• Legis Scriptor

An Analysis of the difference between Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder and Murder.

Authored by Yatharth Chauhan

Keywords: Grave offense, Criminal Justice, Homicide, and Murder.


Hitherto, there was no criminal Law in an uncouth society. " A tooth for tooth, an eye for an eye, a life for a life" was the predecessor of criminal Justice. In the present day killing of a human, Being is one of the grave offense against humanity and such crime is better known as Homicide. Both Culpable Homicide and Murder are the two common terms specifically use in the context of crime. The Present Article deals with the difference between Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder and Murder under the Indian Penal Code.


Culpable Homicide is discussed under section 299 of IPC whereas Murder is envisaged under section 300 of IPC. The former states that if any person causes the death of another person by an act with the motive to cause death or with the motive to provide bodily injury as is possible to cause the death or with the awareness that he is possibly to cause death, accomplish the offense. According to the Halsbury Law of England, the word "Homicide" means the assassination of a human being by another human being.

Here, the killing could be Legitimate or Illegitimate and criminal. If the killing is Illegitimate then it covers Murder, Manslaughter, the killing of a human being for any suicidal pact, and killing of an infant. In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Damu[1], it was said that the court of Law must be watchful to decide the Murder fits into the category of Homicidal or not. It is pertinent to highlight that under section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, Homicide develops into culpable the moment when a person brings the life of another person to an end in an inexcusable manner. Culpability primarily hinge on several factors namely

awareness/knowledge, motive, and modus operandi of the act committed by the accused.

Some of the essential elements of culpable Homicide are as follows:

1. "Cause Death"- A particular act is pronounced to cause death when it arises directly or emerge from some outcome undoubtedly streaming from such act. According to section 46 of the Indian Penal Code, Death implied the death of a Human Being. However, the term 'Death' does not embrace the death of an unborn child. In the case of Aruna Ramchandra v. Union of India[2], it was said that Death takes place, the moment when the Brain stops working completely. A person cannot be declared if any activity about the brain is still working.

2. Performing an Act to cause Death- Intention means an actual intention to cause death. In the case of Radha Krishnan v. State of Tamil Nadu[3], the husband, knowing allegiance of his wife, consciously thrown a stone on her head when she was slumbering emerging in her death and thus he was under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code held guilty. Under section 32 of the Indian Penal code words covering acts committed also includes an illegal omission. Hence, Death results due to an illegal omission amount to culpable Homicide.

3. Intention to Cause Bodily Injury as is probably to cause Death- it is necessary to take into notice the term 'likely' under section 299(b) signify the sight of probably which distinguish it from the possibility. In the case of Daya Nand v. the State of Haryana[4], it was said that the expression envisaged in section 299 of the Indian Penal Code that is to say 'bodily injury in the ordinary course of nature to cause death' implied that death is probably due to the grave injury. In other words, it can be said that if any person did not have any intention to cause death however if he had the intention to provide bodily injury then also that person shall be penalized.

4. The knowledge that his Act can cause Death- The term 'knowledge' is a very powerful word and signify the certainty rather than probability. Knowledge means a kind of awareness about the consequences of any act. A person of one's volition cause injury which is adequate in the ordinary course of nature to cause death then that person shall be penalized.

5. Natural consequences of his Conduct- In the case of R v. Moloney[5], the accused person may be considered to have wanton a result if the accused predicted that result as a natural consequence of his conscious act. The accused person shall be penalized for all the natural consequences of his conduct and the accused cannot escape by having recourse to proper remedies as well as skilled Treatment. Even if the person died due to the wrong treatment which was given without any malafide intention by a well-experienced doctor then also the accused cannot escape.

6. A person for causing bodily injury to another person who is laboring under a grave disease or disorder and in this way advance the death of that person shall be adjudged to be liable for causing death- It hinted that death does not only occur due to that disease under which he was laboring but with the intention to cause the injury that has accelerated the death.

7. A person shall be Penalized for the Death of a child for committing culpable Homicide in the womb of Mother- If any person causes the death of an alive child if any of the body parts are brought outside although that child may not have been respired or entirely born then the person is liable for culpable Homicide.

Culpable Homicide Amounting to Murder

Culpable Homicide is Murder if it is committed with the intention of causing death, or

1. If it is committed with the intention to provide body injury since the accused is well aware to be probably to cause the death of that person- In the case of State v. Raja Parida[6], it was said that section 300 (2) of IPC covers the cases about constitutional loopholes or illness of the deceased. Death is the outcome of the injury caused by the accused.

2. If it is committed with the intention to provide bodily injury which is adequate in the ordinary course of nature to cause Death- There was an intention on the part of the accused to cause bodily injury and through medical evidence, it is established that that injury was adequate in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Once the intention on the part of the accused is manifested subjectively to the accused then the part left over regarding the inquiry is completely objective concerning the Medical evidence as to determine whether the injury panned to cause would have been adequate in the ordinary course of Nature to cause Death. It is the determination or awareness which is swamped with the act that creates a difference to determine whether the offense amounts to culpable Homicide or Murder.

3. If the person committing the act is well aware that his act is so imminently dangerous that in all the possible cause death or injury as is probably to cause Death- The awareness/knowledge on the part of the accused must be of abundance possibility. In the case of Santosh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, it was said that an awareness that natural, as well as a possible outcome of any action, would be death is adequate to convict the accused under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

After scrutinizing the Culpable Homicide Amounting to Murder as well as Culpable Homicide, it can be established that Culpable Homicide is a genus whereas Murder is its species. All the Murder can be culpable Homicide but all culpable Homicide cannot be Murder. When it comes to Culpable Homicide there is explicit Mens Rea, an intention to cause the death of the victim and the sufferer died but the accused who is aiming for the Homicide is not sure of Death but in the case of Murder, there is Mens Rea on the part of accused, however, the person who is advancing the homicide is sure of Death. Murder ordinarily embrace some sort of pre-planned action than the Homicide. All the culpable Homicide may not entirely calculate. It is vital to shed light on the fact that to make the accused liable for Murder then it is obligatory at first to establish him blameworthy of culpable homicide.


In India, Law regarding the culpable Homicide holds the killing of a person irrespective of any kind of intention. The intention is the factor that makes it different from the murder. The question of Law/fact is whether the Murderer was aware that the victim passes away. Depending on the brutality, Murder clasps rigorous imprisonment or death if the accused is a continuous offender or some other factor.





Foot notes:

[1] AIR 2000 SC 1691:2000 CrLJ 2301 [2] (2011) 4 SCC 454 :AIR 2011 SC 1290 [3] (1989) 1 CRIMES 721 [4] 2008 CrLJ 2975 (SC): AIR 2008 SC 1823 [5] (1985) LRC (Law Report of Commonwealth) (Cr) 566 [6] 1972 CriLJ 193