Culpable homicide: India

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Introduction

The Times of India

May 6, 2015

The word 'homicide' came from the Latin terms, meaning killing of a human being by a human being is homicide.

Culpable Homicide is defined by section 299 of the Indian Penal Code. According to the section 299 of IPC 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.

The essential elements of the offence of culpable homicide are as follows -

i) that death of a human being was caused ;

ii) by an act with the intention of causing death ; or

iii) by an act with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death ; or

iv) by an act with the knowledge that the act was likely to cause death . Without one or other of these elements an act , though it may be in it's nature criminal and may occasion death , will not amount to the offence of culpable homicide .

Section 299 defined Culpable Homicide in simple way. Culpable homicide are of two kinds:

I. Culpable homicide amounting to murder.

II. Culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Culpable homicide is the Genus, and murder is the Species.

All murder are culpable homicide but not vice-versa. Section 299 cannot be taken to be definition of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Culpable homicide is the genus, section 300 defines murder which means murder is the species of culpable homicide.

It is to be noted here that culpable homicide not amounting to murder is not defined separately in IPC, it is defined as part of Murder in the section 300 of IPC.

Section 300 - 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

Culpable Homicide is not amounting to murder: Exception 1 to 5 of s300 of IPC defines conditions when culpable Homicide is not amounting to murder:

I. Provocation.

II. Right of private defense.

III. Public servant exceeding his power.

IV. Sudden fight.

V. Consent.

Exception-

1-culpable homicide is not amounting to murder if the offender, whilst deprive of self control by grave and sudden provocation, caused the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any person by mistake or accident.

The above exception is subject to the following provisions:- The provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.

2.The provocation is not given by anything done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant in the lawful exercise of the powers of such public servant.

3. The provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defense.

Culpable homicide and murder

The Times of India, July 1, 2011

Dilution of charge a common occurrence

Mumbai: The Neeraj Grover murder case is not the first case where charges were diluted. A case in Delhi of a custodial death led to a policeman being charged with murder but during the trial he was found guilty of only culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He was acquitted of the murder charge.

In Mumbai a few months ago, the Bombay HC offered relief to a woman who had killed her minor daughter's alleged rapist — a relative. The HC, within two months of the lower court sentencing her to life imprisonment for murder, not only reduced her sentence to five years’ imprisonment but also held her guilty of a less grave culpable homicide notamounting to murder.

The victim had come home drunk and tried to rape the woman’s seven-year-old child. When no amount of persuasion could dissuade him, the mother picked a spade and hit him to save her child. The HC held that it was not a premeditated act of murder and scaled it down.

In one high-profile case it was a charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which was in fact reduced to a charge of negligence. Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of former navy chief in 2009 received a reprieve when the Delhi HC let him off the charge of culpable homicide and reduced his jail term from five to two years.

Murder different from culpable homicide

The distinction between murder — the gravest offence in law — and culpable homicide not amounting to murder is so fine that it sometimes confounds even the keepers of law. Under the India Penal Code, culpable homicide not amounting to murder is the act of causing death with the intention of causing death or with the intention of causing such bodily injury that is likely to cause death or even with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause death. Culpable homicide is broadly put into two categories: (a) Acts done with the intention to kill and (b) With a knowledge that it would kill. The first part is graver and punishable under Section 304 (I) with up to ten years jail or life imprisonment. The second attracts only up to ten years jail. Both types of culpable homicide not amounting to murder are considered less grave than murder. Under Section 302 of the IPC, murder is punishable with either life imprisonment or death sentence. For an act to be a murder, the person committing it absolutely needs to have the intention of causing death or causing such injuries that he knows are likely to kill the person on whom they are inflicted even in the ordinary course of nature. TNN

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