Among these Sections, Sec. 299 to Sec. 304 is very important in the Indian Penal Code. Because these offences are the result of the death of the human beings.
These offences are most heinous and cruel nature. Naturally there are numerous case-laws on culpable homicide and murder. The punishment is also severe. Hence the Courts take too much cautions and steps in interpreting the question of laws and question of facts.
Offences against human life are dealt from Sec. 299 to Sec. 318. Offences against human life may further divided into six sub-heads.
1. Culpable Homicide and Murder. (Ss. 299-304)
2. Causing death by negligence. (S. 304-A)
3. Abetment of suicide. (Ss. 305-306)
4. Attempt to commit the offences mentioned in (1), (2) & (3) of above. (Ss. 307-309)
5. Thug. (Ss. 310-311)
6. Offences relating to birth of children. (Ss. 312-318)
Out of the above six mentioned offences, the first group Culpable Homicide and Murder (Sees. 299 to 304) is very important. Every law student must know the differences between these two. It is one of the most important topics in the Code.
Homicide = the killing of a human being by a human being.
This word is derived from the Germanic word “Morth” which means secret killing. It is crept into English law. Murder and Manslaughter are thus defined in English law: “It is murder for a person of sound memory and discretion unlawfully to kill any human creature-in-being and under the Queen’s peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied by law, provided the person killed dies of the injury inflicted within a year and a day after the same.”
Sec. 299 defines “Culpable Homicide”. There are three Explanations and three Illustrations appended to Sec. 299, which clarify the definition.
Sec. 299. Culpable homicide:
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.
(a) A lays sticks and turf 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.
(b) A knows Z to be behind a bush. B does not know it. A, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely to cause Z’s death, induces B to fire at the bush. B fires and kills Z. Here B may be guilty of no offence; but A has committed the offence of culpable homicide.
(c) A, by shooting at a fowl with intent to kill and steal it, kills B, who is behind a bush; A not knowing that he j was there. Here, although A was doing an unlawful act, he was not guilty of culpable homicide, as he did:not intend to kill B, or to cause death by doing an act that he knew was likely to cause death.
A person, who causes bodily injury to another who is labouring under a disorder, disease or bodily infirmity, and thereby accelerates the death of that other, shall be deemed to have caused his death.
Where death is caused by bodily injury, the person who causes such bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the death, although by resorting to proper remedies and skilful treatment the death might have been prevented.
The causing of the death of a child in the mother’s womb is not homicide. But it may amount to culpable homicide to cause the death of a living child, if any part of the child has been brought forth, though the child may not have breathed or been completely born.
A. Ingredients of Section 299:
Section 299 is defining Section of “Culpable Homicide”, which is the causing of the death of a person in three elements,—
(i) With the intention of causing death;
(ii) With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death;
(iii) With the knowledge that the offence likely by such act to cause death; (the term ‘act’ includes “illegal omissions” )
B. Section 299 defines culpable homicide in a simple way.
Culpable homicide is of two kinds:—
(i) Culpable homicide amounting to murder and
(ii) Culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Sec. 299 cannot be taken to be the definition of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Culpable homicide is the genus. It is first defined in Section 299. There after Sec. 300 defines “Murder”.
Murder is species of Culpable Homicide. We can find that the framers of the Indian Penal Code did not define “Culpable homicide riot amounting to murder” separately. It is defined as part of Murder in Section 300.
C. Sec. 299 requires that there should be an intention to cause death or knowledge that the death is likely to be the result. Intention and knowledge are the ingredients of culpable homicide. They show the existence of a positive mental attitude.
This positive mental condition is the special mens re a. The framers did not use the word mens rea in Sec. 299. However they used similar words, i.e., intention and knowledge indicating mens rea of the wrong-doer.
D. Shuklal vs. State (1953 CrLJ 1815 Punj.)
In this case the accused stabbed the deceased with a blunt sided weapon. There were 17 injuries on the body of the victim. All the injuries were simple in nature.
The Punjab High Court held that the case fell under third alternative mentioned in Sec. 299, i.e., “doing an act with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death”. The Court convicted the accused under Sec. 304 Part-2.
E. State of Kerala vs. Mani (1992 CrLJ 1682)
The accused pushed the victim into deep water. The Court held that the act of the accused fell in the third alternative mentioned in Sec. 299, i.e., “with the knowledge that he is likely by such an act to cause death”. The Court convicted the accused under Sec. 304 Part-2.
F. Narayan vs. State of M.P. (1992 CrLJ 1157 M.P.)
Asudden quarrel arose between the accused and the deceased. Accused stabbed the deceased. A single knife blow resulted the death. The accused had no motive to kill the deceased.
The Court held that by doing the act, i.e., blowing knife, the accused knew that it would result to the danger of life. Hence the Court convicted the accused under Sec. 304 Part-2.
G. K. Ramakoteswar Rao vs. State of A.P. (1986 CrLJ 680 A.P.)
A sudden quarrel arose between the deceased and the accused. The deceased threatened the accused with dire consequences. Accused stabbed the deceased with knife. The Divisional Bench of the High Court of A.P. held that the offence would come under Sec. 299 (c). It convicted the accused under Sec. 304 Part-1.
H. Babu vs. State of Maharashtra (1980 CrLJ 378 Bom.)
The accused and the deceased were cousins, and were residing in the houses side-by side. In a quarrel, the accused attacked the deceased and assaulted him. As a result, the accused gave a stick blow on the head of the deceased. Death took place.
The trial Court convicted the accused under Sec. 302. The Divisional Bench of Bombay High Court converted the conviction from Sec. 302 to Sec. 304 Part-2 opining that the accused had no intention to cause the death of the deceased or to cause such bodily injury. However he knew that the stick blow would cause such bodily injury or as was likely to cause death.
I. Culpable homicide by causing death of person other than person whose death was intended:
Sec. 301 explains about culpable homicide by causing death of person other than person whose death was intended. It says that if a person by doing any thing which he intends or knows to be likely to cause death, commits culpable homicide by causing the death of any person, whose death he neither intends nor knows himself to be likely to cause the culpable homicide committed by the offender is of the description of which it would have been if he has caused the death of the person’ whose death he intended or knew himself to likely to cause.
Sec. 304 prescribes punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. It contains two Parts. The First Part imposes punishment with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
The Second Part imposes punishment with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both. There is a clear distinction between two parts. The First Part imposes severe punishment than the Second Part.
Sec. 304. Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder:
Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death;
or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death or to cause such bodily ‘ injury as is likely to cause death.
K. Nature of offence under Section 304 is:
Punishment – Imprisonment for life or imprisonment for 10 years, and fine. Cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Court of Session.
Para – II:
Punishment – Imprisonment for 10 years, or fine, or with both; Cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Court of Session.
L. Kasim Abdulla Hafiz vs. State of Maharashtra (SC 1998 SCC 526)
The accused stabbed on the abdomen of the deceased with knife two times. The deceased was operated. He lived for ten days of the incidence and died in consequence of the stabbing. The doctor opined that the injury was dangerous and sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
Attempt by accused to cause a second blow immediately indicating his intention to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death. The Supreme Court held that the accused was liable to be convicted under Part-I and not Part-II of Sec. 304.
M. Sudhir Samanta and others vs. State of W.B. (SC 1998 SCC 581)
There was a land dispute between the deceased family and the accused family. In a heat of discussion, Accused-1 gave only one lathi blow on the head of the deceased. Later Accused-3 hit with lathi in parietal region and Accused-7 on the body. Deceased died 32 hours after the attack.
The Supreme Court held that knowledge but not intention that their act was likely to cause death could be inferred, and in the circumstances offence fell under Part-II and not under Part-I of Sec. 304.