Table of Contents
Meaning of Homicide
Homicide means the killing of a human being by a human being. Homicide is the highest order of bodily injury that can be imposed on a human body. It is also considered as the most heinous of offences.
Homicide may be either lawful or unlawful.
Lawful Homicide : In case of lawful homicide, law will set the accused free. where the accused had a valid reason to commit the crime. In these cases, the person will not tend to be tried by the law and can also be exempted from the charges.
These can include death caused in self-defence or by mistake of fact or there was a bonafide implementation of the law etc. Lawful Homicide may include justifiable and excusable homicide. These acts are excused under chapter 4 of General Exceptions.
Illustration : A, an officer of a Court of Justice, being ordered by that Court to arrest Y, and, after due enquiry, believing Z to be Y, arrests Z. A has committed no offence.
Unlawful Homicide : If death is caused with intention or knowledge to cause death, then homicide is classified as unlawful homicide. These are known Culpable homicide Under Section 299 and Murder under Section 300 of I.P.C.
In India unlawful homicide is divided into two forms – Culpable Homicide (Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code) and Culpable Homicide amounting to murder (Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code). There is a very minute difference between them. Let’s understand.
Culpable homicide not amounting to murder : Section 299
An act done with the intention of causing death or causing such bodily injury which is likely to cause death or having the knowledge that he can likely by his act cause death, he’ll be committing the offense of culpable homicide.
Conditions to be proved
- The intention of causing death.
- The intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.
- With the knowledge that he is likely by such an act to cause death.
- A lays sticks and grass over a pit, with the intention of thereby causing death, or with the knowledge that death is likely to be thereby caused. Z, believing the ground to be firm, treads on it, falls in and is killed. A has committed the offence of culpable homicide.
- A not knowing that D has a tumour in his brain, hits him hard on the head with a cricket bat, with the intention of causing death or with the knowledge that death is likely to be caused D dies because of the bursting of the tumour.
Therefore, A is liable for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
PUNISHMENT FOR CULPABLE HOMICIDE : SECTION 304, IPC
- Imprisonment for life OR
- Imprisonment for either description of a term extending up to 10 years AND/OR
Culpable Homicide amounting to Murder : Section 300
- culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, OR
- 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
- 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
- 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.
If we analyse the definition under Section 300 of the IPC, culpable homicide is considered as murder if;
- The act is committed with an intention to cause death.
- The act is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury for which the offender has knowledge that it would result in death.
- The person has the knowledge that his act is dangerous and would cause death or bodily injury but still commits the act, this would amount to murder.
Conditions to be proved
- Causing death : There should be an intention of causing death
- Doing an act : There should be an intention to cause such bodily injury that is likely to cause death or
- The act must be done with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause the death of another.
P shoots O with the intention of killing him. As a result, O dies in that consequence, murder is committed by P.
EXCEPTIONS TO SECTION 300 : CULPABLE HOMICIDE IS NOT CONSIDERED AS MURDER
Section 300, lays down the cases in which culpable homicide becomes murder, it also states certain exceptional situations under which, if murder is committed, it is reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under Section 304 of IPC and not under Section 302.
The exceptions are :
- Grave and sudden provocation
- Private defence
- Exercise of legal power
- Without premeditation in sudden fight and
PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER : SECTION 302
Whoever commits murder shall be punishable with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.
Case : death penalty under section 302 can only be given in rarest of the rare case this was held in the case of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab wherein it was observed that when the court can avail the recourse of life imprisonment then why the court has to go for such an inhumane punishment like death penalty.
Major differences between culpable homicide and murder
“All murders are culpable homicide but not all culpable homicides are murders” this is a very common phrase used to establish a difference between culpable homicide and murder. It talks about the point that culpable homicide is the genus and murder is the species.
The major difference between them is that murder is a more aggravated form of culpable homicide. In murder there is no presence of ambiguity that the act may or may not kill as it is present in culpable homicide, looking at Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code where there is clearly mentioned that:
“Act done with the intention of causing death or causing such bodily injury which is LIKELY to cause death or having the knowledge that he can LIKELY by his act can cause death, he’ll be committing the offense of culpable homicide”.
Section 304 A : Causing death by negligence
Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 304A was inserted in 1870 to cover those cases which were caused by either rash or negligent and not covered by section 299 and 300. Law Commission of India in its 42nd Report (1971) recommended increasing punishment up to 5 years. Negligent or rash driving is the main concern.
To bring homicide under section 304A following conditions must be fulfilled –
(1) There must be homicide (death of person)
(2) The accused must cause such death (Cause-effect Relationship)
(3) Such death must be caused by rash or negligent act
(4) Such death must not fall under sections 299 and 300.
According to this Section, the person who is driving the vehicle must be either negligent or do the act rashly. The person must not have any intention or knowledge related to the fact that his act will lead to the death of any person. And at last, there must be the death of a person due to this rash/negligent act of the defendant.
There is a huge difference between the meanings of both these terms –
- By negligence, we understand a state of mind without foreseeing the consequence of the act of a person.
- By the term Rash, act we understand a state of mind that can foresee the consequence of the act but still ignore it.
- Both can not be present in a person simultaneously.
Such as, When a person throws a stone from the third floor without thinking whether there may be someone on the ground. Here the person is negligent in his act. Let’s take another instance where a person throws the stone by thinking about the fact that his act can cause injury to someone. Here the person will be liable for his rash act.
Section 309 of the IPC : Attempt to commit Suicide
Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offense shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 1 year or with fine or with both.
The language of section 309 is very simple and it implies that if someone attempts to commit suicide and if he/she is not successful in achieving his/her object, then he/she may face simple imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.
The demand for dowry has been prevalent from a very early time in our society. People demand dowry in the name of tradition. It is a matter of reputation for people and for that purpose the groom family and relatives torture bride if their demands are not fulfilled that also sometimes results into dowry death. To prevent such crime it is made punishable under IPC.
Section 304B of IPC
- According to Section 304B, to make out a case of dowry death, a woman should have died of burns or other bodily injuries or “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within 7 years of her marriage.
- She should have suffered cruelty or harassment from her husband or in-laws “soon before her death” in connection with demand for dowry.
- Death should be caused by burns or bodily injury or by any other circumstances.
- Death must occur within the seven years of marriage.
- It must be revealed that soon before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative.
- The cruelty or harassment on her should be in connection with the demand for dowry.
Punishment : Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
The term dowry has not been defined in IPC but in Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. According to the act, it has been defined as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly;
- By one party to a marriage to the other party to a marriage or
- By the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to the marriage or any other person at or before or any time after (on three occasions) the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties.