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Offences against Human Life Ss. 299-318

  1. Culpable Homicide [Section 299,301 and 304]

The first offences against human life are culpable homicide. Causing the death of an animal is not murder; it comes under the head of offence of mischief or to cruelty to animals under the cruelty to animals act. Life and death of a human being is a homicide.

There are two kinds of homicide namely lawful and unlawful homicide. 

The cases of lawful homicide fall under general exceptions. For example: when death is caused by accident or in the exercise of the right of private defense of the body. Unlawful homicide: 

  • Culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 299)- it is a less serious offence than murder and it is punishable with death or imprisonment for life. Culpable homicide can be analyzed with the intention of causing death, with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, with the knowledge that he is likely, by such act, to cause death. 
  1. Murder (Section 300) – second offence is offence against human life.

             Culpable homicide can be murder and it is analyzed under:

  1. If the act done with the intention of causing death.
  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 and the bodily injury intended to be afflicted is sufficient, in the ordinary course of nature, to cause death.
  4. If the offender knows that the act causes a dangerous death, or any bodily injury as is likely to cause death and commits such act without any excuses for incurring the risk of causing death or any such injury.

When culpable homicide is not murder (Section 300, Exceptions 1 to 5)

  1. Grave and sudden Provocation (Exceptions 1)

Culpable homicide is not murder, if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, cause the death of the person who gave the provocation 

  • Is not sought or voluntarily provoked as an excuse for killing or doing harm
  • Is not given by anything done
  1. Exceeding right of private defense (Exception 2)

Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, in the exercise in good faith of right of private defense, exceeds the legal limit and causes the death of the person without any intention of doing more harm than necessary.

  1. Public servant exceeding his power

Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender is a public servant and breaks his legal powers and caused death by any act believes by him in good faith, to be lawful and necessary for the due discharge of his duty and without ill will towards the person killed.

  1. Sudden fight (Exception 4)
  • Without premeditation
  • In a sudden fight
  • In the heat of passion
  • Upon a sudden quarrel 
  • Without taking undue advantage
  • Without acting in a cruel manner
  1. Death caused with victim’s consent 

If the consent of death is being caused then, the offence is not that of murder, but a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

  1. Death causing by rash or negligent act (Section 304 A)

Rashness and negligence are not the same thing. A simple negligence cannot be construed to mean rashness. There are degrees of negligence and rashness, and in order to amount to criminal rashness or has been of such a degree as to amount to taking hazard, knowing that the thereby.

Criminal rashness is very a dangerous or a wanton act with the knowledge that it is so and that it may cause injury, but without any intention to cause injury, and knowledge that it will probably be caused. 

Criminal negligence is the culpable neglect or failure to exercise that reasonable and proper care and precaution to guard against injury.

  1. Causing Dowry death (Section 304 B)

In this section:

  • Death of a woman caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within the seven years of her marriage.
  • It is shown that before her death; she was being tortured by her husband subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband, for or in connection with any demand for dowry.

The offence of dowry death is a cognizable and non-bail able offence. 

Important factors of section 304B

  1. The wife should have died because of burns or any bodily injury
  2. Her death should have occurred otherwise than under normal circumstances.
  3. Such death should have taken place within seven years from the date of her marriage.
  4. Soon before her death, she should have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any of his relatives.
  5. Such cruelty or harassment should be for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry.

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