Punishment for Culpable Homicide not Amounting to Murder - Section 304

Punishment for Culpable Homicide not Amounting to Murder - Section 304

Chapter XVI of the Indian Penal Code deals with Offences Affecting the Human Body. It includes Culpable Homicide, Murder, Culpable homicide causing the death of a person other than the person whose death was intended, Causing death by negligence, Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Abetment of suicide, Dowry death, etc. this chapter contains Section 299 to 377. This blog deals with Section 304 of IPC.


To understand this Section we need to first explain Culpable Homicide and Murder. As per Section 299 Whoever causes the death of a person by doing any act with the intention of causing death, or with intention of causing bodily harm which will cause death, or with the knowledge that it is likely by such act to cause death has committed the offence of Culpable Homicide. For eg. X knows that Y is behind the bush. A doesn't know this. X intends to cause Y’s death, which induces A to fire at the bush. A fires and kills Y. Here A is not guilty of any offence, but X has committed an offence of Culpable Homicide.  


Consult the best criminal lawyer now


As per Section 300 Culpable Homicide amounts to Murder when:

  1. The act is done with the intention of causing death and death is caused, or

  2. It is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury that the offender knows will cause death to the person who is harmed, or

  3. If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or

  4. The person committing the act knows that it is dangerous and in all probability will cause death or bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act and taking risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.  


Section 304 classifies the offence into two circumstances such as:

  1. Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death

  2. If the act is done with the knowledge that is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death 

When Culpable Homicide is not Murder:

Culpable Homicide is not murder, if the offender loses his self-control by the grave and sudden provocation, and causes the death of a person who provoked him or any other person 

  1. That provocation should not be voluntarily provoked by the offender as an excuse for killing or harming any person.

  2. That 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 a public servant.

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

For eg. Y gives sudden and grave provocation to A. A on this provocation, fires a pistol at Y, who never intended to kill Z, who was near him, but out of sight A kills Z. Here has not committed murder, but a merely culpable homicide.

Essentials of Section 304 IPC

  1. The element of intention is mandatory. Intention means that there should be an expectation of consequences in question. It doesn't involve premeditation or thinking about killing a person beforehand. If a person performing some act either expect death to be the consequences, or expects a dangerous bodily injury likely to cause death, or knows that death is likely to consequence thereof and in each case, death ensues. From the first two instances, the intention of a person is known and from the last instance, the knowledge of death is known to the person.

  2. The element of knowledge is mandatory in this case for applicability of Section 304 IPC. Knowledge is a strong word and it imports certainty and not merely probability. The nature and number of injuries as well as their location and the weapon used lead to conclude that to a reasonable person, an attack of the nature launched by the appellant on the victim could cause his death. It would also be difficult to delve into the mind of attacker to decode his intention or knowledge for the consequences of his actions can certainly be attributed to him.

Punishment of Section 304 IPC 

  1. Culpable homicide not amounting to murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with intention of causing death- Imprisonment for life or 10 years and Fine.

  2. If an act is done with the knowledge that is likely to cause death but without any intention to cause death- 10 Years or Fine or Both.


Nature of Section 304 IPC

  1. Offences under this Section may be Cognizable which means the offences for which a police officer can arrest a person without a warrant.

  2. Offences under this Section may be Non-Bailable. This means that the grant of bail is not a matter of right. Here the accused will have to apply to the court, and the Court will decide whether to grant bail or not.

  3. These offences are Non-Compoundable which means there cannot be a settlement made by the complainant and the accused to drop the charges laid down. 

Section 304 IPC can be tried in the Court of Session. The Ministry concerned with this offence would be the Ministry of Home Affairs and the department in this offence is the Department of Internal Security.

Ingredients of Section 304 IPC

  1. The act should have been done with the intention of causing death or bodily injury.

  2. The act should have been done with the knowledge that is likely to cause death or bodily injury. 

Some Famous Judgements:

  1. Hopna Kisku and another V/s  State of Bihar, 2006

The accused were charged under Section 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, on an allegation that the accused caused injury to Matal Kisku who died later at the hospital. Each one of them was sentenced to imprisonment for life under this Section. The facts of the case were that there was a dispute pending regarding the enjoyment of a Mahua tree as both were claiming to be the owners of the said tree. As a result of this quarrel, the deceased was beaten with lathi by the accused and injuries had taken place. later on, he was taken to the hospital. While undergoing treatment at the hospital he died. An FIR was registered and the investigation was conducted. The bamboo lathi was seized. The Court held that as per the facts above showed that there were a free fight and the deceased suffered injuries and in absence of any definite evidence as to who caused the injuries leading to the death of Matal Kisku, as we were unable to pin down the accused as guilty under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, as there is no evidence as to who caused the fatal injury during a quarrel. Therefore the accused were guilty under Section 324 and 34 of IPC, for which each one of them is sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of six months.

  1. Sohanlal Petitioner V/s State of Madhya Pradesh, 2015

The facts of the case were that the petitioner was driving a bus of Maa Sharda Travels and as a result of his rash and negligent driving, committed an accident at Khandwa-Indore road near village Gavalu resulted in a head-on collision with Maruti Van. Due to this accident, three Maruti van passengers and two passengers of the bus had expired. The learned counsel for the petitioner in one of the cases such as State of Punjab v/s Balwinder Singh erred in framing the charge under Section 304 of IPC in a matter which is basically and normally a case of a road accident. The statements of some witnesses were recorded and said that the petitioner was under influence of the liquor at the time of driving. He was again and again requested by the passengers to drive slowly as it was injuring them. He drove the vehicle in a hurry so that the behind bus could not overtake him. It is pertinent to note that the Hon’ble Apex Court never made a distinction between the offence under Section 304 IPC as compared to the case of road accident under Section 304A. Prima facie in this case material is available to show the element of knowledge and the rest of the things are a matter of appreciation of evidence. No good ground is made to set aside the order framing of charges under Section 304 of IPC against the petitioner.


Get in touch with the best criminal lawyer


How can you file/defend your case for Section 304 of IPC?

  1. Since Section 304 IPC is a Cognizable Offence, the victim should first go to the police station and file an FIR which is free of cost.

  2. The police will then investigate the matter and might arrest the accused if they find enough proof. If evidence is not found the case will not proceed further.

  3. After investigation, a charge sheet will be prepared in which all the records will be mentioned.

  4. The case will then be taken to court where both the parties will be heard through their lawyers and the judgment will be given.


This author of this beautiful blog is Ms. Kinnari Bhatt, LLB.- 3rd Year student, Jitendra Chauhan College of Law
Offence Punishment Cognizance Bail Triable By
Culpable homicide not amounting to murder, If act by which the death is caused is done with intention of causing death, etc. If act is done with knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, etc. Imprisonment for Life or 10 Years + Fine 10 Years or Fine or Both Cognizable Cognizable Non-Bailable Non-Bailable Court of Sessions Court of Sessions
Offence Culpable homicide not amounting to murder, If act by which the death is caused is done with intention of causing death, etc. If act is done with knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, etc.
Punishment Imprisonment for Life or 10 Years + Fine 10 Years or Fine or Both
Cognizance Cognizable Cognizable
Bail Non-Bailable Non-Bailable
Triable By Court of Sessions Court of Sessions

BOOK A SERVICE




Consult a Lawyer Now