The Thin Line Between Murder And Culpable Homicide

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The Thin Line Between Sec.299 And Sec.300 IPC i.e Culpable Homicide & Murder

Written By: Meghna Prusty


Murder is characterized as the deliberate passing of someone else without avocation or legitimate explanation, especially when finished with malevolence aforethought. Contingent upon the ward, this perspective might isolate murder from different sorts of unlawful crimes, like homicide. Murder is characterized as manslaughter submitted without vindictiveness, because of sensible incitement or diminished limit. Where it is recognized, involuntary manslaughter is a killing that lacks all but the most mildly guilty intent, negligence.

Murder is seen as a particularly terrible crime in most communities, and a person convicted of it should face severe consequences for the purposes of revenge, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation. In most nations, a person convicted of murder faces a lengthy jail sentence, life in prison, or perhaps the death penalty.

The elements of common law murder are:

  • Unlawful
  • Killing
  • Through criminal act or omission
  • Of a human
  • By another human
  • With malice aforethought
  • Unlawful — This distinguishes murder from legal killings such as capital punishment, justified self-defence, or the killing of enemy fighters by lawful combatants, as well as causing collateral damage to non-combatants during a battle.
  • Killing — the complete and permanent stoppage of blood circulation and respiration – was the common law definition of murder. With advancements in medical science, courts have recognised the permanent loss of all brain function as a marker of death.
  • Criminal act or omission – Killing can be committed by an act or an omission.
  • Of a human – This element raises the question of when life begins. A foetus was not considered a human being under common law. The foetus took its first breath after passing through the vaginal canal.
  • By another human – Suicide was considered murder in the early common law.Suicide was not included in the definition of murder since the victim had to be someone other than the perpetrator.
  • With malice aforethought – Originally, the term malice aforethought meant an intentional and premeditated (previous intent) killing of someone driven by ill will. Murder necessitated a significant amount of time between the conception and execution of the murderous intent. By removing the requirements of genuine premeditation and deliberation, as well as true malice, the courts expanded the definition of murder. All that was needed for malice aforethought to exist was for the culprit to act with one of the four mental states that make up “malice.”

The four states of mind recognized as constituting “malice” are:

  • Intent to kill,
  • Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm short of death,
  • Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life (sometimes described as an “abandoned and malignant heart”), or
  • Intent to commit a dangerous felony

Culpable homicide

Culpable Homicide is the phrase used to describe the crime of manslaughter. It is a word used in Scottish and English law to describe a number of criminal killings that are analogous to manslaughter in other legal jurisdictions. “Whoever causes death by executing an act with the aim of causing death, or with the knowledge that such conduct is likely to cause death, commits the offense of Culpable Homicide,” says Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code.” Culpable Homicide simpliciter (Section 299, I.P.C), often known as manslaughter in English law, is a genus of homicide, followed by murder (Section 300, I.P.C), which is a species of homicide.

Explanation 1 – A person who causes bodily injury to someone who is suffering from a condition, disease, or bodily infirmity, thereby hastening that other’s death, is regarded to have caused that other’s death.

Explanation 2 – When death is caused by bodily injury, the person who causes the body injury is judged to have caused the death, even if the death could have been avoided by using correct remedies and skilled treatment.

Explanation 3 – It is not homicide to cause the death of a child in the mother’s womb. However, causing the death of a living child may constitute culpable homicide if any portion of that child has been brought forth, even if the infant has not yet breathed or been fully born.

The thin line

The goal behind the act is shown by the thin line. All homicides are accountable, but the opposite is not true. This issue as to which case will fall under which category has been a recurrent matter before courts ever since the IPC was adopted. On the surface, the relevant provisions of the Code appear to classify the situations into two categories, but when it comes to real implementation, the courts are frequently presented with this quandary. This uncertainty arises when it is difficult to determine from the evidence whether the aim was to cause only bodily injury, which would not constitute a murder offense, or whether there was a clear intention to kill the victim, which would be a murder offense. The most perplexing component is ‘aim,’ because the intention in both sections is to inflict death. As a result, you must examine the degree of criminal intent of the perpetrators. If a person is killed cold-bloodedly or with premeditation, it is considered murder because the intent to kill is high and not motivated by wrath or provocation. Culpable murder, on the other hand, is defined as a death that occurs without prior preparation, in an unplanned conflict, or in an unplanned outburst of rage as a result of someone’s provocation or instigation. As a result, determining whether the act was culpable homicide or murder is a matter of fact.

All ‘murders’ are ‘culpable homicides,’ yet not the reverse way around. ‘Culpable homicide’ without ‘exceptional qualities of murder’ is a fault crime that doesn’t add up to kill. The IPC sensibly perceives three levels of at-fault crime to decide a discipline proper to the gravity of this overall offense. The first is guilty murder in the primary degree, which is the most genuine sort of chargeable manslaughter and is depicted as “murder” in Area 300. The second is alluded to as “second-degree blameable homicide.” The main portion of Area 304 makes this illicit. Then, at that point, there’s what’s known as ‘culpable murder in the third degree. ‘This is the least serious sort of culpable murder, and the punishment for it is likewise the least severe of the three grades punishable under Part II of Section 304.”


As recently expressed, the limit among murder and guilty manslaughter is razor flimsy. The courts have attempted consistently to recognize the two offenses, regardless of the way that the last impact is something very similar, with the goal behind the offense being the most urgent part to consider. The prosecution’s whole case can be based on a solitary point, specifically “intention,” while the protection can annihilate the prosecution’s whole case by building up “no intention.”

Meghna Prusty - The Law Communicants

Meghna Prusty

Student at The Law College, Utkal University

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