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When Culpable Homicide Is Not Murder?



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.”


The important elements of Culpable Homicide are:-

1) Causing of death of a human being. 2) Such death must have been caused by an act -

i. With the intention of causing death; or ii. With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death; or. iii. With the knowledge that the doer is likely by such an act to cause death.


Culpable homicide leads to murder (Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code) when:


  1. If the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Therefore, Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being without any justification or valid excuse with a malice intention.


In the scheme of the Penal Code, culpable homicide is the genus and murder its specie. All murder is a culpable homicide but not vice- versa. Murder is an aggravated form of culpable homicide. In murder, the offender has definite knowledge that the act would result in death while as in culpable homicide the knowledge is not so definite. The probability of causing death is higher in murder than culpable homicide.



Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation causes the death of the person who gave the sudden provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident. Unless -


  • that provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.

  • 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.

  • that the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence.




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