By: Robin Pandey Date:20/February/2022
The concept of lawful homicide or justified homicide is a defence from culpable homicide. A homicide is lawful when there is sufficient evidence to disprove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged doing falls under Mens Rea. The key to this defence is that it was reasonable for the subject to believe that there was an imminent and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grievous hurt to body which is only avoided by the means of force which can lead to the death of the person using such force or the aggressor in legal sense. The distinction between lawful and unlawful homicide depends on whether the offender’s act was intentional, careless or otherwise. In the first case, law will set the culprit free while in the second case he will be held criminally responsible for his criminal act. The Code lists certain situations in which criminal responsibility for homicide is either excused or justified. These situations are listed in Chapter iv of the Code i.e. in Sections 76 to 106 dealing with General Exceptions. These include those homicides which are committed with no criminal intention or knowledge.
Excusable Homicide: A homicide is considered in law to be excused in the following cases :
(i) Section 80: Accident or Misfortune: Where the death is caused by accident or misfortune, and with no criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of a lawful act in a lawful manner, and with proper care and caution.
(ii) Sections 82 to 85: Where the death is caused by a child (immature mind). or a person of unsound mind, or an intoxicated person.
(iii) Where death is caused unintentionally by an act done in good faith, for the benefit of the person killed, when:
(iii A)Sections 87, 88 & 89: The person killed, if a minor or lunatic, his guardian has expressly or impliedly consented to such an act: or
(iii B)Section 92: It is impossible for the person killed or his guardian to (b) signifies consent in time or the thing to be done for the benefit of the person concerned.
Justified Homicide: A homicide is considered in law to be justified, if death is caused:
(i) Section 76: Mistake of fact: by a person who is bound, or by a mistake of fact, in good faith believes himself to be bound by law; or
(ii) Section 79: Mistake of fact: by a person who acts in pursuant to a lawful authority or, by reason of a mistake of fact, in good faith be believes himself so authorised; or
(ii) Section 77: Judicial act: by a judge when acting judicially in the exercise of any power which he possesses, or in good faith he believes that he possesses under the law; or
(iv) Section 78: Order of the Court: by a person acting in pursuance of the judgment or order of a Court of Justice: or
(v) Section 81: Necessity: by a person acting with no criminal intention to cause harm and in good faith to avert other harm to person or property: or
(vi) Sections 100 & 103: Right to Private defence: In certain specified situations, right of private defence of the body/property extends to the voluntary causing of death of the assailant/culprit.