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Murder and Culpable Homicide under Indian Penal Code | Criminal Law for Judiciary Exams PDF Download

Introduction

  • Law serves as a vital tool for governing society, facilitating positive social change. Distinguishing between criminal and civil offenses is crucial since they entail different liabilities, natures, and penalties.
  • A crime is perceived as an offense against society, affecting individuals and the community as a whole. Blackstone defines it as an act contravening public law.
  • The Indian Penal Code embodies laws governing penalties for offenses committed within its purview, aiming at the effective regulation of society.
  • Chapter 16 of the Indian Penal Code focuses on offenses affecting the human body, encompassing Sections 299 to 377 and addressing crimes causing death.
  • Sections in the Indian Penal Code are comprehensive and interconnected. For instance, Section 299 addresses culpable homicide, involving causing death with intent or bodily harm, while Section 300 pertains to murder, requiring specific intent.
  • The distinction between culpable homicide and murder lies in the offender's intent: culpable homicide involves causing bodily harm leading to death, whereas murder entails the offender's knowledge that the act will result in death.
  • Penalties for murder and culpable homicide differ, with Section 302 prescribing death or life imprisonment in murder cases and Section 304 dealing with punishments for culpable homicide.

Homicide under Indian Penal Code

Definition of Homicide: Homicide, the most severe offense against a human body under the Indian Penal Code, is covered in Sections 299 and 300. The term "homicide" originates from the Latin words "homo" meaning man and "cide" meaning to kill, signifying the killing of a human by another human.

Types of Homicide

Lawful Homicide

  • A lawful homicide occurs unintentionally, without criminal intent, while performing a lawful act with due care and caution. Acts falling under Chapter IV of the Indian Penal Code provide justifications for lawful homicide, including cases of:
  • Examples:
    • A person acting in good faith under a mistaken belief of fact justifies the homicide.
    • Judges, acting in good faith under legal authority, are justified in their actions.
    • Acts for the right of private defense of property or persons are considered lawful.

Unlawful Homicide

  • Unlawful homicide, not covered by Part IV of the Indian Penal Code, includes culpable homicide not amounting to murder, murder, negligent or rash acts, and suicide.
  • Examples:
    • Culpable homicide not amounting to murder involves causing death without the intention to kill.
    • Murder is the intentional act of causing death.
    • Negligent or rash acts leading to death fall under unlawful homicide.
    • Suicide is also categorized as unlawful homicide.

Question for Murder and Culpable Homicide under Indian Penal Code
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What is the key difference between culpable homicide and murder?
View Solution

Culpable Homicide under Indian Penal Code

  • Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code governs culpable homicide. It defines the offense as causing the death of a person either intentionally or with the knowledge that the act could result in death.
  • An act does not qualify as culpable homicide unless it involves causing death with the intention, causing bodily injury likely to cause death, or knowledge that the act could cause death.
  • Section 299 focuses on intention and knowledge related to causing death. In a case like Sunder Lal VS. The State of Rajasthan, the use of weapons like a lathi and a gandasi resulted in conviction under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code due to the role of knowledge.
  • Key elements of culpable homicide include:
    • The death of a person must occur.
    • It should be caused by another person.
    • The death must have been:
      • Caused with the intention of causing death.
      • Caused with the intention of causing injury resulting in death.
      • Caused with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.
  • It is crucial to differentiate between "intention" and "knowledge." Knowledge implies conscious awareness of facts without immediate action, while intention involves conscious action for a specific purpose.
  • In cases like Kusa Majhi VS. State of Orissa 1985 Cr.LJ 1460, where death resulted from blows in a fit of anger, culpable homicide is determined based on the likelihood of causing bodily injury that leads to death.
  • Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code specifies punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which includes life imprisonment or imprisonment up to ten years along with a fine.

Murder under Indian Penal Code

  • Origin of the Term: The term "murder" has its roots in the German word "morth," signifying secret killing. It involves the deliberate killing of one individual by another with premeditation.
  • Differentiation from Culpable Homicide: Murder is considered a graver offense compared to culpable homicide. Section 300 of the Code outlines the actions constituting murder, emphasizing that an act can only be classified as murder if it falls under culpable homicide.
  • Intention and Knowledge: Just as in culpable homicide, intention and knowledge play crucial roles in defining murder. The likelihood of death is higher in murder cases than in culpable homicide scenarios.

Types of Murders

  • First Degree Murders: These involve meticulous planning targeting the victim.
  • Second Degree Murders: In these cases, there is a clear intention to harm but not necessarily to kill the individual.
  • Third Degree Murders: Result from negligence or apathy on the part of the offender.
  • Fourth Degree Murders: Used when charging someone who aided the offender in committing a crime.
  • Justifiable Homicide: Occurs in self-defense situations and is not prosecuted as murder.
  • Felony Murder: Involves the death of a third party during the commission of a crime.

Ingredients of Murder

  • Intention to Cause Death: When a death is caused with the intention of causing death, it constitutes culpable homicide amounting to murder.
  • Intention to Cause Bodily Injuries likely to Cause Death: According to Section 300(2) of the Code, if an offender intentionally causes bodily injury knowing that it will likely cause the death of the other person, it qualifies as culpable homicide amounting to murder.
  • Intention to Cause Bodily Injury Sufficient to Result in Death: Section 300(3) states that it is enough if there is an intention to cause the injury that was actually caused, without any further inquiry required.
  • Knowledge of Dangerous Act: Under Section 300(4), cases are included where there is a dangerous action without the intention to cause bodily injury to any person, but the perpetrator knows that the act is so dangerous that it will likely cause death or serious injury.
    • Example 1: In a case where the offender continued to kick and beat the victim even after they fell senseless, the Court determined that the perpetrator must have known that such actions would result in the victim's death.
    • Example 2: In the case of B. N. Srikantiah VS. Mysore State, where there were 24 injuries, 21 of which were on vital parts like the neck and head, the Court established the intention to cause bodily harm, falling under Section 300.

Question for Murder and Culpable Homicide under Indian Penal Code
Try yourself:
What is the primary difference between murder and culpable homicide?
View Solution

Key Differences Between Sections 299 and 300 of IPC, 1860

  • The distinction between Sections 299 and 300 of the Indian Penal Code can be challenging due to the subtle yet crucial differences that exist.
  • One of the primary areas of confusion lies in the "intention" of the perpetrator to cause death, which is a common element in both provisions.
  • When a victim is killed through a premeditated act, it typically constitutes murder due to the high degree of intent to kill.
  • In contrast, if a victim is killed in a spontaneous altercation without prior planning, it is often categorized as culpable homicide.
  • It's important to note that murder is considered a more serious form of culpable homicide, with a clear intent to cause death.
  • Section 299 uses the term "likely," indicating one of the possibilities that lead to culpable homicide, while Section 300 employs "sufficient," suggesting a higher probability.
  • Another distinguishing factor is the likelihood of death, which is higher in cases of murder compared to culpable homicide.
  • The concept of mens rea, or the mental state of the offender, also plays a crucial role in differentiating between the two offenses.
  • Courts have established a framework to determine under which section a case falls, starting with whether the accused caused the victim's death and then assessing if the act aligns with the criteria in Section 299 or Section 300.
  • The final stage involves analyzing the specifics of the case to ascertain if it falls under any of the four clauses of murder outlined in Section 300.
  • Despite these efforts, drawing a clear line between culpable homicide and murder can be a complex task.

Conclusion

  • The interpretation and wording of offenses related to the human body are both clear and appropriate. Culpable homicide and murder, while overlapping, represent distinct crimes that differ based on the probability of death or the severity of the act. Although they may appear similar, culpable homicide is considered a broader term than murder. Murder involves a heinous act resulting in death, while culpable homicide, while serious, leaves the victim alive with grievous hurt and doesn't escalate to murder.
  • Determining the nature of an act requires a careful examination of the facts, followed by an assessment of the offender's knowledge and intention. Acts with higher intention or knowledge naturally fall under the category of murder.
  • Each case necessitates an individualized examination, depending on its unique facts and circumstances, emphasizing the crucial role of judges. Given the lack of a radical difference between these two crimes, distinctions are often case-specific. Lawyers for both parties bear the responsibility of presenting compelling arguments before the court, as it is the specific facts of each case that determine the level of offense.
The document Murder and Culpable Homicide under Indian Penal Code | Criminal Law for Judiciary Exams is a part of the Judiciary Exams Course Criminal Law for Judiciary Exams.
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FAQs on Murder and Culpable Homicide under Indian Penal Code - Criminal Law for Judiciary Exams

1. What is the difference between murder and culpable homicide under the Indian Penal Code?
Ans. Murder and culpable homicide are both forms of unlawful killing, but the key difference lies in the intention behind the act. Murder requires the presence of specific intent to cause death or bodily harm that is sufficient to cause death, whereas culpable homicide does not necessarily require such a high level of intent.
2. What are the key ingredients of murder under the Indian Penal Code?
Ans. The key ingredients of murder under the Indian Penal Code include the intentional causing of death, the act being done with knowledge that it is likely to cause death, and the act not being done in the heat of passion upon sudden provocation.
3. How does Section 299 of the IPC differ from Section 300 in relation to culpable homicide and murder?
Ans. Section 299 of the IPC defines culpable homicide as the act of causing death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death. Section 300, on the other hand, defines murder as culpable homicide with specific intent to cause death.
4. What constitutes culpable homicide under the Indian Penal Code?
Ans. Culpable homicide is defined as the act of causing death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death. It does not require the specific intent to cause death that is necessary for a murder charge.
5. How does the Indian Penal Code classify different types of unlawful killings?
Ans. The Indian Penal Code classifies unlawful killings into two main categories - culpable homicide and murder. Culpable homicide covers all forms of unlawful killings that do not meet the specific criteria for murder, while murder requires a higher level of intent to cause death.
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