Culpable Homicide and Murder

Updated: Oct 9, 2020


Culpable homicide is the primary stage of a Murder. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines and deals with crime. Under Section 300, "Culpable Homicide is equivalent to Murder" is one of the most egregious offences against human bodies dealt with under the Indian Penal Code. Under section 302 of the Penal Code, an act of murder is punishable by the penalty of either life imprisonment or death sentence along with a fine. Genus is the culpable homicide in the IPC system and a murder is its specie. Every murder is a culpable murder, but not vice versa. The IPC basically recognizes three degrees of guilty homicide for the purpose of fixing punishment, proportionate to the seriousness of the generic crime. Culpable Homicide is defined under section 299 of the IPC. It's a Latin word where homo means man and cide means I cut. Homicide, then, means murdering man by man. Murder can be legal or unlawful. Culpable homicide means death punishable by law by a human organization. Both murders are guilty shootings, but not all guilty murders are murders. Thus, there is basically no distinction between murder and guilty homicide. The query that occurs is whether a murder or guilty assassination is a crime that does not equate to murder? Ingredients of Culpable Homicide: 1. Act: The act must be of such a magnitude that it would put the life of someone at risk or affect the life of someone to such an extent that the individual would die. The act would require a high degree of violence against the person in most instances. Instances that may constitute guilty homicide include, for example, stabbing a person in vital organs, shooting someone at point blank range, or administering poison. Some acts that may not contain severe levels of violence are-in the common usage of the word, starving someone may not involve violence, but may trigger the death of an individual. 2. Intention (presents of mens rea) The commission of the act was with the intention of causing death. Therefore, if there is no intention of causing death when one pushed someone for a joke and the person falls on his head gets a brain injury and dies, but when one intentionally pushed the person with the expectation that the person falls and dies, the act is meant to cause death in that situation. 3. Knowledge: Knowledge is distinct from intent to the point that if a person does not have the intention of performing an act that kills, he recognizes that the act that he performs will take the life of someone or is likely to take the life of someone will be considered to have the knowledge that he is likely to cause death by such an act. 4. Possibility: By the commission of the there is a huge possibility that after the act is completed the person will die as a consequence of the action done with intention and knowledge.

Cases: 1. Kusa Majhi v State of Orissa 1985 Cr. L.j 1460 The deceased scolded her own son not to go with the co-villagers to fish. The son brought an axe and clashed with the strikes on her shoulder, offended at this by the defendant, and she died. The crime was not pre-planned. The blows were not to the area of the neck or ears. The defendant delivered blows that were likely to cause bodily injury that was likely to cause death and he delivered blows on the counterbalance of moment and rage. It was also deemed a case of culpable homicide. 2. Ganesh Dooley Tulsa I.L.R 20 All. 143 A snake charmer displayed in public a poisonous snake with teeth and claws he knew had not been removed and put the snake on the head of one of the spectators to demonstrate his abilities without any intention of causing harm to anyone. The spectator attempting to drive the snake off was bitten and died as a result. The snake charmer was found guilty of a culpable homicide that did not amount to murder. The punishment for the culpable homicide which does not amount to murder has been expressly mentioned under section 304 of the IPC as punishment to the extent of 10 years with fine or life imprisonment with fine as the court thinks fit.

Murder (Culpable Homicide Amounting to Murder): It is covered under section 300 of IPC; the section aims to target those actions which led to culpable homicide amounting to murder. Under this section an act can be murder: 1. An act is categorized as murder when it fulfills all the ingredients or elements of culpable homicide. 2. In addition, there should be sufficient act in ordinary course to cause death along with the person sometimes having special knowledge about the disorders or disease and the person committing the offence and taking undue advantage of the same to cause death. 3. The cat is inherently dangerous act and is committed without any excuse. The section also has exceptions with led to culpable homicide not amounting to murder:

Exception 1: Grave and abrupt provocation If the individual loses his / her self-control by both the sudden and extreme provocation and that causes the death of the person; who caused certainly caused the provocation or some other person due to an error or accident, then he may be responsible for the culprit that does not equate to murder. This implies that there has to be imminent aggression and intervention. The attacker should not be given any time to reflect and act. Case: Suljina Dhan v. Assam State [2018], the Gauhati High Court dealt with the first exception in the case. In this case, under Section 302, a wife has been convicted for murdering her husband. There was no eyewitness account in the case, and circumstantial testimony relied solely on the prosecution case. The deceased was a traditional drunken man who frequently used to argue with his wife. The day he was murdered, a dispute arose and the dead man even attempted to attack his wife. The court determined, however, that there had been a significant and sudden provocation and that there had been no other motive for the accused to have her husband killed. The wife was also entitled to the protection of Section 300 IPC, Exception 1, since she was considered to be a survivor of the circumstances.

Exception 2: The right of private defense: Culpable homicide shall not constitute murder if the defendant, in the exercise in good conscience of the right to private protection of the individual or property, exceeds the power granted on him by statute and causes the death, without premeditation and without any intention of doing more harm than is appropriate for the purpose of such defense, of the individual against whom he exercises the right of protection. Under sections 96 to 109 of the IPC, the right to private defense is dealt with. Any act that is committed while exercising the right or private defence is not deemed to be an offence, according to Section 96. Case: The Supreme Court ruled, in Raj Singh v. Haryana State[2015], that: If right of private defense is read with Section 300, Exception 2 to Section 300, it could be seen that guilty homicide is not murder, if the defendant exercised the right of private defense in good faith and therefore violated that power and caused the victim to die, given that the act was performed without premeditation and without any intention of doing more harm than was actually required. In the present case, the group of plaintiffs and the group of accused have quarrelled with each other. The groups of victims were not armed with lethal weapons of any sort. But with a pistol, the accused party shot at them. In this case, the offender had the right to a private defense, but there were no circumstances in which that right could be exceeded by causing death. In view of the circumstances, however, the accused will not benefit from the above-mentioned Exception 2 and will be convicted of murder in accordance with Section 300.

Exception 3: Surpassing civic obligation Culpable homicide is not murder if the suspect, being a public servant or assisting a public servant working for the promotion of public justice, exceeds the powers granted to him by statute, and causes death by performing an act that he considers to be lawful and appropriate in good faith for the proper discharge of his duties as a public servant and without ill-will against the person whose death is caused. As shown below, the ingredients are: • The person committing the offence must be a public servant or a public servant's helper. • He must behave in support of the pursuit of public justice. • He should have authority or is entitled to exercise such authority. • While exercising it, he surpassed the power and caused death. • He had no ill-will or enmity against the person he murdered. • He believed sincerely and honestly that his act was lawful and necessary for his obligation to be fulfilled. Exception 4: Sudden Fight Culpable murder is not murder if, after a sudden quarrel, it is committed without premeditation in a sudden battle in the heat of passion and without the perpetrator having taken undue advantage or behaved in a cruel or unusual way. The components of the exemption are: • A sudden battle needs to take place. • A sudden quarrel and a consequent heat of passion must be there. • Another person was killed in such a situation. • He did not act cruelly and only as a result of the heat of passion did he do the act. Illustration: A and B have been quarrelling. Suddenly, B stabbed A. A was provoked and struck B with a nearby iron rod. B fell down on the first hit, and he later died. He would have been punished for murdering B if A had continued to hit B even after he fell down and thus caused his death. In this case, he just committed a guilty crime that did not amount to murder. Exception 5: Consent which causes death According to Section 300, Exception 5, guilty homicide is not murder when the person whose death is induced is over 18 years of age and has consented to his death himself. In Queen-Empress v. Nayamuddin and others [1891], consent was specified by the High Court of Calcutta. Consent under the IPC is not valid if it is obtained by any misrepresentation or concealment; in order to extend this exemption, it must be provided that the deceased, having full knowledge of the truth, is determined to suffer death or to take the risk of death, and that decision has persisted until the moment of death of the deceased, and has existed at that time. Punishment for murder has been mentioned under section 302 and it states that a person shall be punished with life imprisonment or death sentence.

Conclusion: It can be concluded that all murders are culpable homicide but not vice versa, and murder have exception where one can take a defense for not committing murder despite doing an act with led to death of an individual. The exceptions where one is liable for culpable homicide not murder, they are grave and sudden provocation, sudden fight, self-defense, consent to death and obeying the duty of being a civil servant. The amount of punishment also vary in both.

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