MURDER OR CULPABLE HOMICIDE?

Introduction

Both ‘Culpable Homicide’ and ‘Murder’ are sections of the Indian Penal Code, (IPC) 1860. We see Culpable Homicide as Section 299 of IPC and Murder as Section 300 of IPC but the terms are frequently interchanged; however, there exists a difference between the two.

In the bare act of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Culpable Homicide is genus and Murder is its specie. All murders are culpable homicide but all culpable homicides are not murder.

What is Culpable Homicide?

According to section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, “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”. This is the definition that is given under the IPC but the word is derived from the Latin word homo meaning ‘men’ and cide meaning ‘to kill’, therefore Homicide means killing of a man by another man, whereas Culpable Homicide means killing of man by any other person punishable by law.

Culpable homicide can either be lawful or can be unlawful or we can say that it can be either legal or illegal. It will be unlawful when the death of a person is caused by an intentional act or motive as it is discussed under section 299 of IPC.  For example-

X knows Z to be behind a bush and Y is not are aware of the fact. X, intending to cause, or knowing the fact that the act is of such a nature that it is likely to cause Z’s death, induces Y to fire at the bush. Y fires and kills Z. Here Y is guilty of no offence; but X has committed the offence of culpable homicide.

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Looking at another example,

  • X kicked the abdomen of Mr. Z with such high intensity and ferocity, that it fractured Mr. Z’s 4 ribs and also ruptured his spleen which led to the death of Mr. Z. It was held that Mr. X knew that the abdomen is the most delicate and vulnerable part of human body and presumed to have kicked with the knowledge that by so kicking he was likely to harm or cause death of Mr. Z.

There are some essential elements of culpable homicide-

1) If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

2) If it is done with the intention to cause death.

3) If it is done with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.

Case Laws-

1) Kusa Majhi vs. State of Orissa (1985) Cr. L.j 1460

2) Ganesh Dooley Tulsa I.L.R 20 All. 143

There are two types of Culpable Homicide-

(a) Culpable Homicide amounting to Murder.

In simpler words we know it as ‘murder’. It is defined under section 300 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

(b) Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder.

In this, there is lesser intention or knowledge than in culpable homicide amounting to murder. The punishment is discussed under section 304 of IPC.

Section 304 of IPC-

Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with life imprisonment or imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend up to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 300 of IPC-

According to section 300 of IPC, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder if there is,

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(a) an intention of causing death is present with the act by which the death is caused is done.

(b) an 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 is done.

(c) an 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 is done.

(d) 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.

For example-

(a) Mr. Y shoots Mr. B with the intention of killing him. Mr. B dies in the consequence. Mr. Y commit murder.

(b) Abhay without any excuse fires a loaded canon into the crowd of persons and kills one of them. Abhay is guilty of murder.

There are some exceptions to section 300 of IPC-

(a) Sudden and grave provocation.

(b) Exceeding the right of private defence.

(c) Offence committed by a public servant.

(d) Death caused in sudden fight.

(e) Death caused of person consenting to it. (The person whose death is caused should be above the age of 18 years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent.)

Case Laws-

(a) B.N. Srikantiah v. Mysore State [AIR 1958 SC 672]

(b) State of AP vs M Sobhar Babu.

Distinction between Culpable Homicide and Murder

The distinction between these two sections of IPC (i.e. section 299 and 300) was made clear in Reg. vs Govinda [1876 ILR Bom 342] by Melvil J. ( In this case the accused had knocked down his wife, put one knee on her chest, and struck her two or three violent blows on the face with the closed fist, which caused excessive bleeding of blood on the brain and she died in consequence, there being no intention to cause death and therefore the bodily injury not being sufficient within the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The accused was liable for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.)

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According to Sir J. Stephen, the definition of both the section are the weakest part of the IPC, as they are closely and very relatively formed and there is a very thin line difference between the two, and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between them because the occurrence of death is common to both. However, the difference between them is based upon a very subtle distinction of the intention and knowledge involved in these crimes. The true difference lies in the degree of the act, the greater the intention and the knowledge, the greater are its consequences that are to be faced by the guilty person.

Conclusion

Culpable homicide is a term wider than murder. Therefore, Culpable homicide is considered as the genus while murder is regarded as a species. Murder is an aggravated form of culpable homicide. In culpable homicide the knowledge is not so definite, while in murder the offender has a definite knowledge that the act would be resulting in death. Thus, the probability of causing death is higher in murder than in culpable homicide.

 

 

Author: AYUSH CHOUBEY,
Jagran Lakecity University, 1st Year

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