Difference between Culpable Homicide and Murder

Difference Between Culpable Homicide (Section 299 of IPC)


Murder (Section 300)

Section 299 Indian penal Code: Culpable Homicide

Whosesoever causes death by doing an act to cause death or to cause bodily injury as it is likely to cause death or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.

The essentials of Culpable Homicide are: –

  1. Whoever causes death: Death means the death of a human being. It does not include the death of an unborn child, but it may amount to culpable homicide to cause the death of a living child if any part of the child has been brought forth. However, it is not necessary that the person whose death has been caused must be the very person whose death was intended.
  2. By doing an act: Death may be caused in several ways as such as by poisoning, starving, striking, drowning, or communicating some shocking news etc. Act here includes illegal omissions. An omission is illegal if be an offence and in some direction is a breach of law.
  3. Intention to cause death: Intention means the expectations of the consequence in question. When a man is charged with doing the act of which the probable consequence may be highly injurious, the intention is inferred from the acts of the accused and the circumstances of the case.
  4. Intending to cause bodily injuries as is likely to cause death – The intention of the offender may not be to cause death, it would be sufficient if he intended to cause such bodily injury which was likely to cause death.
  5. With the knowledge that he is likely by such an act to cause death – Knowledge is a strong word and imports a certainty and not merely a probability. Here, knowledge refers to the personal knowledge of the person who does the act.


Some examples of Culpable Homicide are –

  • A lay stick and turf over a pit, to cause death or with the knowledge that death is likely to be caused. Z believing the ground to be firm treads on it, falls in it and dies. Here A has committed culpable homicide.
  • A kicked the abdomen of B with such violence as to cause a fracture in 2 ribs and rupture of the spleen which was normal due to which B died. It was held that A knew that the abdomen is the most delicate part and vulnerable part of the human body and presumed to have kicked with the knowledge that by so kicking he was likely to cause death.

This can be further explained with some case laws.

  1. Kusa Majhi vs State of orissa 1985 Cr.L.j 1460

The deceased admonished her son for not going fishing with the co – villagers. Infuriated with this accused, the son brought an axe and dealt with the blows on her shoulder and she died. There was no pre-plan of the offence. The blows were not on the neck or the head region. The accused then dealt blows likely to cause bodily injury which was likely to cause death and he dealt blows on the spur of the moment and anger. Therefore, it was held to be a case of culpable Homicide.

  1. Ganesh Dooley Tulsa I.L.R 20 All. 143

A snake charmer exhibited in public a venomous snake, whose fangs he knew had not been extracted to show his skills without any intention to cause harm to anyone, placed the snake on the head of one of the spectators. The spectator trying to push off the snake was bitten and died as the consequence. The snake charmer was held to be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.



Section 300 Indian Penal Code: Murder


Section 300 defines murder, except in the cases of Culpable Homicide if –

  1. If the act by which the death is caused is done to cause death.
  2. If it is done to cause such bodily injuries as the offender knows likely to cause the death of the person whom the harm is caused
  3. If it is done to cause such bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary courses of nature to cause death.
  4. If the person committing the act, knows that is so immediately dangerous that it must in all probabilities cause death or such bodily injuries as is likely to cause death and commits such an act, without an excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such bodily harm.


Ingredients of Murder are: –

  1. Act by which the death caused is done to cause death: When an act is done to cause death, then it is culpable homicide amounting to murder. ‘Act’ includes illegal omission also. Death may be caused by illegal omission as well. It is the action of a person with the clear intention of killing a person.
  2. To cause such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause death: As per the second clause of Section 300, if a person intentionally causes bodily injury, with the knowledge that such bodily injury will cause the death of the person injured, then it will be culpable homicide amounting to murder. In case of offence falling under clause (2) of Section 300, there is first, the intention to cause bodily harm and next, there is the ‘subjective knowledge’ that death will be the likely consequence of the intended injury.
  3. To cause bodily injury to any person –sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death: According to clause (3) of Section 300, it is sufficient that there is the intention to cause the bodily injury that was caused. The subjective factor ends with that. There need be no further enquiry whether the offender has the intention or the knowledge that such bodily injury should be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death
  4. The person committing the act known that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death, or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death: Clause (4) of Section 300 applies to cases of dangerous action without an intention to cause specific bodily injury to any person e.g., furious driving or firing at a target near the public road. However, the act must be accompanied with the knowledge that the act was so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause (i) death, or (ii) such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

Some examples of Murder are: –

  1. A shoots Z to kill him. Z dies in the consequence. A commit murder.
  2. A without any excuse fires a loaded cannon into the crowd of persons and kills one of them. A is guilty of murder

This can be explained further with some case laws:

  1. N. Srikantiah v. Mysore State [AIR 1958 SC 672]

There were as many as 24 injuries on the deceased and of the 21 were incised. They were either on his head, the neck, or the shoulders or the forearms. Since most of the injuries were on vital parts and the weapons used were short, it was held that the intention of causing bodily injuries was established, bringing it under the cover of Section 300.

  1. State of AP vs M Sobhar Babu

Accused A1 And A2 entered the house of the deceased armed to commit robbery. Accused of being overpowered by the deceased caused the knife injury on the abdomen of the deceased. He also caused injury to the sister of the deceased who came to rescue the deceased. Co-accused also caused knife injuries on the legs of the deceased and threatened others with dire consequences. It was held that though the accused came to commit robbery and common intention can be inferred from the circumstances of the case. Intention can be gathered from circumstances as they arise even during the incident. As such the case was the accused will be held for murder.

Section 300 of the Code also mentions 5 exceptions where culpable homicide does not murder:

  • Exception 1: Sudden and grave provocation – Sometimes a person may commit an act that leads to the death of another person due to grave and sudden provocation. Then such a person will be held for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. In such a case the person loses his self-control for a moment and commits such an act.

Essentials of this exception are:

  • There must be a provocation
  • The provocation must be grave and sudden
  • Because of such grave and sudden provocation the offender must have been deprived of the power of self-control.
  • The death of the person who gave the provocation or of any other person by mistake or accident must have been caused.
  • Exception 2: Exceeding the right of private defence- The law contained in this exception is based on the rule that in a case in which 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.

Essentials of these exceptions are:

  • An act must be done in exercise of the right to private defence of person or property
  • The 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 already caused the death.
  • The act must have been done with premeditation and without any intention of causing more harm than was necessary for self-defence.


The main points of difference between culpable homicide and murder are:

  1. Culpable homicide is wider than the term murder. Culpable homicide is therefore considered as the genus while murder is regarded as a species. All murders are culpable homicide, but all culpable homicides are not regarded as murder.
  2. Murder is an aggravated form of culpable homicide.
  3. In murder, the offender has a definite knowledge that the act would result in death while as an inculpable homicide the knowledge is not so definite.The probability of causing death is higher in murder than in culpable homicide.

Difference between culpable homicide and murder

Dhruv Tomar


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