The differentiating issue between homicide and culpable homicide isn’t homicide

The differentiator between murder and culpable murder that is not the same as the murder written by Shatakshi Kakkar, a student at Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA



In the present case, after a quarrel with her sister-in-law, the applicant left the house with her three minor children and jumped into the well. After a while she was found at the edge of the well and her three children were found dead in the well by some villagers. Although there is no eyewitness to show that the applicant jumped into the well herself, her own testimony, together with that of her husband and sister-in-law, is conclusive evidence that she jumped into the well herself. The court found her guilty of Section 300 murder, but no clause was ruled. As a result, this appeal is being brought to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.


The question before the Court was to decide whether or not the applicant was guilty of the murder (section 300 IPC) of her three children and of attempting suicide (section 309 IPC).


The trial judge found her guilty under Section 300 of the Indian Criminal Code in the following case, but failed to provide the clause under which she was charged. When the matter came before the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the judge ruled that Gyarsibai should be found guilty under Section 300 Section 4. The other three sections of section 300 i.e. 1, 2 and 3 deal with cases where a party has been murdered and is done with the “intention” to do so. In the present case, however, it is clear that Gyarsibai has no intention of murdering her children and therefore she cannot be held liable under any other clause of Section 300.

The point of contention here is whether she should be charged under Section 299 of the IPC, which deals with “culpable murder”, or under Section 300 (4), which deals with “murder”. The third subsection of section 299 states that if death is caused, “knowing that by such an act it is likely to cause death” is called “culpable murder” and section 300 (4) states that a person is guilty of murder if he knew that his or her act was “immediately dangerous” and that the act was committed “without excuse for the risk of death or injury”. In the present case, it is clearly stated by facts and evidence that Gyarsibai should be considered a sane person and any sane person “knows” that jumping in the well will only lead to death. In addition, no solid evidence has been found or revealed to suggest that jumping in the well with her children was the only way to save yourself from harassment by her sister-in-law, so the essential element is “not having a valid excuse” also ticked and therefore she is rightly liable according to § 300 para. 4 IPC.

Furthermore, the facts and evidence are straightforward to hold Gyarsibai accountable for the suicide attempt as well. However, the judges found that the Section 302 punishment for murder was too severe for her, so they only granted her a prison sentence of just 6 months under Section 309, i.e. attempted suicide.


So, both by this case and by the case of Kaiser against Dhirajia [ILR (1940) All 647] The differentiating factor between § 299 (3rd part) and § 300 Paragraph 4 is emphasized. While both sections focus on the “knowledge” of the defendants, there is a slight difference between them. The “knowledge factor” sets it apart from the rest of Section 299 and all of the other 3 sections of Section 300, but what differs from each other is the phrase “without apology for the risk of causing death or such injury”. This sentence of Section 300 states that the defendant did the erroneous act that he knew would cause either the death of the victim or grievous bodily harm without excuse or valid reason. He could have resorted to some other means, but still chose that particular act. On the other hand, while under Section 299 the defendant knows that his act is dangerous and is likely to lead to the death of the person concerned, he does so because they have no choice but to carry out this act.

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