Difference Between Murder And Culpable Homicide - Crime - India (2023)

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The term "Murder" traces its origin form the Germanicword "morth" which means secret killing. Murder meanswhen one person is killed by another person or a group of personswho have a pre-determined intention to end life of the former. Anoffence will not amount to 'Murder' unless it includes anoffence which falls under the definition of culpable homicide asper the definition of 'Murder' under IPC. All murders areculpable homicide but all homicides are not murders. Section 299and Section 300 of Indian Penal Code deal with murder.


The word homicide is supposedly derived from Latin where"homo" means man and "cida" means killing.Thus, homicide means the killing of a man by a man. Homicide can belawful or unlawful. Culpable homicide is punishable by law and isfurther divided into two categories:

  • Culpable homicide amounting to murder
  • Culpable homicide not amounting to murder


Section 300 of the IPC reads as follows: 300. Murder.—Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicideis murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with theintention of causing death, or—

(Secondly) —If it is done with the intention of causingsuch bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause thedeath of the person to whom the harm is caused, or—

(Thirdly) —If it is done with the intention of causingbodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to beinflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to causedeath, or—

(Fourthly) —If the person committing the act knows that itis so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, causedeath or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, andcommits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk ofcausing death or such injury as aforesaid.

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

  • The act is committed with an intention tocause death.
  • The act is done with the intention of causingsuch bodily injury for which the offender hasknowledge that it would result indeath.
  • The person has the knowledge that his act isdangerous and would cause deathor bodily injury but still commits the act, this would amount tomurder.


(Video) Culpable Homicide and Murder | Indian Penal Code | Section 299 and 300

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


  • A shoots B with an intention of killing him. As a result, Bdies, murder is committed by A.
  • D intentionally gives a sword-cut to C that is sufficient tocause death of anyone in the ordinary course of nature. As aconsequence, C dies. Here, D is guilty of murder though he did notintend to cause C's death.


Section 299 of IPC reads as follows:

299. Culpable homicide — Whoever causes death by doingan act with the intention of causing death, or with the intentionof causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or withthe knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commitsthe offence of culpable homicide.

In the case of Reg. v. Govinda ( 1877) ILR 1 Bom342), the accused had knocked down his wife, kept a knee on herchest and gave two to three violent blows with the closed fist onher face. This act produced extraversion of blood on her brain andafterwards, the wife died due to this. The act was not committedwith the intention of causing death and the bodily injury was notsufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Theaccused was liable to culpable homicide not amounting tomurder.

The difference between murder and culpable homicide isintention. If the intention is present the crime is said to becommitted under Section 300 of IPC. If the intention is absent,then the crime is dealt under section 304 of IPC.


Cause of confusion: The thin line is theintention behind the act. All murders are culpablehomicide but the vice-versa is not true. Ever since the IPC wasenacted, this distinction as to which case will fall under whichcategory is a perennial question with which courts are oftenconfronted. On a plain reading of the relevant provisions of theCode, it appears that the given cases can be convenientlyclassified into two categories but when it comes to actualapplication, the courts are often confronted with this dilemma.This confusion often emerges when it is difficult to interpret fromthe evidence whether the intention was to cause merely bodilyinjury which would not make out an offence of murder or there was aclear intention to kill the victim making out a clear case of anoffence of murder. The most confusing aspect is'intention' as in both the provisions theintention is to cause death. Hence, you have to consider the degreeof intention of offenders. If the person is killed in cold-blood orwith planning then it is murder because the intention to kill is inhigh degree and not out of sudden rage or provocation. On otherhand, if the victim is killed without pre-planning, in sudden fightor in sudden anger because of somebody's provocation orinstigation, then such a death is called culpable homicide. Hence,whether the act done is culpable homicide or murder is a questionof fact.

Distinguishing between the two: The distinctionbetween the two was aptly set forth by Sarkaria J., in State ofA.P. v. R. Punnayya,((1976) 4 SCC 382) "In the scheme of thePenal Code, 'culpable homicide' is genus and'murder' its specie. All 'murder' is 'culpablehomicide' but not vice versa. Speaking generally 'culpablehomicide' sans 'special characteristics of murder' isculpable homicide not amounting to murder. For the purpose offixing punishment, proportionate to the gravity of this genericoffence, the IPC practically recognises three degrees of culpablehomicide. The first is what may be called, culpable homicide offirst degree, this is the gravest form of culpable homicide whichis defined in section 300 as 'murder'. The second may betermed as 'culpable homicide of the second degree'. This ispunishable under the 1st part of Section 304. Then, there is'culpable homicide of the third degree'. This is the lowesttype of culpable homicide and the punishment provided for it isalso the lowest among the punishments provided for the threegrades, punishable under Part II of Section 304."


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

The exceptions are:

(Video) Culpable Homicide vs Murder - What is the difference between them? Haryana Civil Judge Exam, HPSC J

  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


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

This exception is subject to a certain proviso:

  • That the provocation is not sought or is voluntarily provokedby the offender to be used as an excuse for killing or causing anyharm to the person.
  • That the provocation is not given by anything that is done inobedience to the law, or by a public servant while exercising thepowers lawfully of a public servant.
  • That the provocation is not done while doing any lawfulexercise of the right of private defence.


A is given grave and sudden provocation by C. A fires at C as aresult of this provocation. A didn't intend or have knowledgethat his act is likely to kill C, who was out of A's sight. Akills C. A is not liable to murder but is liable to culpablehomicide.


K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra, 1961 (AIR 1962 SC605):

In this case, the Supreme Court had extensively explained thelaw relating to provocation in India. It was observed by thecourt:

  • The test of "sudden and grave provocation" is whethera reasonable man, who belongs to the same society as the accused,is placed in the situation in which the accused was placed wouldhave been so provoked as to lose his self-control.
  • Under certain circumstances, words and gestures may also leadto sudden and grave provocation to an accused, so as to bring hisact under an exception.
  • The mental background of the victim can be taken intoconsideration, taking account of his previous act to ascertainwhether the subsequent act leads to sudden and grave provocationfor committing the offence.
  • The fatal blow clearly should trace the influence of passionthat arises from the sudden and grave provocation. It should not beafter the provocation has cooled down due to lapse of time,otherwise, it will give room and scope to the accused for alteringthe evidence.


In this case, it was held by the Supreme Court that constantharassment might deprive the power of self-control, amounting tosudden and grave provocation.

(Video) Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide Sec 299 & 300 IPC – Lecture Series By Rakesh Kapoor


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


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


In this case the landlord was trying forcefully to evict theaccused. The accused killed the landlord while exercising his rightto private defense. There was no fear of death to the accused asthe deceased was not holding any deadly weapon that could havecaused grievous hurt or death of the accused. The deceased had nointention to kill the accused, thus, the accused exceeded his rightof private defence. The accused was liable to culpable homicide notamounting to murder.


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


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


In this case the appellant was the constable of RailwayProtection Force, while he was on duty, he killed a firemanunintentionally, while he was firing bullet shots to catch thethief. The constable was entitled to benefit under thissection.

(Video) Murder V/S Culpable Homicide


The sudden fight is when the fight is unexpected orpremeditated. Both the parties don't have any intention to killor cause the death of another. The fact that which party hadassaulted or offered a provocation first is not important.


In this case the appellant was extremely angry when he got toknow that his calf had come to the deceased place. The appellantstarted abusing the deceased, when the latter tried to stop him,the appellant fired at the deceased. The deceased was unarmed atthat time, thus, the appellant had an intention to kill thedeceased, hence, he was held liable to murder.



Whoever commits murder shall be punishable with death, orimprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.


Culpable homicide is not murder if it falls under any one of thefive exceptions given under Section 300. For culpable homicide notamounting to murder, Section 304 of IPC describes the punishmentsas:

  • Imprisonment for life or
  • Imprisonment for either description of a term extending up toten years and/or
  • Fine.


For a doubt to stand in the way of conviction of guilt it mustbe a real doubt and a reasonable doubt. If the data leaves the mindof the trial judge in doubt, the decision must be against the partyhaving the burden of persuasion. If the mind of the adjudicationtribunal is evenly balanced as to whether or not the accused isguilty, it is its duty to acquit the accused.


Rarest of the rare case is the principle enshrined in BachanSingh v. State of Punjab (1980) (2 SCC 684) which limits thevast discretion of the court in imposing death penalty. Death as ahighest punishment was removed from being a general rule to beingawarded only in exceptional circumstances and that too afterrecording the special reason for imposing the highest punishmentwhich cannot be reverted under any circumstance after itsexecution. The phrase "rarest of the rare" case stillremains to be defined while the concern for human life, the normsof a civilised society and the need to reform the criminal hasengaged the attention of the courts. The sentence of death has tobe based on the action of the criminal rather than the crimecommitted. The doctrine of proportionality of sentence vis-a-visthe crime, the victim and the offender has been the greatestconcern of the courts.

(Video) The Technique of Understanding Culpable Homicide and Murder - Differences


As discussed above, there is a thin line between Murder andCulpable Homicide. The courts have time and again taken efforts todifferentiate between the two offences the end result of the twobeing same, intention behind the offence being the important factorof consideration. The entire case of the prosecution can be basedon a single point i.e. "intention" and in the same waythe entire case of the prosecution can be destroyed by the defenceby proving "no intention".

The content of this article is intended to provide a generalguide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be soughtabout your specific circumstances.


What is the difference between culpable homicide and murder? ›

It all comes down to a person's Mens Rea, or "guilty intention." If a person intentionally kills someone, it is considered murder, but if a person never planned to kill someone or didn't know they were going to, that is considered a culpable homicide.

What is culpable homicide case law in India? ›

Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code deals with Culpable Homicide and it is stated as follows – “Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death , or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of Culpable Homicide.”

When culpable homicide is not a murder? ›

-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's having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.

What is an example of culpable homicide? ›

Example of Culpable Homicide

X, intending to cause or knowing it to be likely to cause Z's death, induces Y to fire at the bush. Y fires and kills Z. Here, Y may be guilty of no offence, but X has committed the offence of culpable homicide.

Is every murder culpable homicide? ›

All Murders Are Culpable Homicides But All Culpable Homicides Are Not Murder. In the scheme of the Penal Code, culpable homicide is genus and murder its specie. All murder is culpable homicide but not vice-versa. Section 299 and Section 300 IPC deal with the definition of Culpable Homicide and murder.

What are the three types of culpable homicide? ›

In the Criminal Code, homicide is classified as either culpable or non-culpable. A non-culpable homicide is not an offense and includes justified uses of force by police or military as well as self-defense by civilians. Culpable homicide has three categories: murder, manslaughter or infanticide.

What are the 4 elements of culpable crime? ›

In general, a crime consists of four elements: a mental state, conduct, concurrence, and causation. Crimes are defined by statutes, which are laws passed by legislatures. Statutes set forth the specific elements of each crime.

What are the elements of culpable homicide? ›

homicide, the form of culpability is NEGLIGENCE. The test for Negligence.
The first 3 elements of both crimes are exactly the same in both crimes, namely.
  • The causing of the death.
  • of another human being.
  • Unlawfully.

What makes a homicide culpable? ›

(5) A person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being, (a) by means of an unlawful act; (b) by criminal negligence; (c) by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or.

What are the 4 levels of culpability? ›

Subsection- (2) defines each of the four kinds- of culpability- purpose, knowledge, recklessness and negligence.

How long do you go to jail for culpable homicide? ›

1. On the count of culpable homicide: The sentence imposed is 3 years' imprisonment, wholly suspended for 5 years on condition that within the period of suspension the accused is not found guilty of a crime where there is negligence involving the use of a firearm. 2.


1. What is Culpable Homicide? || Difference between Murder and Culpable Homicide.
(Law ought know)
2. Murder and Culpable Homicide | Difference l Unacademy Law l CLAT 2021 l Kriti Bhatnagar
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3. Murder or Culpable homicide ? | Reg. vs Govinda | Landmark Case Laws | By Tansukh Sir
4. "Naval Officer Case" | Murder or Culpable Homicide? | SC Landmark judgment | Section 302, 304 IPC.
(Legal Abstract)
5. What is the difference between Murder and Culpable homicide? - Adv Manish Chauhan
(Lawtendo TV)
6. Difference b/w Culpable Homicide & Murder || Forensics & Law || Sarvayoni
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