Murder in Indian Penal Code, 1860 By Diksha Dubey @Lexcliq

Introduction

The term “Murder” traces its origin form the Germanic word “morth” which means secret killing. Murder means when one person is killed by another person or a group of persons who have a pre-determined intention to end life of the former person. An offence will not amount to ‘Murder’ unless it includes an offence which falls under the definition of culpable homicide as per the definition of ‘Murder’ under IPC. All murders are culpable homicide but all homicides are not murders. Section 299 and Section 300 of Indian Penal Code deal with murder.

MURDER AS PER SECTION 300 OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE

Section 300 of the IPC it says that Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or—

(Secondly) —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—

(Thirdly) —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—

(Fourthly) —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.

If we analyze the definition under Section 300 of the IPC, culpable homicide is considered as murder if:

  • The act is committed with an intention to cause death.
  • The act is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury for which the offender has knowledge that it would result in death.
  • The person has the knowledge that his act is dangerous and would cause death or bodily injury but still commits the act, this would amount to murder.

INGREDIENTS OF MURDER

  • Causing death: There should be an intention of causing death
  • Doing an act: There should be an intention to cause such bodily injury that is likely to cause death or
  • The act must be done with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause the death of another.

EXCEPTIONS TO SECTION 300 OF IPC WHERE CULPABLE HOMICIDE IS NOT CONSIDERED AS MURDER

Clauses 1-4 of Section 300 provide the essential ingredients, wherein culpable homicide amounts to murder. Section 300 after laying down the cases in which culpable homicide becomes murder, states certain exceptional situations under which, if murder is committed, it is reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under section 304, IPC and not under section 302, IPC.

The exceptions are:

  1. Grave and sudden provocation
  2. Private defence
  3. Exercise of legal power
  4. Without premeditation in sudden fight and
  5. Consent in case of passive euthanasia

SUDDEN AND GRAVE PROVOCATION

If the offender is deprived of the power of self-control due to sudden and grave provocation, and his act causes the death of the person who provoked or death of any other person by accident or mistake.

This exception is subject to a certain proviso:

  • That the provocation is not sought or is voluntarily provoked by the offender to be used as an excuse for killing or causing any harm to the person.
  • That the provocation is not given by anything that is done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant while exercising the powers lawfully of a public servant.
  • That the provocation is not done while doing any lawful exercise of the right of private defence.

ILLUSTRATION

A is given grave and sudden provocation by C. A fires at C as a result of this provocation. A didn’t intend or have knowledge that his act is likely to kill C, who was out of A’s sight. A kills C. A is not liable to murder but is liable to culpable homicide.

WHEN THE PERSON EXCEEDS HIS RIGHT TO PRIVATE DEFENSE

Act of private defence can said to have been exercised, when the act is committed in order to defend oneself from further harm. If the accused intentionally exceeds his right to private defense, then he is liable to murder. If it is unintentional, then the accused will be liable to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

ILLUSTRATION

  • X attempts to flog Y, not in a manner to cause grievous hurt to Y. A pistol is drawn out by Y, X persists the assault. Y believes that he had no way to prevent himself from being flogged by X, Y fires at X. X is liable to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

CULPABLE HOMICIDE IN CASE OF PUBLIC SERVANT

The act is done by a public servant who is acting to promote public justice. If the public servant commits an act which is necessary to discharge his duty as is done in good faith and he believes it to be lawful.

ILLUSTRATION

  • If the police officer goes to arrest a person, the person tries to run away and during that incident, if the police officer shoots the person, the police officer will not be guilty of murder.

SUDDEN FIGHT/RAGE

The sudden fight is when the fight is unexpected or premeditated. Both the parties don’t have any intention to kill or cause the death of another. The fact that which party had assaulted or offered a provocation first is not important.

Punishment

Punishment for murder (Section 302)

The punishment for murder is provided under Section 302 of IPC. Under this section whoever commits murder is punished with:

  • Death
  • Life imprisonment
  • Fine

Punishment for Culpable Homicide (Section 304)

Culpable homicide is not murder if it falls under any one of the five exceptions given under Section 300. It describes the punishments for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, that is:

  • Imprisonment for life,
  • Imprisonment for either description of a term extending up to ten years,

Punishment for murder by life-convict (Section 303)

Life convict is a person who is found guilty of a crime and is sentenced to life imprisonment by the Court. This section provides that if any person commits murder who is sentenced with life imprisonment shall be punishable to death. Section 303 is only applicable to the person who is convicted under section 302 read with Section 34 or Section 302 read with Section 149. Section 303 makes capital punishment necessary for the person who is convicted for life imprisonment commits murder.

It was held by the Court that if a person is released by remission that was undergoing imprisonment for life for murder, is not considered under the sentence of imprisonment for life any longer. If the murder is committed during the period of remission, it will not be considered while giving punishment under Section 303 of IPC. Thus, the accused shall not be given imprisonment for life.

Conviction of a Pregnant Woman

Section 416 of the Cr.P.C., 1973 deals with the postponement of capital sentences given to a pregnant woman. Under this Section, if the pregnant woman is convicted, the High Court can postpone the execution of the sentence or reduce the sentence to life imprisonment.

Under this section, the rights of an unborn child are protected. The main aim of this section is to protect the child from being killed who didn’t make any mistake. The pregnancy should be proved with proper medical examination and reports.

Conviction of a Minor

According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the individuals who were under 18 years of age, when the crime was committed cannot be executed. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was replaced by The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. The amended Act allows the person from 16 to 18 years of age to be tried as an adult if they are found to be liable for any heinous crime like rape and murder.

Conclusion

The Court awards death penalty only in rarest situations only in cases where the accused is a threat to the society the Court understands the value of life. The Court has all the rights and power to reduce the punishment

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