Culpable Homicide and Murder by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ


The word homicide has been derived from the Latin word ‘homo’ which means a man, and ‘caedere’ which means to kill or to cut. Thus, homicide means killing a person. Not all cases of human killings are blameable on other persons. For example, killing in self-defence, killing in an accident without any criminal intention are human killings that are not done purposely. Thus, there is a system to distinguish between lawful and unlawful homicide. In this article we will discuss about culpable homicide in detail.

Culpable Homicide

Culpable means blameable and homicide as we discussed earlier, means killing of a person. Therefore, culpable homicide means blameable killing of a person.

Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder:

Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code says, “Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of Culpable Homicide.”

Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code states culpable homicide will be considered as murder

  1. If the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.

Exceptions: When culpable homicide does not amount to murder

  1. Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender causes the death of the other by accident or on sudden provocation that results in the absence of self-control.
  2. Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender in good faith exercises his right of private defence and exceeds the power given to him by law causing the death of the person against whom he is exercising such right of defence without premeditation, and without any intention of harming him more.
  3. Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender is a public servant or is aiding a public servant acting for the purpose 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 any malice towards the person whose death is caused.
  4. 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’s having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
  5. 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.


All murders are culpable homicides but not all culpable homicides are murders. Both the terms have a fine line of difference between them that confuses most of the people. The major difference between the two terms lies in the degree of intention of offenders. The ‘intention’ and ‘knowledge’ of any act itself are sufficient for the courts to decide whether an act should be considered as culpable homicide or murder.

Written by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ

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