Culpable Homicide (Section 299 and 300)

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Homicide is derived from the Latin words’ homo, which means man, and cedere, which means to cut or kill. Culpable homicide is defined as death caused by the commission or omission of a human act. Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code of 1872 addresses culpable homicide. Under section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, 1872, the term culpable homicide is further classified into two categories: culpable homicide not amounting to murder and culpable homicide amounting to murder. The ingredients of culpable homicide include both physical and mental components.

Elements of Culpable Homicide

Death of a living person - According to Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, 1872, death refers to the death of a human being. Although the death of an unborn child does not constitute culpable homicide, the death of a living child will undoubtedly constitute culpable homicide amounting to murder.

Action or omission - The accused's actions, such as poisoning, striking, drowning, and so on, should have resulted in the death of the victim. Dying as a result of old age or illness does not constitute culpable homicide.

Intention - The term "intention" refers to the accused's knowledge or expectations of the consequences of his actions. If a person is charged with doing something that has the potential to be extremely harmful, the intention is derived from the accused's actions and the facts of the case.

Knowledge - Knowledge is a strong word that provides assurance rather than a chance. Knowledge is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to charge someone with culpable homicide. The term 'knowledge' in this context simply refers to a person's understanding of his actions and the consequences of those actions (which is likely to cause death).

The probability of causing death - The accused will be prosecuted under culpable homicide (not amounting to murder) even if the accused's intention was not to cause death by using unreasonable force highlighting the repercussions, which had a probability of causing death.

Punishments for Culpable Homicide

Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1872, discusses the punishment of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The severity of the punishments under this section is determined by two factors: the intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm with the possibility of causing death, and the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death. The penalty for culpable homicide ranges from life imprisonment to a term of imprisonment that can be extended to ten years with the imposition of a fine. If the act or conduct is done with the prudent knowledge of the repercussions, but the element of intent to cause death is missing, the punishment could range from imprisonment to ten years in prison, a fine, or both. The offences under the prospect of Section 304 of IPC is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by Court of Session.

Section 300 of IPC

Section 300 of the IPC deals specifically with murder, as well as culpable homicide amounting to murder. The spectrum of culpable homicide focuses specifically on two elements: intent and knowledge of the conduct. However, if a man intentionally inflicts enough bodily injury in the ordinary course of his nature to cause death, he will be charged with murder under Section 300 of the IPC. The probability of death is higher in the case of murder than in the case of guilty murder.

Elements of Murder

Acts committed with the intent to kill: The ingredient of murder deals with any action or conduct, including illegal omission, committed with the intent to kill a living person. This falls under the purview of culpable homicide amounting to murder. A culpable homicide amounting to murder is defined as an act committed with the intent to cause death. Intentional bodily harm despite knowing the consequences of death: The second element of murder is the intentional bodily injury caused by a person who has adequate knowledge of the consequences of death from that grievous injury.

Such acts committed under this element are also considered culpable homicide amounting to murder. The offences covered by this second element are specifically focused on: Intention and knowledge of the consequences of the injury.

The key component of the bodily injury caused is intent: The third element specifies that the intention to cause and actual infliction of the same grievous bodily injury resulting in the person's death is sufficient to vindicate the subjective matter. Further investigation into the accuser's intent or knowledge of the consequences of his actions is not required.

Action likely to cause death without intent: The fourth element addresses spontaneous actions that occur without any intention of causing bodily harm to anyone. Such actions are covered by Section 300 of the IPC. However, the act mentioned in the fourth element must be followed by knowledge that the act is dangerous enough to cause death or bodily injury, which may result in death.


Any event or action carried out with the intent of causing death or grievous bodily harm, ultimately resulting in death, and satisfying the elements of both physical and mental requirements would directly impose liability or punishment on the person responsible for such event or action. The Genus is culpable homicide, and the Species is murder. All murders are culpable homicide, but not the other way around. Section 299 is frequently misunderstood as the definition of culpable homicide that does not amount to murder, but it is merely a genus.

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