Chapter 16 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with the offences against the human body. It covers all the aspects of human life by distinguishing it in different kinds of offences. One of such offences is culpable homicide, defined under section 299 of IPC.
The killing of a human being or taking another person’s life is considered the most heinous crime in this world. And this is how the general meaning of the word culpable homicide is derived.
To understand it better, let us divide the word culpable homicide into two: culpable and homicide.
Culpable means blameworthy or holding someone responsible for something terrible. Homicide is derived from the Latin words homi and cido. Homi means man, and cido means to cut. Thus, homicide means the killing of a human being by another human being.
Keeping these meanings in mind, let us discuss culpable homicide as per the Indian Penal Code.
What Is Culpable Homicide – Section 299 IPC Explained
Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code defines culpable homicide. It says that when the death of a person is caused by:
- doing such an act which is 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 such an act is likely to cause death,
the person commits the offence of culpable homicide.
Example of Culpable Homicide
X knows Z to be behind a bush. Y does not know it. X, intending to cause or knowing it to be likely to cause Z’s death, induces Y to fire at the bush. Y fires and kills Z. Here, Y may be guilty of no offence, but X has committed the offence of culpable homicide.
Essentials of Culpable Homicide
These are the essentials of culpable homicide as per section 299 of IPC:
- The death of the person must be caused.
- That the death must be caused by the act of another person.
- The act causing death should have been done with either of the following:
- with the intention of causing death, or
- with the intention of causing such bodily injury that is likely to cause death, or
- with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause death.
Case Laws Related to Culpable Homicide
Here is the list of case laws generally read while studying culpable homicide:
Virsa Singh vs State of Punjab (AIR 1958 SC 465): In this case, the Supreme Court held that there must be a direct consequence of the injuries inflicted on the deceased. Therefore, intervening causes must not be independent or unconnected with the injury sustained by the deceased.
Joginder Singh vs State of Punjab (AIR 1979 SC 1876): The Supreme Court held that there has to be a proximate causal link between the two, i.e. death and the act. The death must be a direct consequence of such an act. Source of this case: PSA Pillai’s Criminal Law
Nanku vs State of Punjab (AIR 2016 SC 447): The Supreme Court held that as a general rule, a man is presumed to intend the necessary or natural or probable consequence of his act. Therefore, when a person does an act, it is assumed that he must be aware of the consequences.
Other Provisions Read With Section 299 IPC
The following provisions are read with (r/w) section 299 IPC:
Let us discuss the above sections one by one in detail:
Section 301 IPC: Culpable Homicide by Causing the Death of a Person Other Than the Person Whose Death Was Intended
Section 301 of the Indian Penal Code is better known as ‘Transfer of Malice‘.
Section 301 IPC covers the ambit of culpable homicide in a wider sense. It provides that when a person causes the death of any person whose death he neither intends nor knows to be likely to cause, he commits the offence of culpable homicide. Let us simplify this with the help of examples.
Example: A, with an intention to kill B, shoots with a gun at B, but it hits C, who was standing nearby. In such a case, A would be held liable to kill C under section 301 of IPC, even if he had no intention or knowledge to kill C. And thus, this is transfer of malice that shifted from B to C.
Example 2: X knows Y and Z are hiding behind the bush. Now X fires with a gun with the intention of killing Y, but it kills Z. Here, X is liable under this section due to transfer of malice to Z.
Section 304 IPC: Punishment for Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder
We can simply say that it provides the punishment for culpable homicide. The punishment for culpable homicide has two dimensions, which are if the culpable homicide is caused with intention or with knowledge.
- If caused with intention: Then imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.
- If caused with knowledge: Then imprisonment of either description, which may extend to 10 years or with fine or both.
Section 308: Attempt to Commit Culpable Homicide
Whoever attempts to commit culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description, which may extend to 3 years, or with a fine, or with both.
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