Indian Penal Code (IPC)
Section 300. Murder
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.
(a) A shoots Z with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence. A commits murder.
(b) A, knowing that Z is labouring under such a disease that a blow is likely to cause his death, strikes him with the intention of causing bodily injury. Z dies in consequence of the blow. A is guilty of murder, although the blow might not have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death of a person in a sound state of health. But if A, not knowing that Z is labouring under any disease, gives him such a blow as would not in the ordinary course of nature kill a person in a sound state of health, here A, although he may intend to cause bodily injury, is not guilty of murder, if he did not intend to cause death, or such bodily injury as in the ordinary course of nature would cause death.
(c) A intentionally gives Z a sword-cut or club-wound sufficient to cause the death of a man in the ordinary course of nature. Z dies in consequence. Here, A is guilty of murder, although he may not have intended to cause Z’s death.
(d) A without any excuse fires a loaded cannon into a crowd of persons and kills one of them. A is guilty of murder, although he may not have had a premeditated design to kill any particular individual.
Exception 1.—When culpable homicide is not murder.—Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident.
The above exception is subject to the following provisos:—
First.—That the provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.
Secondly.—That the provocation is not given by anything done in obedience to the law, or by a public servant in the lawful exercise of the powers of such public servant.
Thirdly.—That the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence.
Whether the provocation was grave and sudden enough to prevent the offence from amounting to murder is a question of fact.
(a) A, under the influence of passion excited by a provocation given by Z, intentionally kills. Y, Z’s child. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was not given by the child, and the death of the child was not caus
ed by accident or misfortune in doing an act caused by the provocation.
(b) Y gives grave and sudden provocation to A. A, on this provocation, fires a pistol at Y, neither intending nor knowing himself to be likely to kill Z, who is near him, but out of sight. A kills Z. Here A has not committed murder, but merely culpable homicide.
(c) A is lawfully arrested by Z, a bailiff. A is excited to sudden and violent passion by the arrest, and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was given by a thing done by a public servant in the exercise of his powers.
(d) A appears as witness before Z, a Magistrate, Z says that he does not believe a word of A’s deposition, and that A has perjured himself. A is moved to sudden passion by these words, and kills Z. This is murder.
(e) A attempts to pull Z’s nose, Z, in the exercise of the right of private defence, lays hold of A to prevent him from doing so. A is moved to sudden and violent passion in consequence, and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was given by a thing done in the exercise of the right of private defence.
(f) Z strikes B. B is by this provocation excited to violent rage. A, a bystander, intending to take advantage of B’s rage, and to cause him to kill Z, puts a knife into B’s hand for that purpose. B kills Z with the knife. Here B may have committed only culpable homicide, but A is guilty of murder.
Exception 2.—Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, in the exercise in good faith of the right of private defence of person or property, exceeds the power given to him by law and causes the death of the person against whom he is exercising such right of defence without premeditation, and without any intention of doing more harm than is necessary for the purpose of such defence.
Z attempts to horsewhip A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt to A. A draws out a pistol. Z persists in the assault. A believing in good faith that he can by no other means prevent himself from being horsewhipped, shoots Z dead. A has not committed murder, but only culpable homicide.
Exception 3.—Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, being a public servant or aiding a public servant acting for the advancement 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 ill-will towards the person whose death is caused.
Exception 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 having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
It is immaterial in such cases which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault.
Exception 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.
A, by instigation, voluntarily causes, Z, a person under eighteen years of age to commit suicide. Here, on account of Z’s youth, he was incapable of giving consent to his own death; A has therefore abetted murder.
Act by which the death is caused, to done with intention of cuasing death
(i) Statement by a child witness who was son of deceased, that his father tied hands and legs of his mother and burnt her cannot be discarded on the basis of stray statement in cross-examination where he has stated that when his mother caught fire he was in his grand mother’s house, is fairly reliable on the factum of the incident and the same cannot be discarded, held accused was liable to be convicted; State of Karnataka v. Shariff, AIR 2003 SC 1074.
(ii) Where the extra judicial confession made by the accused admitting the crime of throwing his three minor children into a well was proved and dead bodies of children were also recovered from well, the accused is liable for offence of murder punishable under section 302; Narayana Swamy v. State of Karnataka, 2000 Cr LJ 262 (Kant).
(iii) The establishment of the involvement of the accused in the incident and misgiving of a Barchhi blow to the grandson of the deceased when he tried to go to the rescue of his grand-father, is sufficient to convict the accused under section 300 read with section 34; Banta Singh v. State of Punjab, (1991) Cr LJ 1342 (SC).
(iv) The totality of the injuries caused to the victim clearly supports the finding of both the courts below that the accused/appellants went on belabouring the deceased till he died on the spot. In the circumstances, the contention that the accused did not intend to cause the murder of the deceased cannot be upheld by the Supreme Court; Prabhu v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 1373 (1373-1374) (SC).
(v) Where the accused set fire to the single room hut, in which the deceased was sleeping, after locking the door of the room from outside and also prevented the villagers from going to the rescue of the helpless inmate of the room, it was held that the intention of the accused to kill the deceased was clear and they were liable for murder; Rawalpenta Venkalu
v. State of Hyderabad, AIR 1956 SC 171.
‘And commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death’
Merely causing death, by doing an act with the knowledge that is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability cause death, is not murder. In order that an act, done with such knowledge, should constitute murder, it is necessary that it should be committed without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing the death or bodily injury. An act, done with the knowledge of its consequences, is not prima facie murder, it becomes murder only if it can be positively affirmed that there was no excuse. The requirements of the section are not satisfied by the act of homicide being one of extreme recklessness. It must, in addition, be wholly in inexcusable. When a risk in incurred even a risk of the gravest possible character which must normally result in death, the taking of that risk is not murder unless it was inexcuatble to take it; Emperor v. Dhirajia, AIR 1940 All 486; Gyarsibai w/o Jagannath v. State, AIR 1953 MB 61.
Clause ‘thirdly’ of section 300 distinguished from the second clause of section 299
The difference between the second clause of section 299 and clause ‘thirdly’ of section 300 to one of degree of probability of death resulting from the intended bodily injury. To put it more broadly, it is the degree of probability of death which determines whether a culpable homicide is of the gravest, medium, or lowest degree. The word likely in second clause of section 299 conveys the sense of probable as distinguished from a mere possibility. The words ‘bodily injury ………… sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death’, in clause thirdly of section 300, mean that death will be the most probable result of the injury having rega
rd to the ordinary course of nature; State of Andhra Pradesh v. Rayavarpu Punayya, AIR 1977 SC 45.
Circumstantial evidence is not sufficient to convict accused when possibility of deceased receiving fatal injury by fall cannot be ruled out; State of Rajasthan v. Kamla, (1991) Cr LJ 602 (SC).
Essential of murder
(i) Having regard to the number of injuries inflicted on the deceased it was not possible to uphold the contention that there was no intention to kill; Prabhu v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 1373 (1373-1374) (SC).
(ii) When there was no evidence as to how death came about, evidence relating to charge of murder was held to be insufficient and unacceptable; Kedar Nath v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 989 (SC).
Exception 4: Heat of passion
Mere sudden quarrel would not entitle the accused to seek for Exception 4 to section 300; Samuthram alias Samudra Rajan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997) 2 Crimes 185 (Mad).
Exception 4: Scope and applicability of
To invoke Exception 4 to section 300, four requirements must be satisfied, namely (i) it was a sudden fight; (ii) there was no premeditation; (iii) the act was done in a heat of passion; and (iv) the assailant had not taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel manner… The number of wounds caused during the occurrence is not a decisive factor but what is important is that the occurrence must have been sudden and unpremeditated and the offender must have acted in a fit of anger. Of course, the offender must not have taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel manner. Where, on a sudden quarrel, a person in the heat of the moment picks up a weapon which is handy and causes injuries, one of which proves fatal, he would be entitled to the benefit of this Exception provided he has not acted cruelly; Samuthram alias Samudra Rajan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997) 2 Crimes 185 (Mad).
Where a mutual conflict develops and there is no reliable and acceptable evidence as to how it started and as to who was the aggressor, it will not be correct to assume private defence for both sides. Such a case will be a case of sudden fight and conflict and has to be dealt with under Exception 4 to section 300 of the Code; Januram v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1997) 2 Crimes 582 (MP).
Injuries on vital and non-vital parts of body of the deceased
Infliction of the injury on the vital part of the body with the agricultural instrument by the enraged accused in a sudden quarrel—Held, accused did not cause the injury intentionally; Patel Rasiklal Becharbhai v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1992 SC 1150.
Injury which is likely to cause death and injury which is sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause death
(i) Accused inflicted 18 injuries in the arms and legs of the deceased with a gandasa. None of the injuries was on a vital part of the body of the deceased. The obvious motive was revenge because the deceased’s son had caused a serious leg injury which resulted in the amputations of the leg of P, the son of appellant. The Court held that one of the injuries inflicted by the appellant was on a vital part of the body of the deceased whom the appellant had no intention to kill, at the same time though he had no intention to kill, the appellant must have known that he was inflicting such bodily injuries as were likely to cause death as a consequence of which death did happen. The appellants conviction for murder was accordingly alt
ered to one for culpable homicide; Kapur Singh v. State of Pepsu, AIR 1956 SC 654.
(ii) It was held by the Supreme Court that whether the injury intended by the accused and actually inflicted by him is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death or not, must be determined in each case on the basis of the facts and circumstances. In the instant case, the injury caused was the result of blow with a knife in the stomach which was given with such force that the weapon had penetrated the abdomen and had injured the bowels. According to the doctor the injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Therefore, in the absence of any circumstances to show that the injury was caused accidentally or unintentionally, it had to be presumed that the accused had intended to cause the inflicted injury and the condition of cl. (3) of section 300, I.P.C. were satisfied. Conviction under section 302 was upheld; Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1958 SC 465.
(iii) The appellant had given six blows with a lathi stick on the head of the deceased, one of which fractured his skull. The deceased died three weeks after the incident. The injury which broke the skull had caused a depression in the brain and death was due to brain hemorrhage. It was held that the accused was liable under section 304 for culpable homicide. The Court held that even though the blows were inflicted by the appellant on the head of the deceased with force, the lathi not being an iron rod and the deceased being a young man strongly built the appellant could not under the circumstances be held to have been actuated with the intention of causing the death of the deceased nor do one could think despite the medical evidence that the injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Seeing that he survived for three weeks and looking on the doctor’s admission that an injury of that kind is not incurable; Inder Singh Bagga Singh v. State of Pepsu, AIR 1955 SC 439.
Intention and knowledge
It is fallacious to contend that when death is caused by a single blow, clause thirdly is not attracted and, therefore, it would not amount to murder. The ingredient ‘intention’ in that clause gives clue in a given case whether offence involved is murder or not; Jai Prakash v. State (Delhi Administration), (1991) 1 Crimes 474 (SC).
Proof of sufficiency of the injury to cause death
(i) Where evidence of both eye witnesses reliable and well corroborated by medical and other evidence on record inspires confidence that accused had intention to kill deceased then conviction is liable to be sustained; Robba Ramanna Dora v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2000 Cr LJ 118 (AP).
(ii) Where the ocular evidence is explicit and fully supported by medical evidence and evidence of other witnesses and evidence of witnesses who apprehended the accused after some hours of occurrence with blood stained weapon then absence of proof of motive will not render the entire prosecution case unbelievable, therefore, charge of murder against accused proved beyond all reasonable doubt; Ram Nath Novia v. State of Bihar, 2000 Cr LJ 318 (Pat).
(iii) Where the evidence of eye witnesses regarding assault to deceased by accused persons was truthful, reliable and clearly corroborated by medical evidence and common intention of accused persons to commit murder of deceased also proved therefore conviction under section 300/34 is proper; Ratan Debnath v. State of Tripura, 2000 Cr LJ 237 (Gau).
(iv) Chain of evidence must be complete with fully established circumstances not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of accused. It should be of conclusive nature; Arvind v. State (Delhi Admn.), 1999
(4) SCC 4861: 1999 (3) JT 554.
Provocation must be grave
The test of “grave and sudden” provocation is whether a reasonable man, belonging to the same class of society as the accused, placed in the situation in which the accused was placed would be so provoked as to lose his self-control. (2) In India, words and gestures may also, under certain circumstances, cause grave and sudden provocation to an accused so as to bring his act within the First Exception to section 300. (3) The mental background created by the previous act of the victim may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether the subsequent act caused grave and sudden provocation for committing the offence; Venkatesan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997) 3 Crimes 146 (Mad).
The accused, a naval officer, was charged with the murder of P, a businessman of Bombay, for having illicit intimacy with his wife. On coming to know from his wife about the illicit relationship with the deceased, he went to the ship, took from the stores a semi-automatic revolver and six cartridges on a false pretext, loaded the same, went to the flat of P entered in his bedroom and shot him dead after a heated exchange of words. The court held that the test to be applied is that of the effect of the provocation on a reasonable man; and in applying that test it is of particular importance to consider whether a sufficient interval has elapsed since the receiving of the information which caused the provocation to allow a reasonable man to cool down; K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharasthra, AIR 1962 SC 605.
It is now well settled principle of law that if two views are possible, one in favour of the accused and the other adversely against it, the view favouring the accused must be accepted; Raghunath v. State of Haryana, AIR 2003 SC 165.
With the knowledge that he is likely, by such act, to cause death
(i) In case of murder in which the conclusion of guilt is drawn by prosecution it must be fully established beyond all reasonable doubt and consistent with the guilt of the accused; S.D. Soni v. State of Gujarat, (1991) Cr LJ 330 (SC).
(ii) Legislature had advisedly used the words: “bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause death”. Therefore, from an understanding of the legislative intent of section 300, I.P.C., a culpable homicide becomes murder if the attacker causes an injury which he knows is likely to cause death and, of course, consequent to such injury, the victim should die; State of Rajashtan v. Dhool Singh, AIR 2004 SC 1264.