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The word homicide is a Latin terminology in which ‘homo’ means human and ‘caedere’ means to cut or injury and it means to kill a human being through another being. It means the demise of a person by another person or a human species. This does not mean all homicides are unlawful and there are two types in homicide Lawful and Unlawful. Culpable Homicide is an unlawful homicide and chapter XVI of IPC deals with offences affecting the human body. The maxim ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’ has been frequently used in culpable homicide. Section 299: Definition of Culpable Homicide

Whoever causes death of the person 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 of such person then the offence of culpable homicide is being committed.

The essential ingredients of culpable homicide :

  • Person should have died.

  • The death of such person should have been caused by such action.

  • There should be an intention to cause death of such person.

  • Such bodily injury which is likely to cause death of such person.

  • Causing death by action which in his knowledge is likely to cause death of the person.

A child in the womb of his mother is not covered as causing the death of child in the mother’s womb is not homicide. Death of pregnant woman is one human homicide and not two.

In culpable homicide death should be caused with an intention to cause death because no person shall be held guilty of culpable homicide unless he has an intention to cause death.


In this case victim has sustained servant injuries and there was intension to cause death and a person is guilty of culpable homicide if he causes such bodily injury where there is a possibility to cause death.

Essentials of Culpable homicide-

Death caused by an act. In the case of Moti Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the accused shot two gunshots and caused wounds to the deceased and wounds were shot in the abdomen and were said to be dangerous to his life. The injury was caused and the recovery of his wounds or injury was not confirmed due to lack of evidence for the same. He eventually died and the body was not postmortem which leads to the question of law that would this be covered under culpable homicide. Court held that they cannot hold the accused as responsible for the death of deceased and stated that nexus between main cause of injuries and death of deceased should not be remote in nature.

Intention of the Person

The next essential which is the main difference between lawful homicide and unlawful homicide is men rea because mental element which is fundamental to constitute a crime or an offence as intention to cause death or the intention to cause bodily injuries which will lead to death Knowledge of the Person Wherein there is scope even the knowledge of the person about consequences of his act can cause the death of any other person or cause bodily injuries which are likely to cause death, to constitute intention.

This element, may not be premeditated or pre-determined but may be derived from the awareness of the accused with respect to the consequences of his acts or omissions.

Sections 299 to 311 states various types of culpable homicides which can cause punishments for the same.

Doctrine of transferred Malice This is a principle states that where the malice is assumed to be present in the mind of the accused to seek evidence of his intention and in the absence of the same then it remains culpable homicide and not murder.

The intention of a person is a question of fact and what can be considered as a mitigating factor here. In such situation one will be held guilty for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” and murder if is otherwise.

In Gurmail Singh v. State of Punjab, an argument took place between two people for indecent jokes aimed at the wife of the first person which lead to fights between the two people along with other accused involved, the deceased went ahead to stop and mediate in between the fights and because of which the accused who intended to hit the other person, did so to the deceased which resulted his death.

Other types of Culpable Homicide: Murder Section 300 states “Murder” which is known as “culpable homicide coupled with act intended to cause death or bodily injuries intended to cause death”. This involves mens rea to cause of death to any person. Death caused due to Rash/Negligent Behaviour Section 304A states “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide” and covers death caused by a doctor for being negligent, a motor vehicle driver due to rash driving etc. are the examples.

This section requires the proof of rash or negligent behaviour which depends upon the circumstances of each case and requires that there is an overt, rash or negligent act whose consequences are not expected to be so evil. The person can be convicted under this section if the proof of negligence is available.

Dowry Death

The word “dowry ” is explained in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished.

This is another type of culpable homicide and can be amounting to murder if the circumstantial evidence support for the same and made punishable by the court of law. Abetment to commit Culpable Homicide

The person who abates can be made punishable for culpable homicide. The main offender can be held not guilty in the absence of intention or knowledge and where such act is done with proper care and caution and not by negligence. Abetment to Commit Suicide

In Abetment to Commit Suicide main offender is abated by one person to commit suicide. Section 306 of IPC states if any person commits suicide and whoever abets the commission of such suicide shall be punished for such act.

Attempt to Commit Culpable Homicide

Section 308 of IPC states that whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that and if he by that act resulted death then he would be guilty of culpable homicide. He shall be punished and if the hurt is caused to any person by such act then shall also be punished.

Exception to Culpable Homicide

Exception to Culpable Homicide requires “cause of death or bodily injuries likely to cause death” to be inflicted upon the bodies of living beings. The person cannot be convicted if injuries are caused to lifeless bodies and one cannot be made guilty of culpable homicide if the same is intended to be caused to lifeless beings.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proving generally lies upon the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. When the case is covered by the exceptions u/S 300 of IPC then the burden of proof lies upon the accused to prove that one’s case is an exception and the prosecution is required to prove the foundation facts so as to create a doubt in the minds of judges.

Negligent Act

Negligence is a breach of duty imposed by law which may be either civil or criminal negligence depending upon the nature and gravity of the negligence. Criminal negligence is gross and culpable. The person who is convicted u/s 304A of I.P.C is not entitled to the benefit of probation and lenient Punishment.

Medical Negligence

There is an “implied undertaking” by member of medical profession that he would use a fair, reasonable and competent degree of skill. A medical practitioner cannot be found guilty merely because of opinion he made which resulted into error of judgement. Doctor can be held liable for negligence both in Civil and Criminal Law.


Kishore Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh

In this case it was held that the accused had killed his wife by infliction of multiple injuries including fracture of ribs. Considering the nature of situation and gravity of injuries it was held there was intention of causing such bodily injuries as was likely to cause death of the person and therefore was held guilty.

VK Chauhan v. State of UP

In this case it was held that post-altercation with the victim, accused went to his house in a huff and started firing revolver towards victims house, who received a bullet and died and at that time the victim by chance was bolting the door. The accused held liable to be convicted u/s 299 & not S. 300 as at best the accused can be said to have possessed the knowledge that use of revolver was likely to cause death of the deceased.

Abrahim Sheikh v. State of WB

In this case it was held that once it is established that the act was a deliberate act and was not the result of accident or rashness or negligence, then the offence would be that of culpable homicide.


The scope of Culpable Homicide is very vast and is of practical use and it includes all felonious homicide not amounting to murder. It involves basically a killing which the killer neither intended to do nor foresaw as likely to happen due to which it is an accidental, blameworthy felonious killing. Sections 299, 301, 304, 304A deal with the different aspects covered under this subject in descriptive manner and all provisions are not exhaustive and there is a need to dig into its application.

REFERENCE Ratanlal & Dhirajlal's BOOK ON IPC.





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