Indian Penal Code Section 300 and Its Exceptions
Authored by Siddharth Punj
Keywords:Murder; IPC 300; Culpable Homicide
Section 299 and 300 IPC deals with Culpable Homicide and Murder respectively. A culpable homicide is an act of killing an individual or causing such harm to an individual which will result in his/her death, whereas that act if falls under any clause 1-4 of section 300 IPC, it will be amount to murder. But there are 5 exceptions in section 300 IPC by the virtue of which an act of homicide will not be construed as murder. This article attempts to throw light on these exceptions of section 300 IPC and the involvement of judiciary in interpreting it from time to time.
Homicide is termed as killing of an individual by another individual or by a group for any reason like money, power, women, emotions etc. Our penal code segregated killing of an individual by another into two contentious subjects which are Murder and Culpable Homicide. First we will discuss briefly about these two subjects.
Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 describes culpable homicide and states:
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.
In other words, it could be concluded that culpable homicide is an act of intentionally killing or injuring someone heinously that will amount to his/her death and having complete knowledge that such act may cause death.
Whereas, section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 interprets murder from culpable homicide and states:
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--
Secondly--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--
Thirdly--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--
Fourthly--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.
In other words section 300 IPC elaborates the four clauses by the virtue of which a culpable homicide construes as murder.
Exceptions of section 300, IPC
Section 300 points out five exceptions under which any murder committed would be considered as culpable homicide and charged with section 304, IPC. It is necessarily to consider these exceptions while charging any person under section 302 or section 304 of the Indian Penal Code. The following are the five exceptions:
1. When the accused was dispossessed of the ability to self-control by anger or provocation, Exception I.
2. In implementation of the right of private defense, Exception II.
3. In implementation of the legal power, Exception III.
4. In a sudden fight, Exception IV.
5. With the consent of the victim or departed, Exception V.
According to the first exception of section 300, IPC if the offender causes death of a person as a result of grave or sudden provocation where such grave or provocation is caused by the deceased or any other person by accident or mistake, the act will fall under exception I and hence will be treated as culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The supreme court at various times interpreted and elaborated the exception of sudden provocation and grave in following cases:
In KM Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra Justice Subba Rao held that if their exists sufficient time lapse between the act of provocation and the act of killing then it could not be construed as sudden provocation and an exception under section 300, IPC.
In another case of Hansa Singh v. State of Punjab the accused caught the deceased in midst of the act of sodomy with his son and in outrage of it assaulted him which lead to his death. The court held this act as sudden provocation which resulted in heinous assault and shortened the accuser’s life sentence into seven years imprisonment under section 304, IPC.
Justice Katju in Muhtu v. State of Tamil Nadu penned that people sometimes do acts in heat of the moment that they would not do in normal temper. And constant series of events of harassment and persecution may lead to dispossession of power of self control which may result in sudden grave and provocation.
As witnessed in ‘General exceptions’ a person can exercise his right of private defense to protect his property and his life or life of others. It might be called attention to that the way that an individual has surpassed his privilege of private defense doesn't thoroughly absolve an individual under this special case. It simply is considered as a relieving variable to lessen the offense from that of murder to guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
It is also to be noted that the accused have to prove his right of private defense under section 96 of the code before availing this exception clause as a magnanimity from the court.
In Lachmi Koeri v. State of Bihar the Patna high court held the accused guilty under section 302, IPC stating that exception II does not apply when more harm is caused than required necessarily.
This exception is akin to exception II where the accused, a public servant outpaces his powers and causes death in discharge of his duty. This exception has certain essential elements which are as follows:
· The act must be done by a public servant
· The act committed by him must be in accordance to his powers conferred by the law.
· The act should be in bona fide faith.
· The public servant according to his knowledge that his act was lawful and necessarily required to discharge his duty.
· He should not have carried any ill-will or personal grudge towards the deceased person.
In Dakhi Singh v. State the suspect was a thief who was arrested by a police officer, while trying to escape by jumping down from the train from its off-side was shot dead by the police officer (finding himself not in the position to apprehend him), the court held that the accused as guilty of Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder, as it was a case where the officer though exceeded his legal powers did not have any ill-will and committed the offence for the advancement of public justice.
An act of culpable homicide is not amount to murder if it is committed without premeditation in the heat of a moment in a sudden altercation. In some instances, it is similar to the exception I but here the difference is of absence of self control by the accused.
Following are the crucial ingredients to avail the benefit of this exception:
· Death must be caused by a sudden fight
· Death must be caused in the heat of a moment
· Death must have been committed without the convict having undue influence.
· The sudden fight must been with the same person whose death has happened (Narayanan Nair v. State of Travancore- Cochin)
The final exception under section 300, IPC contains death by consent of the deceased which is also known as euthanasia or ‘mercy killing’. This exception states that if a major consents another person to initiates his death or takes a risk of death, the act will not considered as murder.
In Dasrath Paswan v. State of Bihar, the appellant in the Patna high court was an accused under section 302, IPC for murder of his wife. But the high court upheld the appeal of the convict stating that the victim being constantly in depression due to failure asked the accused to end his life falls under the exception V of the section 300, IPC.
Crime is an undesired part of human society. Sometimes circumstances force a person to commit such an offence which he would not do in his consent. Therefore exceptions are required in the penal code so that no one should be deprived of justice they deserved.
· PSA Pillai: Criminal Law,12th Edition.
· KD Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code, 5th Edition 2014.
· Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code, 35th edition.
 Indian Penal Code, 1860  Sec. 304, IPC Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder  Sec. 302, IPC Punishment for Murder  Ajit Singh v. State of Punjab, (2011) 9 SCC 462  AIR 1962 SC 605  AIR 1977 SC 1801  AIR 2008 SC 1  Section 76 – 106, IPC 1860  AIR 1960 Pat 62  See section 21, IPC 1860  AIR 1955 AII, 379  AIR 1956 SC 99  Major is a person above the age of 18 years  AIR 1958 Pat 190