Section 300 in The Indian Penal Code
300.Murder.—With some exclusion , culpable homicide is murder,
- If the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
- If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or
- If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or
- If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.
- A shoots Z with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence. A commits murder.
- A, knowing that Z is labouring under such a disease that a blow is likely to cause his death, strikes him with the intention of causing bodily injury. Z dies in consequence of the blow. A is guilty of murder, although the blow might not have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death of a person in a sound state of health. But if A, not knowing that Z is labouring under any disease, gives him such a blow as would not in the ordinary course of nature kill a person in a sound state of health, here A, although he may intend to cause bodily injury, is not guilty of murder, if he did not intend to cause death, or such bodily injury as in the ordinary course of nature would cause death.
- A intentionally gives Z a sword-cut or club-wound sufficient to cause the death of a man in the ordinary course of nature. Z dies in consequence. Here, A is guilty of murder, although he may not have intended to cause Z’s death.
- A without any excuse fires a loaded cannon into a crowd of persons and kills one of them. A is guilty of murder, although he may not have had a premeditated design to kill any particular individual.
Exceptions When culpable homicide is not murder.—
- Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident. The above exception is subject to the following provisos:
- That the provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.
- That 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.
- That the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence. Explanation.—Whether the provocation was grave and sudden enough to prevent the offence from amounting to murder is a question of fact. Illustrations
- A, under the influence of passion excited by a provocation given by Z, intentionally kills. Y, Z’s child. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was not given by the child, and the death of the child was not caused by accident or misfortune in doing an act caused by the provocation.
- Y gives grave and sudden provocation to A. A, on this provocation, fires a pistol at Y, neither intending nor knowing himself to be likely to kill Z, who is near him, but out of sight. A kills Z. Here A has not committed murder, but merely culpable homicide.
- A is lawfully arrested by Z, a bailiff. A is excited to sudden and violent passion by the arrest, and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was given by a thing done by a public servant in the exercise of his powers.
- A appears as witness before Z, a Magistrate, Z says that he does not believe a word of A’s deposition, and that A has perjured himself. A is moved to sudden passion by these words, and kills Z. This is murder.
- A attempts to pull Z’s nose, Z, in the exercise of the right of private defence, lays hold of A to prevent him from doing so. A is moved to sudden and violent passion in consequence, and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was given by a thing done in the exercise of the right of private defence.
- Z strikes B. B is by this provocation excited to violent rage. A, a bystander, intending to take advantage of B’s rage, and to cause him to kill Z, puts a knife into B’s hand for that purpose. B kills Z with the knife. Here B may have committed only culpable homicide, but A is guilty of murder.
- Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, in the exercise in good faith of the right of private defence of person or property, exceeds the power given to him by law and causes the death of the person against whom he is exercising such right of defence without premeditation, and without any intention of doing more harm than is necessary for the purpose of such defence.
- Z attempts to horsewhip A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt to A. A draws out a pistol. Z persists in the assault. A believing in good faith that he can by no other means prevent himself from being horsewhipped, shoots Z dead. A has not committed murder, but only culpable homicide.
- Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, being a public servant or aiding a public servant acting for the advancement of public justice, exceeds the powers given to him by law, and causes death by doing an act which he, in good faith, believes to be lawful and necessary for the due discharge of his duty as such public servant and without ill-will towards the person whose death is caused.
- Culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
Explanation.—It is immaterial in such cases which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault.
- Culpable homicide is not murder when the person whose death is caused, being above the age of eighteen years, suffers death or takes the risk of death with his own consent.
Illustration A, by instigation, voluntarily causes, Z, a person under eighteen years of age to commit suicide. Here, on account of Z’s youth, he was incapable of giving consent to his own death; A has therefore abetted murder.
Section 300 deals with the cases where culpable homicide is murder. Therefore, an offence cannot amount to murder if it falls within the definition of culpable homicide. Murder includes culpable homicide, but a culpable homicide may or may not amount to murder. A case of culpable homicide is murder if it falls within any one of the four clauses of Section 300. In order to ensure justice in a murder trial the court should go by evidence produced before it. It should remain dissociated from heat generated outside court room either through news media or through flutter in public opinion.
- Clause 1-Act by which the death caused is done with the intention of causing death. -As explained earlier in Section 299 act includes illegal omission also. Death may, therefore, be caused by illegal omission as well.
Thus where parents neglect to provide proper sustenance to their children. although repeatedly warned of the consequences and the child dies, it will be murder.
In R. Venkalu, the accused set fire to the cottage in which D was sleeping, locking the door of the cottage from outside so that D’s servants who were sleeping outside might not come for help. He also took active steps to prevent the villagers from rendering any help to the deceased. Here the accused had an intention to kill D.
Where a man stabs another in a vital part, he must be held to have intended to cause death, and if death results either directly from the wound or in consequence of the wound creating conditions which result in a fatal disease, the person inflicting the wound is guilty of murder.
No intention to cause death. – In State of Rajasthan v. Hukam Singh, 2012, accused had himself the taken deceased to hospital. This by itself indicates that he had no intention to commit crime and that too, to give gunshot which would inevitably result in death of victim. Therefore the Supreme Court held that the judgment of acquittal of court below was not perverse and therefore could not be interfered with.
- Clause 2-With the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause death.
In case of an offence falling under this clause the mental attitude of the accused is two-fold.
- First, there is intention to cause bodily harm and
- Secondly, there is the subjective knowledge that death will be the likely consequence of the intended injury.
Here the offender knows that bodily injury intended to be inflicted is likely to cause death of the person. It applies to those special cases where the person injured is in such a condition or state of health that his death would be likely to be caused by an injury which would not ordinarily cause the death of a person in sound health and where the person inflicting the injury knows that owing to such condition or state of health, he is likely to cause the death of the person injured. A case would fall under this clause if the offender, having knowledge that a person was suffering from some disease or was of unsound health, causes hurt to him.
In a case B administered arsenic to D, a boy of 9 years with the object of preventing the father of the boy from appearing as a witness against him. It was held that B was guilty of murder.
À woman of 20 years of age administered dhatura (a poisonous herb) to three members of her family. In this case it was held that the administration of datura was likely to cause death although she might not have administered it with that intention.
In another case a woman administered datura to her husband to save herself from his quarrelsome tongue. He became ill, but did not die. She did not know what the thing administered by her was as it was supplied to her by her lover. It was held that she was guilty under Section 337 as she administered without care an unknown powder, but her lover was guilty under Section 307 read with Section 309.
In Karu Marik v. State of Bihar 2001, the accused gave blow with churra (sharp, cutting weapon) on chest of deceased. On deceased trying to run, accused caught hold of deceased’s hair and threw her on ground and inflicted two more blows on abdomen and back. Injuries inflicted were grievous in nature and dangerous to life which resulted in causing death of deceased. It was held that from injuries caused it is clear that intention of accused was at least to cause such bodily injury as was likely to cause death. Therefore conviction of accused for murder was proper.
In Bavisetti Kameshwara Rao v. State of A.P. 2008, accused was a motor mechanic. Some verbal altercation took place between accused and deceased. Thereupon accused inflicted injury on abdomen of deceased with screw driver.
Injury was 12 cms. deep damaging liver and spleen. Death was caused almost instantaneously. It was held that accused could be said to have intended to cause injury sufficient to cause death. Use of screw driver a common tool of mechanic cannot be said to be innocuous. The plea of accused that incident was sudden and without premeditation is not tenable and accused was held liable to be convicted for murder.
- Clause 3-“Injury sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death”.- Where a man intentionally inflicts bodily injury sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, he would be liable for murder. If the probability of death is very great then the requirements of the third clause are satisfied.
In the case of Mangesh v State of Maharashtra 2011, the Supreme Court stated the circumstances from which it may be gathered as to whether there was intention to cause death. It included circumstances like nature of the weapon; on what part of the body the blow was given; the amount of force; was it a result of a sudden fight orquarrel; whether the incident occurred by chance or was premeditated; prior animosity; grave and sudden provocation; heat of passion; did the accused take any undue advantage; lid he act cruelly; number of blows given, etc.
In Dhupa Chamar v. State of Bihar 2002, the accused intentionally pierced spear in the chest of the deceased which ruptured the blood vessels cutting the aorta and artery. The Supreme Court held that since the injury was sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature, the conviction of the accused under Section 300(3), IPC was proper and needed no interference.
In Rajwant Singh the accused covered the mouth of the deceased with adhesive plaster, tied a handkerchief over the plaster, plugged his nostrils with cotton wool soaked in chloroform, tied his hands and legs with rope and deposited him in a shallow drain with his own shirt put under his head as a pillow. It was held that the acts of the accused were covered by clause 3 of Section 300 and they were guilty of murder.
In Amar Sigh Munna Singh Suryawanshi v. State of Maharashtra,’ the accused, the husband and his wife were living with their children in one room and besides their children only husband and wife were present in house at the time of occurrence. The husband poured kerosene oil on the body of wife and lit fire was proved. Husband failed to prove as to why he was absconding for about a month after incident.
- Clause 4- Knowledge of Imminently dangerous Act : Where it is clear that the act by which the death is caused is so imminently dangerous that the accused must be presumed to have known that it would, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, then unless he can meet this presumption his offence will be culpable homicide, and it would be murder unless he can bring it under one of the Exceptions.
In Gyarsibai’s case 1953, the accused a woman left her house as her life has become unbearable owing to domestic troubles. She went with her three children to a well and jumped in it along with the children. She was saved but the children died. It was held that the accused jumped into the well with the knowledge that it was so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause the death of her children and, therefore, she was guilty of murder.
A placed a bomb in a medical store and gave the people inside three minutes to get out before the bomb exploded. ‘B’ an arthritic patient, failed to escape and was killed. The act of A was an imminently dangerous act Therefore A will be liable for committing murder of B.
In Sahai Ram v. State of Haryana 1983, a constable fired five shots with his rifle at another constable, as a result of which he died on the spot. It was held that having regard to the fact that the accused had used a dangerous weapon like a rifle being a police constable he must have known that it was a dangerous weapon and having regard to the fact that he had fired five shots, one of which was fired after the victim was hit by a bullet and collapsed on the ground, it is impossible to accept the contention that the appellant had not done the act with the intention of causing his death. It is naive to argue that intention was merely to frighten him or to cause him grievous hurt. The case falls under clause 4 to section 300 I.P.C.
In Durga Ram alias Gunga v. State of Rajasthan, the complainant on 9th April, 1998 had organised a jaagran (a night-long prayer of Bhajans) in which around 50 persons had assembled including his seven years old daughter Kamla who went to sleep along with other children close to the place of Jaggran. When the complainant returned home, he found Kamla missing.
Assuming that she might have gone with other relatives, a search was made and Kamla’s dead body was recovered in the neighbouring area. It was found that she was raped and killed by crushing her head with stone. The naked dead body was lying on the spot.
On investigation, the appellant aged around 17-18 years who was deaf and dumb was arrested and a case under Section 302/376, IPC was registered against him. Blood-stained clothes and blood group of the deceased were received at the instance of the accused and injuries were found even on his penis. In all 19 witnesses deposed and circumstances formed a complete chain confirming the guilt of the accused (appellant). He was convicted and sentenced for 10 years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 1000/- for rape and life imprisonment and fine of Rs. 3000/- for murder. Both the sentences were to run concurrently. The High Court confirmed the sentences.
Death in custody. In State of TN v Balkrishna1992, it was held that merely because the death of the person occurred in police custody, an immediate inference of murder could not be drawn against the police.
Grave and Sudden: Cases. Where there is sufficient time for cooling down, there would be no sudden provocation and the act of the accused would be a deliberate one.
Thus in the case of Gyanendra Kumar vs State where the accused after receiving the provocation in a school committee meeting went to his house, brought a gun and thereafter shot chasing fleeing men, his action did not fall within this exception but was an act of murder.
What is critical for a case to fall under Exception 1 to section 300, IPC, 1860 is that the provocation must not only be grave but sudden as well. It is only where the following ingredients of Exception 1 are satisfied that an accused can claim mitigation of the offence committed by him from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder:
- The deceased must have given provocation to the accused.
- The provocation so given must have been grave.
- The provocation given by the deceased must have been sudden.
- The offender by reason of such grave and sudden provocation must have been deprived of his power of self-control; and
- The offender must have killed the deceased or any other person by mistake or accident during the continuance of the deprivation of the power of self-control.
In State of U.P. v. Lakhmi 1998, the accused killed his wife. He saw something lascivious between his wife and other person when he entered house from field. Giving the benefit of Exception I of section 300, I.P.C. and holding the accused guilty under section 304, Part I, I.P.C. the court observed:
“There can be little doubt that if the accused had witnessed any such scene, his mind would have become suddenly deranged. It is not necessary that the husband should have been hot-tempered or hyper sensitive to loose his equanimity by witnessing such scenes. Any ordinary man with normal senses or even sangfroid would be outraged at such a scene.
K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra, 1961:
In this case, the Supreme Court went over the law of provocation in India in great detail.
The court made the following observation: The criteria for sudden and grave provocation is whether a reasonable individual from the same society as the accused would have been so provoked as to lose his self-control in the same position as the accused.
In some situations, words and gestures may cause an accused to be provoked in a way that causes his behavior to be excused.
Exception 2-Exceeding right of private defence.-In order that exception 2 may apply the following conditions must be fulfilled :
- Act must be done in exercise of right of private defence of person or property.
- Act must have been done in good faith.
- The person doing the act must have exceeded his right given to him by law and have thereby caused death.
- Act must have been done without premeditation and without any intention of causing more harm than was necessary in self-defence.
The law contained in this exception is based on the rule that in a case in which the law itself empowers an individual to inflict any harm short of death, it ought hardly to visit him with the highest punishment if he inflicts death.
Cases. – A head constable, failing to obtain a bribe from a gang of gypsies , arrested one of them whereupon the gang turned upon him in a menacing attitude armed with sticks and stones. Before any actual violence was used by the crowd of advancing sypsies, the head constable fired his gun at the crowd when it was about five paces from him and killed one of the gypsies. The constable was held guilty of culpable homicide on the ground that he had unlawfully arrested one of the gypsies, that he had no right of private defence against them, and that their advance did not reasonably cause the apprehension of death or grievous hurt to himself.
In Ram Avtar v. State of U.P.2003, some police constables were in search of an accused to arrest him. The complainant party helped the constables and reached in baithak of a house where accused were sitting. Accused party in order to prevent arrest assaulted complainant party and constables. Constables withdrew soon after receiving injuries but accused continued their assault on complainant party and two members were killed. Body of one person who was shot dead while running away was found outside the house in question.
It was held that the sequence of events shows that assault by accused continued even after danger to life of accused had ceased. Therefore the accused exceeded right of private defence because it is limited to the extent it could have been available against a private individual. It cannot be for common intention to retaliate. Accused was held liable for the offence of murder.
Nathan V. State Of Madras, Air 1973
In this instance, the landlord was attempting to remove the accused by force. While exercising his right to private defense, the accused killed the landlord. The accused had no fear of death since the deceased was not in possession of any lethal weapon that might have caused serious injury or death to the accused. Because the dead had no intention of killing the accused, the accused’s right to private defense was violated. The defendant was charged with culpable homicide but not murder.
Exception 3.- In order that this exception may apply the following conditions must be fulfilled :
- Offence committed by a public servant, or by some other person acting in the aid of such public servant, in the advancement of public justice.
- Public servant or such other person exceeds the powers given to him by law.
- Death is caused by doing an act which he in good faith believes to be lawful and necessary for the discharge of his duty as such public servant.
- The act must have been done without any ill-will towards the person whose death is caused. This exception shall not apply where the act of a public servant is illegal and unauthorised by law.
In Satyavir Singh Rathi v. C.B.I.2011, deceased was a hard core criminal with bounty on his head. Accused police party had fired on deceased without provocation at car killing two innocent persons and injuring one. Incident occurred on account of mistaken identity of deceased. The defence of police party was that deceased had first resorted to firing. No attempt was made by police party to identify deceased even though they had photograph of wanted criminal with them and also close wireless contact with leader of police party. Cross firing by police party was so insensitive and indiscriminate that some shots had hit some of police men. In the light of the above facts it was held that obligation to prove an exception to section 300 is on preponderance of probabilities but it nevertheless lies on the defence. The defence that deceased had first resorted to firing was found unacceptable. It was proved that 7.65 mm pistol was placed in car to create defence. Though police party was acquitted to plant pistol in car on ground that it was not possible to pinpoint culprit who had done so, that pistol had been planted in car has been disbelieved by High Court. It was held that accused police parties was not entitled to benefit of exception 3 to section 300 I.P.C.
Exception 4. -Death caused in sudden fight. -For the application of this exception the following conditions must be fulfilled:
- Death must be caused in a sudden fight.
- Sudden fight must be without any premeditation.
- It must occur in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel.
- The offender must not have taken undue advantage or must not have acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
- It is immaterial as to which party offered the provocation or committed the first assault.
- The fight must have been with the person killed.
By fight here means something more than a verbal quarrel. A fight is a combat between two or more persons whether with or without weapons.
Manoj Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh,” (decided with Ranjeet Singh v. Himachal Pradesh) there was sudden quarrel related to land dispute between parties. Civil dispute was already pending between the two families (parties). During the quarrel, accused person suddenly attacked the deceased which resulted into death after a few days. There was no premeditated plan to attack the deceased. Minor verbal exchange had bloated into sudden physical attack. The conviction of the accused was converted from Section 302 to Section 304, Part II as the ingredients of exception 4 to Section 300 were satisfied, that is :-
- incident happened without premeditation;
- there was a sudden fight;
- it was in heat of passion;
- it had resulted in sudden quarrel; and
- without offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel and unusual manner.
The Supreme Court upheld the alteration of sentence from Sec. 302 to that of Sec. 304.
Difference between Culpable Homicide and Murder:
|Section 299||Section 300|
|A person commits culpable homicide if the act by which the death is caused.||Subject to certain exceptions, culpable homicide is murder if the act by which the death is caused is done.|
|with the intention of causing death or ,||With the intention of causing death or,|
|with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death or||With the intention causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause death of the person to whom the harm is caused.|
|With the intention of causing such bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.|
|With the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death||With the knowledge that the act is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and without any excuse or incurring the risk of causing death or such bodily injury as is mentioned above.|
Section 302. Punishment for murder.—Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or [imprisonment for life], and shall also be liable to fine.