Culpable Homicide U/S 299 OF IPC BY AKSHIT GUPTA @LEXCLIQ

Under section 299 of IPC culpable homicide means that whoever causes death or with the intention of causing death or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide. 

In simple words it means that whoever kills someone or try to kill a person with mens rea I.e., guilty mind will be charge under this section. 

For example:  

  • On pit A lays stick and covered with something which make it look like a firm ground hoping someone will fall and die, the B was passing by steps on that stick and directly goes inside the pit and die of serious injuries as the pit wasn’t clearly visible because of the acts of A. 
  • A commands B to fire in a bush. A knows Z is hiding behind the bush but B doesn’t but still he fires a bullet and hit Z and killed him. B may not be charged of culpable homicide but A definitely will be.  

Homicide means killing of human being by lawful and unlawful means. Lawful homicide includes several cases falling under chapter iv of the IPC which deals with general exceptions. Unlawful homicide is : 

  • Murder 
  • Culpable homicide not amounting to murder 
  • Causing death by negligence 
  • Suicide 

Essentials of Culpable Homicide: 

  • Causing death of human being 
  • Such death must be caused by act of human being 
  • The act must have been done with the intention of casing death or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death like shooting a bullet in head 

 

  • Death means death of a human being it doesn’t include death of an unborn child. The provision of culpable homicide not just apply if only that person dies whom the accused wanted to kill it will be decided on the mens rea of accused as to what his intention was. Was his intention being to kill someone by his act not necessarily a particular person he was interested in, if some other person dies in place of the person, he was aiming for it will still be culpable homicide. 
  • Death can be caused in number of ways like poisoning, starving, drowning, or communicating some shocking news etc. Sometimes not doing an act will also be amount to culpable homicide I.e., omitting an act is illegal and hence amount to culpable homicide. 

 For example: 

  • A jailor stopped supplying food to the prisoner as a result of starvation he died in this case the omitting of act is illegal as he stopped supplying food which led to the death of the person.  
  • Another good example can be, A grievously injured B, the father of B I.e. D and B being minor, D didn’t take his son for the medical treatment since he wanted A to be hanged to death as a result of not getting treatment B dies, D will be liable for culpable homicide. 
  • Death can also be caused by communication of words but it is hard to prove as to what was the intention of the person while delivering the statement to another person.   

For example: 

  • A gives choice to B that if he wants to die with instant shot in head or want to die with everyday torture done to him, B kill himself and dies. A will be liable of culpable homicide. 
  • The death caused by the act of the person even if his intention was not to cause death but only bodily injury would still amount to culpable homicide. But the death caused from the act must be direct not too remote that it will be illogical to say that the death is caused by the acts of a person 

For example: 

A hits B with car and B dies of diabetes this is illogical to say and convict A for death of B as the death of B is not caused by the accident.  

In sumer singh case, a smash blow in the head of B which he intended or knew to be likely to cause death of B. A was therefore guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. 

In other case of Naga Po Nyein, the accused smashed the head of B with long wooden handle on the thinner part of head. He was liable not for murder but for culpable homicide as the intention of killing can be derived.  

  • Sometimes even gross negligence can amount to culpable homicide. If a person acts negligently or without exercising due care and caution, he will be held liable. What is important in these cases is that the death must be direct consequence of the action. 

For example: 

A was driving recklessly and on high speed on busy road and hit many pedestrians that negligence will amount to culpable homicide.  

In sreenarayan A struck B head a single blow with a piece of firewood. B fell down bleeding from her nose and become senseless. A and his wife W though he is dead so they set him on fire which caused B death. The high court of Patna ruled out that they were not charged under section 302 as they had no intention to cause death but they were charged under section 304 part II as they acted with gross negligence.  

For the purpose of fixing punishment proportionate of the offence committed under culpable homicide, the IPC recognizes 3 stages as under: 

  • First degree which is the greatest form of offence which is the greatest form of culpable homicide as per section 300 
  • Second degree is punishable under section 304 part 1 
  • Third degree which is the lowest form of culpable homicide punishable under section 304 part II. 

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