them 21 were incised. They were on his head, neck, the shoulders and the forearms. Since most of the injuries were on vital parts and the weapons used were sharp, it was held that the intention of the accused was established and he was convicted under Section 300.

    3. Intentional Causing Of Injury Sufficient To Cause Death {Section 300(3)}

    This clause states that if a person with an intention to injure inflicts such an injury which in ordinary course of nature is sufficient to result in death, then he or she shall be liable for culpable homicide amounting to murder. In the case of Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab[[11]] the Apex Court laid down that in order to prove the guilt of the accused the prosecution must prove that
    1. That a body injury is present
    2. The nature of injury must be proved
    3. It must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular injury and it was not accidental or unintentional
    4. It must be proved that the injury of the type just described made out of the three elements given above, is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.

    What we can confer from here is that, the accused who inflicted the injury need not necessarily know the result of his act. Once the intention to cause that particular injury is established what will be seen is that the injury which was inflicted, was sufficient enough or not to result in the death of the injured person. Another important thing here is that the accused must have the intention to cause that particular injury which resulted into death. If the accused intended to inflict small injury but due to some circumstances, he ended up causing dangerous injury, then he will not be guilty of murder. In the case of Harjinder Singh v. Delhi Administration[[12]] the accused was trying to assault one Dalip Singh and the deceased intervened. The accused finding himself one against two took out his knife and stabbed the deceased on the left thigh but it resulted in the cutting of Femoral artery due to which he died. In this case the Supreme Court held that, it was not proved that the accused intended to give that particular injury on that particular place and he was said not to be guilty of murder but was convicted under Section 304.

    4. Knowledge That Act Is So Imminently Dangerous So As To Cause Death {Section 300(4)}

    Clause 4 of Section 300 states that any act which is imminently dangerous and is committed by a person resulting in the death of the other and without any reasonable cause, in that case the person inflicting such injury is guilty of murder. The act need not be directed toward any individual and it may not even be intentional it should be a reckless act without any justification leading in the death of a person. Under this clause only the knowledge of the act being dangerous is enough. Other requirement being that it should be without any excuse. In the case of State of Madhya Pradesh v. Ram Prasad[[13]] the accused husband and the deceased wife had a quarrel and the villagers were called to mediate but it proved to be futile. The husband poured kerosene on the wife and set her on fire. Here, the Supreme Court held that in clauses 1 to 3 of Section 300, there is a requirement of intention which is a matter of speculation. But clause 4 requires only the knowledge to be present. In the present case the husband set the wife on fire, he must have known the act would result in the death of the wife but he still did it without any reason. Thus, the Court held him guilty of culpable homicide amounting to murder under clause 4 of Section 300.

    I. When culpable homicide is not murder


    Clauses 1 to 4 provide conditions in which culpable homicide amounts to murder. But there are specific situations where culpable homicide does not amount to murder and those conditions are mentioned under the exception given under section 300. The exceptions provided under Section 300 are as follows: (a) grave and sudden provocation; (b) private defence; (c) acts of public servants; (d) sudden fights and (e) consent.

    1. Grave And Sudden Provocation

    Culpable homicide will not amount to murder if the offender on the account of grave and sudden provocation, is deprived of his power of self control and causes death of a person. However, there are also the exceptions to this exception

    a) The provocation should not have been sought for voluntarily by the offender, as an excuse for killing or doing any harm to any person.
    b) The provocation is not a result of an act done in the obedience of law or by the act of public servant in the lawful exercise of his powers.
    c) The provocation is not a result of anything done in the exercise of the right of private defence.

    For the exception to be applicable, it is necessary that the provocation should be both ‘grave’ as well as ‘sudden’. Grave means the provocation should be of such nature so as to give cause for alarm to the accused. Sudden means an action which must be quick and unexpected so as to provoke the accused.
    In KM Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra[[14]] the accused was a naval officer. One day his wife disclosed that he had developed an intimacy with the deceased. Enraged at this, the accused went to his ship, took his revolver and to the house of the deceased and shot him dead. Thereafter, the accused surrendered himself to the police. Here the Supreme Court held that, after the wife of the accused told him about his illicit relationship he must have momentarily lost control but there was a time difference of 3 hours till he reached the house of the deceased and thus he had plenty of time to regain his self control and thus, the exception was not applicable as the provocation was not sudden and he was held guilty of murder. The Supreme Court had laid down following rules regarding grave and sudden provocation

    1. The test of grave and sudden provocation is that whether a reasonable man belonging to the sane class and society of the accused, placed in the same situation as that of the accused, would be so provoked so as to lose self control.
    2. In India, words and gestures may also, under certain circumstances, cause grave and sudden provocation to an accused, so as to bring an act under the first exception.
    3. The mental background created by the previous act of the victim may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether the subsequent act caused grave and sudden provocation for committing the offence.
    4. The fatal blow should be clearly traced to the influence of passion arising from that provocation and not after the passion had cooled down by the lapse of time or otherwise giving room and scope for premeditation and calculation.

    2. Private Defence
    While exercising the right of private defence for body and property, sometimes, a person may exceed the right to private defence and such act may also result in the death of a person. So this exception just mitigates the guilt and the person who exceeds such a right will be liable for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. In the case of Nathan v. State of Madras[[15]] the accused and his wife were in possession of some land which they had been cultivating for some years. They fell into arrears for the amount of lease and when the landlord trued to evict them forcefully, the accused in private defence killed the deceased. The Supreme Court held that the accused has exceeded his right of private defence as the landlord was unarmed. So, the act fell within the second exception and the accused was held to be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

    3. Act Of Public Servant

    For this exception to be applicable there are certain ingredients which are to be present and they are as follows- a death caused by an act will not amount to murder but to culpable homicide if-
    a) The offence is committed by a public servant or by a person aiding a public servant.
    b) The act committed by the public servant should be in the discharge of his official duties.
    c) He should have exceeded the powers given to him by law
    d) The public servant should have believed that his act was lawful and necessary for the due discharge of his duties, and
    e) He should not have borne any ill will towards the person whose death was caused.

    4. Sudden Fight

    This clause provides the cases where without any pre-meditation an act is done which results in the death of a person but the act which was done was done in a fight where the heat of the moment was so gross and sudden that the accused at that time lost self control and did an act which resulted in the death of a person, then in that case, the accused will be guilty for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. It much similar to the first exception of grave and sudden provocation but here it is immaterial which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault. The essentials of this exception are

    a) The murder should have been committed without premeditation
    b) It should have been committed in a sudden fight
    c) It should have been committed in the heat of passion
    d) It should have been committed upon a sudden quarrel
    e) It should have been committed without the offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
    In the case of State of Madhya v. Shiv Shankar[[16]] where an altercation arose between the accused and the complainant after the former slapped the latter and the accused thereafter went home and brought a licensed gun and shot the deceased and due to which he died. Here, the Supreme Court held that the accused is guilty of the offence of murder as there was premeditation when the accused went home and brought a gun.

    5. Death By Consent

    Culpable Homicide is not murder if the person whose death is caused, being above the age of 18 years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent. In Dasrath Paswan v. State of Bihar[[17]] the accused, who was a tenth student had failed thrice in the exams and was frustrated. He informed his wife, 19 years of age, about his intention to kill himself. She suggested that he should first kill her and then himself. He thus, killed her wife but before he could kill himself he was arrested by the police and he was held liable under Section 304 as the culpable homicide did not amount to murder.

    Difference Between Murder And Culpable Homicide



    There is not much difference between murder and culpable homicide. As murder is a type of culpable homicide. There are practically three degree of culpable homicide recognised in IPC :
    a) Culpable homicide of first degree, which is made punishable with death or imprisonment for life, to either of which fine may be added, this is murder (Section 302)
    b) Culpable homicide of second degree, which is made punishable with the imprisonment up to a limit of 10 years, or with imprisonment of life, to either of which fine may be added (Section 304 Para 1)
    c) Culpable homicide of third degree, which is punishable with fine only or with imprisonment upto 10 years or with both (Section 304 Para 2)
    So, by seeing this it can be inferred that there is not much difference between murder and culpable homicide. As the first degree of culpable homicide is itself murder. But the difference lies in the degree of the act. The differences between the two are as follows:

    1. Culpable homicide is a wider term than murder. All murders are culpable homicide but all culpable homicides are not murder.
    2. Murder is the aggravated form of culpable homicide
    3. In murder the offender has a definite knowledge and intention whereas in the case of culpable homicide the knowledge as well as intention is not so definite.
    4. There is a difference in the quantum of punishment for murder and culpable homicide. For murder there is either death punishment or life imprisonment but in the case of culpable homicide the punishment is either imprisonment for 10 years or for life.
    So, there is not much to differentiate between these two but the differentiation is possible as several guidelines are also provided by the Courts. There is a thin line of difference between murder and culpable homicide which is necessary to understand to give justice to people.



    References

    1) AIR 1964 SC 900
    2) AIR 1956 SC 488
    3) Ibid.
    4) Kesar Singh v. State of Haryana(2008) 15 SCC 753
    5) (1978)Cr Lj 858 (MP)
    6) Section 302, Indian Penal Code,1860
    7) Bandampalli Venkateshwaralu v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1975) 3 SCC 492.
    8) AIR 1998 SC 699
    9) AIR 2006 SC 2886
    10) AIR 1958 SC 672
    11) AIR 1958 SC 465
    12) AIR 1968 SC 1390
    13) AIR 1968 SC 881
    14) AIR 1962 SC 605
    15) AIR 1973 SC 665
    16) (2014) 10 SCC 366
    17) AIR 1958 Pat 190






FOLLOW LAWBRIEFCASE ON SOCIAL MEDIA




Privacy Policy

Terms and conditions