Section 299: 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 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.
Explanation 1.-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.
Explanation 2- 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
Explanation 3- 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 that child has been brought forth, though the child may not have breathed or been completely born.
Homicide. – Homicide is the killing of a human being by a human being. It may either be lawful or unlawful. Lawful homicide includes several cases falling under Chapter IV of the Penal Code dealing with General Exceptions.
Unlawful homicide is of the following kinds:
- murder (sec. 302);
- culpable homicide not amounting to murder (sec. 304);
- causing death by negligence (sec. 304A); and
- suicide (sections 305 and 306).
Ingredients. -The following are the essentials of culpable homicide :-
- Causing of death of a human being;
- Such death must have been caused by doing an act;
- The act must have been done:
- 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 the doer is likely, by such act, to cause death.
- Causes Death : -Death means death of human being. It does not include the death of an unborn child, such as a child in the mother’s womb. But in view of explanation 3 it may amount to culpable homicide to cause 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. However, it is not necessary that the person whose death has been caused must be the very person whom the accused intended to kill. The offence of culpable homicide is complete as soon as any person is killed by the accused whose mental state is of the kind mentioned in ingredient no. 3 stated above, i.e., where the accused causes death by doing an act either with the intention of causing death, or with intention of causing such bodily injury which was likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he was likely, by such act, to cause death.
- By doing an Act: None of the endless variety of modes by which human life may be cut short before it becomes in the course of nature extinct, is excluded. Death may be caused by poisoning, starving, striking, drowning, and by a hundred different ways.
Under section 32, words which refer to acts done extend also to illegal omissions, and the word “illegal” is applicable to everything which is an offence or which is prohibited by law, or which furnishes ground for a civil action (section 43). Therefore, death caused by illegal omission will amount to culpable homicide as held in the case of Kesar Singh vs State of Haryana 2008.
Death caused by effect of words : -Death may also be caused by effect of words such as by making some communication to another which caused excitement which results in death although it would be difficult to prove that the person, who spoke the words, anticipated from them an effect which except under very peculiar circumstances and in very peculiar constitutions no word would produce. A with the intention or knowledge aforesaid, relates some exciting or agitating news to B who is in a critical stage of a dangerous illness; B dies in consequence. A will be liable of culpable homicide. Similarly, A with the intention or knowledge aforesaid, gives B his choice whether B will kill himself, or suffer lingering torture; B kills himself by taking poison. A would be liable for culpable homicide. These two illustrations were proposed in the original draft of the Code
- The act must have been done
- Intention to cause death : Intention means the expectation of the consequence in question. When a man is charged with doing an act, of which the probable consequences may be highly injurious , the intention may be inferred for the same by doing of that act.
The existence of intention is not to be inferred unless death follows as a natural and probable consequence from the act. For instance, where death is caused by a blow, which would not cause the death of a healthy person because the person whose death is caused suffered from a disease, it would not be fair to infer intention or knowledge. This is so because in such a case the consequence is not natural or probable consequence of the act done.
A intention also include foresight of certainty.
- With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death. -The intention of the offender may not be to cause death, it would be sufficient if he intended to cause such bodily injury which was likely to cause death. The connection between the ‘act and the death caused by the act must be direct and distinct; and though not immediate it must not be too remote. If the connection between the act and death is obscure or if it is obscured by concurrent causes, or if it is broken by the intervention of the subsequent causes, or if the time gap between the act and the death is too long, the above condition is not fulfilled.
The expression ‘intention to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death’ merely means an intention to cause a particular injury, which injury is, or turns out to be, one likely to cause death. It is not the death itself which is intended, nor the effect of injury? It is not necessary that the consequences of the injury are foreseen, it would be sufficient that there is an intention to cause injury, which injury is likely to cause death.
In Sumer Singh 1941, A, gave blows on the head of B which he intended or knew to be likely to smash the victim’s skull. A would be taken to have known that he was likely to cause the death of B. A was, therefore, guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. In Naga Po Nyein 1933, the accused gave one blow to B with a long wooden handle on the thinner part of the head. He was liable not for murder but for culpable homicide as the weapon could not be said to be a formidable one and the intention to kill could not be presumed.
- With the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death. – Knowledge is a strong word and imports a certainty and not merely a probability. Here knowledge refers to the personal knowledge of the person who does the act. If A, B, C attack M with lathis, the blows being directed at the head of M, they must be fixed with the knowledge that they were likely to cause death.
In Mansel Pleydell 1926, the accused kicked the abdomen of B with such violence as to cause fracture of two ribs and rupture of the spleen which was normal. B died. It was held that the accused knew that the abdomen is a most delicate and vulnerable part of the human body and should, therefore, be presumed to have kicked with the knowledge that by so kicking he was likely to cause death.
In Vineet Kumar Chauhan v. State of U.P.2008, accused and victim were neighbours. The incident in question preceded by altercation between accused and family members of victim. Accused returned to his house in a huff, took revolver of his father and fired indiscriminately towards victims house, victim while trying to close door of his house was hit by the bullet which proved fatal. It was held that accused at best can be said to have knowledge that use of revolver was likely to cause death and hence he is liable to be convicted under Section 299 Cl. (3) and not under Section 300, I.P.C.
Sometimes even gross negligence may amount to knowledge.- If a person acts negligently or without exercising due care and caution he will be presumed to have knowledge of the consequences arising from his act.
What is necessary in such cases is that death must be the direct consequence of the act of the accused. Therefore, where death was because of some other cause of which the accused was unaware, he cannot be held guilty of culpable homicide.
In Luxman Kalu,’ A had gone to his father-in-laws house to fetch his wife. There was some quarrel between A and his brother-in-law B on the question whether his wife should accompany him. During the quarrel A lost his temper and gave one blow with a knife on the chest of B which resulted in his death. It was held that A was guilty under the second part of section 304 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder because death was caused by doing an act with the knowledge that it was likely to cause death.
In the case of Kangla vs State 1898
In this case a person struck with a heavy stick and killed a man, being at the time under the bona fide belief that the object at which he struck was not a human being but something supernatural but through terror , having taken no steps to satisfy himself that it was not a human being , he was held to have committed culpable homicide.
Five Step Enquiry
The Supreme Court in Richpal Singh Meena v. Ghosh,has suggested a five-step enquiry in deciding whether the accused causing death of person should be guilty of culpable homicide under section 299 or should be guilty of murder under Section 300. Whether the act or omission of accused causing death, is culpable homicide or not, can be determined by applying the five step test as follows :-
- Is there homicide?
- If yes, it is culpable or not culpable homicide?
- Is it a culpable homicide amounting to murder (i.e., Sec. 300, IPC or culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304, of IPC can be made out.
- If it is not culpable homicide, then a case under Section 304-A
- If it is not possible to identify the person who has committed the homicide
The Supreme Court explained the scheme of the Penal Code relating to culpable homicide and laid down the law in this regard in its decision in the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. Rayavarpu Punnayya,) and observed:-
“In the scheme of the Penal Code, “culpable homicide” is genus and “murder” its specie. All murders are ‘culpable homicide but not vice-versa.
Speaking generally, ‘culpable homicide’ sans special characteristics of murder, is ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’. For the purpose of fixing punishment proportionate to the gravity of this generic offence, the IC practically recognises three stages of culpable homicide.
- The first is, what may be called culpable homicide of the first-degree.This is the greatest form of culpable homicide, which is defined in Section 300 as murder.
- The second, may be termed as ‘culpable homicide of second degree, which is punishable under Section 304, Part I.
- Then, there is culpable homicide of the third degree, which is the lowest type of culpable homicide and is punishable under Section 304, Part II of IPC.”
304. Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.—Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with 1[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.