Difference between Culpable Homicide and Murder

416998-murderThe word homicide is derived from two Latin words – ‘homo’ and ‘cido’. Homo means human and cido means killing by a human. Homicide means killing of a human being by another human being. All Murders are culpable Homicides but not all culpable homicides are murder. So, Culpable Homicide is the genus and Murder is the specie. Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines Culpable Homicide while section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines murder.

Ingredients of Culpable Homicide u/s. 299

  1. Intention of causing death
  2. Intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death
  3. Knowledge that the act done is likely to cause death.

Ingredients of Murder u/s. 300

  1. Intention of causing death
  2. Intention of causing such bodily injury which is likely to cause death of the person, and this is known to the offender
  3. Intention to cause such bodily injury as is sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause death of a person

4 Knowledge that the act done is sufficiently dangerous that in all probabilities it must cause death, or cause such bodily injury which is likely to cause death, and the act is done without any excuse to cause death or such bodily injury.

Justice Melvill in the case of R v. Govinda (1876 Bom.) analyzed the difference between culpable homicide and murder as:

Culpable Homicide Murder
A person commits Culpable Homicide if the act by which death is caused is done – A person commits Murder if the act by which death is caused is done –
1. with the intention of causing death. 1. with the intention of causing death.
2. with an intention to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death. 2. with an intention to cause such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause death of the person to whom the harm is caused.

3. with an intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause death.

3. with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause death. 4. With the knowledge that the act is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death.

In Augustine Saldanha v. State of Karnataka LJ 2003, Supreme Court deliberated on the difference of Culpable Homicide and Murder. Supreme Court observed that in the scheme of the Indian Penal Code, Culpable Homicide is genus and Murder its specie. All ‘Murder’ is ‘Culpable Homicide’ but not vice-versa. Speaking generally, ‘Culpable Homicide’ sans ‘special characteristics of Murder is Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder’. For the purpose of fixing punishment, proportionate to the gravity of the generic offence, the IPC practically recognizes three degrees of Culpable Homicide. The first is, what may be called, ‘Culpable Homicide of the first degree’. This is the greatest form of Culpable Homicide, which is defined in Section 300 as ‘Murder’. The second may be termed as ‘Culpable Homicide of the second degree’. This is punishable under the first part of Section 304. Then, there is ‘Culpable Homicide of the third degree’. This is the lowest type of Culpable Homicide and the punishment provided for it is also the lowest among the punishments provided for the three grades. Culpable Homicide of this degree is punishable under the second part of Section 304.

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