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principles of section 299 and 300



Death by effect of words - Authors of the Code envisaged a possibility where death can be caused by the effect of words . "The reasonable course in our opinion is to consider speaking as an act and to treat A as guilty of voluntary culpable homicide , if by speaking he has voluntary caused Z's death whether his words operated as circuituously by inducing Z to swallow poison or directly by throwing Z into convulsions" - Note M p. 142


word 'act' in all the clauses of Section 299 or Section 300 denotes not only a single act but also a series of acts taken as a single act. When a number of persons participate in the commission of a criminal act the responsibility may be individual that is to say, that each person may be guilty of a different offence or all of them may be liable for the total result produced. This depends on the intention and knowledge of the participants. The subject is then covered by Sections 34, 35 and 38 of the Code


DEATH MUST BE CAUSA CAUSANS NOT CAUSA SINE QUA NON : SOBHA V. EMPORER AIR 1935 OUDH 446

explanation 2 of section s 299 of the Indian Penal Code. This explanation provides that

where death is caused by bodily injury, the person who causes such bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the death, although by resorting to proper remedies and skilful treatment, the death might have been prevented. The evidence of the Civil Surgeon shows that in this case the immediate cause of death was.septic meningitis and that the sepsis was due to the SoBHA neglect in treatment and the application of some village poultice which was found on the left side of the head . My reading of the evidence is that the injury itself was not such as would in the natural course result in death but that the death was caused by the intervening circumstances, namely sepsis consequent to the bad handling of the wound and the application o£ the village poultice. In other words, it seems to me that the case is one of the death being caused by the use of wrong remedies and unskilful treatment rather than one in which the death were caused by the bodily injury, although by resorting to proper and skilful treatment it might have been prevented. EVERY MAN IS PRESUMED TO INTEND THE RATIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ACT:

Dibia vs State on 22 February, 1952

The appellant did in fact inflict the injury on the head of the deceased with an axe which resulted in his death and consequently the appellant was rightly convicted of having caused the death. Causing of a serious injury oh a vital part of the body of the deceased with a dangerous weapon, like an axe, must necessarily lead to the inference that the appellant intended to kill the deceased. He was, therefore, clearly guilty of murder.


With the intention to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death : It means that the person intended to cause the "injury" which resulted in death or was likely to cause death. It is not the death itself which was the intended result of such person. Thus, where bodily injury sufficient to cause death is inflicted its immaterial to go in the question of "intention" to cause death. Difference between "intention to cause death" and " injury likely to cause death" is the degree of criminality but for the purpose of law , it makes no distinction in punishment as object for both is same. Illustration : Where a police officer arrests a thief and mercilessly beats him in his custody , result of which is death of thief . The police officer is guilty of culpable homicide. However , connection between the act and the death caused by the act must be direct and distinct ; and although not immediate it must also not be too remote. Illustration : If a person jumps in the well to save himself from two chasing persons . The act of the deceased was the cause of his death and it was not caused by the chasing persons . (vide Joginder Singh v. state of punjab AIR 1979 SC 1876) Knowledge :

Knowledge and intention should not be confused. Section 299 in defining first two categories does not deal with the knowledge whereas it does in relation to the third category. It would also be relevant to bear in mind the import of the terms "likely by such act to cause death". Herein again lies a distinction as `likely' would mean probably and not possibly. When an intended injury is likely to cause death, the same would mean an injury which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death which in turn would mean that death will be the most probable result.


The distinction between knowledge and intention. Knowledge in the context of Section 299 would, inter alia, mean consciousness or realization or understanding. The distinction between the terms `knowledge' and `intention' again is a difference of degrees. An inference of knowledge that it is likely to cause death must be arrived at keeping in view the fact situation obtaining in each case. The accused must be aware of the consequences of his act.


Knowledge denotes a bare state of conscious awareness of certain facts in which the human mind might itself remain supine or inactive whereas intention connotes a conscious state in which mental faculties are roused into activity and summed up into action for the deliberate purpose of being directed towards a particular and specific end which the human mind conceives and perceives before itself. (vide Kesar Singh & Anr vs State Of Haryana on 29 April, 2008)

Knowledge within its ambit will also include gross negligence .

Jai Prakash v. State (Delhi Administration) [(1991) 2 SCC 32], stating :


"...We may note at this state that 'intention' is different from 'motive' or 'ignorance' or 'negligence'. It is the 'knowledge' or 'intention' with which the act is done that makes difference, in arriving at a conclusion whether the offence is culpable homicide or murder. Therefore, it is necessary to know the meaning of these expressions as used in these provisions...

...The 'intention' and 'knowledge' of the accused are subjective and invisible states of mind and their existence has to be gathered from the circumstances, such as the, weapon used, the ferocity of attack, multiplicity of injuries and all other surrounding circumstances. The framers of the code designedly used the words 'intention' and 'knowledge' and it is accepted that the knowledge of the consequences which may result in doing an act is not the same thing as the intention that such consequences should ensue. Firstly, when an act is done by a person, it is presumed that he must have been aware that certain specified harmful consequences would or could follow. But that knowledge is bare awareness and not the same thing as intention that such consequences should ensue. As compared to 'knowledge', 'intention' requires something more than the mere foresight of the consequences, namely the purposeful doing of a thing to achieve a particular end."


Kenny in "Outlines of Criminal Law" (17th Edition at page 31) has observed:


Intention: To intend is to have in mind a fixed purpose to reach a desired objective; the noun 'intention' in the present connection is used to denote the state of mind of a man who not only foresees but also desires the possible consequences of his conduct. Thus if one man throws another from a high tower or cuts off his head it would seem plain that he both foresees the victim's death and also desires it: the desire and the foresight will also be the same if a person knowingly leaves a helpless invalid or infant without nourishment or other necessary support until death supervenes. It will be noted that there cannot be intention unless there is also foresight, since a man must decide to his own satisfaction, and accordingly must foresee, that to which his express purpose is directed.

Again, a man cannot intend to do a thing unless he desires to do it. It may well be a thing that he dislikes doing, but he dislikes still more the consequences of his not doing it. That is to say he desires the lesser of two evils, and therefore has made up his mind to bring about that one.


Russell on Crime (12th Edition at Page 41) has observed:


"In the present analysis of the mental element in crime the word 'intention' is used to denote the mental attitude of a man who has resolved to bring about a certain result if he can possibly do so. He shapes his line of conduct so as to achieve a particular end at which he aims."

It can thus be seen that the 'knowledge' as contrasted with 'intention' signifies a state of mental realisation with the bare state of conscious awareness of certain facts in which human mind remains supine or inactive. On the other hand, 'intention' is a conscious state in which mental faculties are aroused into activity and summoned into action for the purpose of achieving a conceived end. It means shaping of one's conduct so as to bring about a certain event. Therefore in the case of 'intention' mental faculties are projected in a set direction. Intention need not necessarily involve premeditation. Whether there is such an intention or not is a question of fact.


Illustration : A person who voluntarily inflicts injury such as to endanger life must always , except in most extra ordinary circumstances , taken to know that he is likely to cause death. So if a man with a very strong force kicks a delicate person in the abdomen which is a vulnerable part of human body and due to such act the person dies due to ruptured spleen , he should be presumed to have done it with the knowledge that , he by such act , was likely to cause death . (Mansel v. Emporer AIR 1926 Lah 813) Where accused Fired his gun in the air to scare away the opposite party and in the act one stray pellet caused gunshot wound to deceased which proved fatal . It was held by the the court that accused must be deemed to have knowledge that such act is likely to cause death and was accordingly held liable. (Ajmer singh v. State AIR 1955 Punj 13) Where accused while exorcising spirit beat up the deceased violently , knowledge was imputed to them and , they were held guilty of culpable homicide. ( Jamaluddin (1892) Unrep Cr.C 603)

Where accused kills a person by hitting him under the belief that he was hitting a ghost , but through terror took no steps to satisfy himself that it was not a human being , he was held to have committed culpable homicide . (vide Kangla (1898) 18 AWN 163)

Similarly , Where A struck B , who became senseless , believing B to be dead , A and his wife placed B on wooden pyre and set it ablaze , which cause B's death it was held that accused were not guilty under section 302 but were held liable for culpable homicide under 304 part II as knowledge was imputed to them . ( Sreenarayan (1947) 27 Pat 67 )


Suppose If A and B successively and independently wound C with murderous intent . C dies due to loss of blood caused by both wounds together. Neither of which alone was sufficient to cause death but both wounds combined together caused death. Then A and B both will be liable for death of C.






Allahabad High Court

Munni Lal vs Emperor on 13 August, 1943


The prosecution case is that on 28th November 1942, Munni Lal and his nephew, Megh Nath, went to the Khalyan of Hajju and Jwali who are indebted to them and demanded their money. The Chamars said that they were unable to pay. The accused chased them inside the courtyard and Megh Nath aimed a lathi blow at Hajju and knocked him down. Munni Lal sat on his chest and began to strangle him and would not desist in spite of the entreaties of his relations. Suddenly Hajju died. Jwali went to the Thana and made a report at 4 P.M. Megh Nath denies his presence but Munni Lal admits that he went to the Chamars' house and demanded money, whereupon he and Hajju grappled with one another and Hajju fell down and he fell on top of him. In other words, Munni Lal practically admits that he was responsible for Hajju's death. According to the doctor, Hajju's death was caused by shock and internal bleeding due to the rupture of spleen which was considerably enlarged. The other injuries including fracture of ribs and of the wind-pipe would not have been sufficient to cause his death if his spleen had not been ruptured. The fact that he had an enlarged spleen was not known to Munni Lal or apparently to his own relations.



Court held : If Munni Lal had known that Hajju's spleen was enlarged, he would have been guilty of murder under Section 300 The rapidity of death and the ignorance of Hajju's disability involve this legal consequence that Munni Lal's knowledge stopped short of intention. Munni Lal, however, is clearly guilty of culpable homicide under Section 304, second part. (knowledge was imputed to him in this case)


However , In Mega Meah (1865) 2 WR (CR) 39 - the accused was ignorant of enlarged spleen condition and inflicted a blow with a light bamboo stick . Here injury inflicted was not such as would cause his death but death resulted from ruptured spleen . accused has no knowledge of this ailment . Court held him liable for grievous hurt . Medical treatment explanation : Morcha vs State Of Rajasthan on 13 September, 1978

In the present case, the appellant appears to have intended to cause the death of Mst. Gajri otherwise there was no necessity for him to carry the dagger with him when he went to the village of his in-laws to fetch his wife. That the appellant intended to cause the death of the deceased is further clear from the fact that he inflicted a through and through penetrating wound on the posterior axillary line which seriously injured the vital organs of the deceased viz. the liver and the large colon leading to internal hemorrhage and shock.The injury in the opinion of the doctor being sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death of the deceased, the case squarely fell within the ambit of clause 'thirdly' of Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code as held by this Court in the decision referred to above.

The mere fact that if immediate expert treatment had been available & the emergency operation had been performed there were chances of survival of the deceased can be of no avail to the appellant. Explanation 2 to Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code clearly lays down that where death is caused by bodily injury, the person who causes such bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the death, although by resorting to proper remedies and skilful treatment the death might have been prevented. Conviction under 302 was upheld.





Even If the victim dies due to a wrong treatment , it will not absolve the guilt of the accused. Where A kicked his wife and surgeon administered brandy to her as restorative some of which went the wrong way and entered her lungs accused was still held guilty of manslaughter (Mc Intyre (1847) 2 Cox 379) However, where injury was not direct cause of death i.e. not causa causans . Like in the case of sobha v. emporer (supra) where death was not due to injury but due to septic . Accused then cannot be held liable for culpable homicide.



Distinction murder and culpable homicide





The distinguishing feature is the mens rea. What is pre-requisite in terms of clause (2) of Section 300 is the knowledge possessed by the offender in regard to the particular victim being in such a peculiar condition or state of health that the intentional harm caused to him is likely to be fatal. Intention to cause death is not an essential ingredient of clause (2). When there is an intention of causing a bodily injury coupled with knowledge of the offender as regards likelihood of such injury being sufficient to cause the death of a particular victim would be sufficient to bring the offence within the ambit of this clause.


For determination of the said question, it would be convenient if the exceptions contained in Section 300 are taken into consideration as if the case falls under the said exceptions, there would not be any question of applicability of the main provision of Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code.


The distinction between culpable homicide amounting to murder and not amounting to murder is well known. Culpable homicide is genus, murder is its specie. The culpable homicide, excluding the special characteristics of murder, would amount to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The Code recognizes three degrees of culpable homicide. When a culpable homicide is of the first degree, it comes within the purview of the definition of Section 300 and it will amount to murder. The second degree which becomes punishable in the first part of Section 304 is culpable homicide of the second degree. Then there is culpable homicide of third degree which is the least side of culpable homicide and the punishment provided for is also the lowest among the punishments for the three grades. It is punishable under the second part of Section 304.


The questions which are required to be posed are - (1) Whether the bodily injuries found on the deceased were intentionally inflicted by the accused; and if so, (2) Whether they were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.


If both these elements are satisfied, the same would amount to murder. However, when the court is beset with a question as to whether the offence is murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the fact involved must be examined having regard to :

(1) whether the accused has done an act which caused the death of another;

(2) if a causal connection is found between the act of the deceased and the death, the relevant question would be whether the act of the accused amounts to culpable homicide as defined in Section 299; and

(3) if the answer thereto again is found to be in affirmative, the question would be whether in the facts of this case, Section 300 or any of the exceptions contained therein would be attracted. In this case, it has been found by both the courts that the offence committed by the accused does not amount to culpable homicide amounting to murder. The difficulty, thus, arises herein in applying thirdly of Section 300,





For convenience of comparison, the provisions of Sections 299 and 300 of the Indian Penal Code may be stated thus:


Section 299.


A person commits culpable homicide, if the act by which the death is caused is done


(a) With the intention of causing death;


(b) With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death:


(c) With the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.


Section 300.


Subject to certain exceptions, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done (1) With the intention of causing death;


(2) 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) 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) With the knowledge that the act is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death, or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.



(a) and (1) show that where there is an intention to kill, the offence is always murder.


(c) and (4) intended to apply (I do not say that they are necessarily limited) to cases in which there is no intention to cause death or bodily injury. Furious driving, firing at a mark near a public road, would be cases of this description. Whether the offence is culpable homicide or murder, depends upon the degree of risk to human life. If death is a likely result, it is culpable homicide; if it is the most probable result, it is murder.


The essence of (2) appears to me to be found in the words which I have underlined. The offence is murder, if the offender knows that the particular person injured is likely, either from peculiarity of constitution, or immature age, or other special circumstance, to be killed by an injury which would not ordinarily cause death. The illustration given in the section is the following:


A, knowing that Z is labouring under such a disease that a blow is likely to cause his death, strikes him with intention of causing bodily injury. Z dies in consequence of the blow. A is guilty of murder, although the blow might not have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause the death of a person in a sound state of health.


There remain to be considered (b) and (3), and it is on a comparison of these two clauses that the decision of doubtful cases like the present must generally depend. The offence is culpable homicide, if the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is likely to cause death; it is murder, if such injury is sufficient in the, ordinary course of nature to cause death. The distinction is fine, but appreciable. It is much the same distinction as that between (c) and (4), already noticed. It is a question of degree of probability. Practically, I think, it will generally resolve itself into a consideration of the nature of the weapon used. A blow from the fist or a stick on a vital part may be likely to cause death; a wound from a sword in a vital part is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. (Reg vs Govinda on 18 July, 1876)



King v. Aung Nyun [191 IC 306 (FB)] where it was observed "it does not follow that a case of culpable homicide is murder because it does not fall within any of the exceptions of Section 300. To render culpable homicide as murder, the case must come within the provisions of clause (1) or (2) or (3) or (4) of Section 300." Whereas Section 299 defines the offence of culpable homicide, Section 300 defines the circumstances in which the offence of culpable homicide will, in absence of exceptions laid down therein, amount to murder.




Reg vs Govinda on 18 July, 1876

Justice Melville in the following case held :-

"In the present case the prisoner, a young man of 18, appears to have kicked his wife, (a girl of 15) and to have struck her several times with his fist on the back. These blows seem to have caused her no serious injury. She, however, fell on the ground, and I think that the evidence shows that the prisoner then put one knee on her chest, and struck her two or three times on the face. One or two of these blows, which, from the medical evidence, I believe to have been violent and to have been delivered with the closed fist, took effect on the girl's left eye, producing contusion and discoloration. The skull was not fractured, but the blow caused an extravasation of blood on the brain, and the girl died in consequence either on the spot, or very shortly afterwards. On this state of facts the Sessions Judge and the assessors have found the prisoner guilty of murder, and he has been sentenced to death. I am myself of opinion that the offence is culpable homicide, and not murder. I do not think there was an intention to cause death; nor do I think that the bodily injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Ordinarily, I. think, it would not cause death. But a violent blow in the eye from a man's fist, while the person struck is lying with his or her head on the ground, is certainly likely to cause death, either by producing concussion or extravasation of blood on the surface or in the substance of the brain. A reference to Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence (Fourth Edition, page 294) will show how easily life may be destroyed by a blow on the head producing extravasation of blood."Prisoner should be convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.


Section 300 of the Code states what kind of acts, when done with the intention of causing death or bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause death or causing bodily injury to any person, which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death or the person causing injury knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death, would amount to ‘murder’. It is also ‘murder’ when such an act is committed, without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such bodily injury. The Section also prescribes the exceptions to ‘culpable homicide amounting to murder’. The explanations spell out the elements which need to be satisfied for application of such exceptions, like an act done in the heat of passion and without pre- mediation. Where the offender whilst being deprived of the power of self- control by grave and sudden provocation causes the death of the person who has caused the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident, provided such provocation was not at the behest of the offender himself, ‘culpable homicide would not amount to murder’. This exception itself has three limitations. All these are questions of facts and would have to be determined in the facts and circumstances of a given case.


This Court in the case of Vineet Kumar Chauhan v. State of U.P. (2007) 14 SCC 660 noticed that academic distinction between ‘murder’ and ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ had vividly been brought out by this Court in State of A.P. v. Rayavarapu Punnayya [(1976) 4 SCC 382], where it was observed as under:


“…..that the safest way of approach to the interpretation and application of Section 299 and 300 of the Code is to keep in focus the key words used in various clauses of the said sections. Minutely comparing each of the clauses of section 299 and 300 of the Code and the drawing support from the decisions of the court in Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab and Rajwant Singh v. State of Kerala, speaking for the court, Justice RS Sarkaria, neatly brought out the points of distinction between the two offences, which have been time and again reiterated. Having done so, the court said that wherever the Court is confronted with the question whether the offence is murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder, on the facts of a case, it would be convenient for it to approach the problem in three stages. The question to be considered at the first stage would be that the accused has done an act by doing which he has caused the death of another. Two, if such causal connection between the act of the accused and the death, leads to the second stage for considering whether that act of the accused amounts to culpable homicide as defined in section 299. If the answer to this question is in the negative, the offence would be culpable homicide not amounting to murder, punishable under the First or Second part of Section 304, depending respectively, on whether this second or the third clause of Section 299 is applicable. If this question is found in the positive, but the cases come within any of the exceptions enumerated in Section 300, the offence would still be culpable homicide not amounting to murder, punishable under the first part of Section 304 of the Code. It was, however, clarified that these were only broad guidelines to facilitate the task of the court and not cast-iron imperative.”



In Ajit Singh v. State of Punjab [(2011) 9 SCC 462], the Court held that in order to hold whether an offence would fall under Section 302 or Section 304 Part I of the Code, the courts have to be extremely cautious in examining whether the same falls under Section 300 of the Code which states whether a culpable homicide is murder, or would it fall under its five exceptions which lay down when culpable homicide is not murder. In other words, Section 300 states both, what is murder and what is not. First finds place in Section 300 in its four stated categories, while the second finds detailed mention in the stated five exceptions to Section 300. The legislature in its wisdom, thus, covered the entire gamut of culpable homicide that ‘amounting to murder’ as well as that ‘not amounting to murder’ in a composite manner in Section 300 of the Code. Sections 302 and 304 of the Code are primarily the punitive provisions. They declare what punishment a person would be liable to be awarded, if he commits either of the offences.



An analysis of these two Sections must be done having regard to what is common to the offences and what is special to each one of them. The offence of culpable homicide is thus an offence which may or may not be murder. If it is murder, then it is culpable homicide amounting to murder, for which punishment is prescribed in Section 302 of the Code. Section 304 deals with cases not covered by Section 302 and it divides the offence into two distinct classes, that is (a) those in which the death is intentionally caused; and (b) those in which the death is caused unintentionally but knowingly. In the former case the sentence of imprisonment is compulsory and the maximum sentence admissible is imprisonment for life. In the latter case, imprisonment is only optional, and the maximum sentence only extends to imprisonment for 10 years. The first clause of this section includes only those cases in which offence is really ‘murder’, but mitigated by the presence of circumstances recognized in the exceptions to section 300 of the Code, the second clause deals only with the cases in which the accused has no intention of injuring anyone in particular.


Thus, where the act committed is done with the clear intention to kill the other person, it will be a murder within the meaning of Section 300 of the Code and punishable under Section 302 of the Code but where the act is done on grave and sudden provocation which is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the offender himself, the offence would fall under the exceptions to Section 300 of the Code and is punishable under Section 304 of the Code. Another fine tool which would help in determining such matters is the extent of brutality or cruelty with which such an offence is committed.


An important corollary to this discussion is the marked distinction between the provisions of Section 304 Part I and Part II of the Code. Linguistic distinction between the two Parts of Section 304 is evident from the very language of this Section. There are two apparent distinctions, one in relation to the punishment while other is founded on the intention of causing that act, without any intention but with the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death. It is neither advisable nor possible to state any straight-jacket formula that would be universally applicable to all cases for such determination. Every case essentially must be decided on its own merits. The Court has to perform the very delicate function of applying the provisions of the Code to the facts of the case with a clear demarcation as to under what category of cases, the case at hand falls and accordingly punish the accused.


A Bench of this Court in the case of Mohinder Pal Jolly v. State of Punjab [1979 AIR SC 577], stating this distinction with some clarity, held as under :


“11. A question arises whether the appellant was guilty under Part I of Section 304 or Part II. If the accused commits an act while exceeding the right of private defence by which the death is caused either with the intention of causing death or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as was likely to cause death then he would be guilty under Part I. On the other hand if before the application of any of the Exceptions of Section 300 it is found that he was guilty of murder within the meaning of clause “4thly”, then no question of such intention arises and only the knowledge is to be fastened on him that he did indulge in an act with the knowledge that it was likely to cause death but without any intention to cause it or without any intention to cause such bodily injuries as was likely to cause death. There does not seem to be any escape from the position, therefore, that the appellant could be convicted only under Part II of Section 304 and not Part I.”


Supreme Court of India

Rampal Singh vs State Of U.P on 24 July, 2012


Classification of an offence into either Part of Section 304 is primarily a matter of fact. This would have to be decided with reference to the nature of the offence, intention of the offender, weapon used, the place and nature of the injuries, existence of pre-meditated mind, the persons participating in the commission of the crime and to some extent the motive for commission of the crime. The evidence led by the parties with reference to all these circumstances greatly helps the court in coming to a final conclusion as to under which penal provision of the Code the accused is liable to be punished. This can also be decided from another point of view, i.e., by applying the ‘principle of exclusion’. This principle could be applied while taking recourse to a two-stage process of determination. Firstly, the Court may record a preliminary finding if the accused had committed an offence punishable under the substantive provisions of Section 302 of the Code, that is, ‘culpable homicide amounting to murder’. Then secondly, it may proceed to examine if the case fell in any of the exceptions detailed in Section 300 of the Code. This would doubly ensure that the conclusion arrived at by the court is correct on facts and sustainable in law. We are stating such a proposition to indicate that such a determination would better serve the ends of criminal justice delivery. This is more so because presumption of innocence and right to fair trial are the essence of our criminal jurisprudence and are accepted as rights of the accused.


In the case of Vineet Kumar Chauhan v. State of Uttar Pradesh , the Court noticed that concededly there was no enmity between the parties and there was no allegation of the prosecution that before the occurrence, the appellant had pre-meditated the crime of murder. Faced with the hostile attitude from the family of the deceased over the cable connection, a sudden quarrel took place between the appellant and the son of the deceased. On account of heat of passion, the appellant went home, took out his father’s revolver and started firing indiscriminately and unfortunately one of the bullets hit the deceased on the chin. Appreciating these circumstances, the Court concluded :

“Thus, in our opinion, the offence committed by the appellant was only culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Under these circumstances, we are inclined to bring down the offence from first degree murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, punishable under the second part of Section 304 IPC.”


In the case of Aradadi Ramudu @ Aggiramudu vs. State, through Inspector of Police [(2012) 5 SCC 134], this Court also took the view that for modification of sentence from Section 302 of the Code to Part II of Section 304 of the Code, not only should there be an absence of the intention to cause death but also an absence of intention to cause such bodily injury that in the ordinary course of things is likely to cause death.



Budhi Lal vs State Of Uttarakhand on 26 September, 2008


Clause (b) of Section 299 corresponds with clauses (2) and (3) of Section 300. The distinguishing feature of the mens rea requisite under clause (2) is the knowledge possessed by the offender regarding the particular victim being in such a peculiar condition or state of health that the internal harm caused to him is likely to be fatal, notwithstanding the fact that such harm would not in the ordinary way of nature be sufficient to cause death of a person in normal health or condition. It is noteworthy that the `intention to cause death' is not an essential requirement of clause (2). Only the intention of causing the bodily injury coupled with the offender's knowledge of the likelihood of such injury causing the death of the particular victim, is sufficient to bring the killing within the ambit of this clause. This aspect of clause (2) is borne out by illustration (b) appended to Section 300.


Clause (b) of Section 299 does not postulate any such knowledge on the part of the offender. Instances of cases falling under clause (2) of Section 300 can be where the assailant causes death by a fist blow intentionally given knowing that the victim is suffering from an enlarged liver, or enlarged spleen or diseased heart and such blow is likely to cause death of that particular person as a result of the rupture of the liver, or spleen or the failure of the heart, as the case may be. If the assailant had no such knowledge about the disease or special frailty of the victim, nor an intention to cause death or bodily injury sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, the offence will not be murder, even if the injury which caused the death, was intentionally given. In clause (3) of Section 300, instead of the words `likely to cause death' occurring in the corresponding clause (b) of Section 299, the words "sufficient in the ordinary course of nature" have been used. Obviously, the distinction lies between a bodily injury likely to cause death and a bodily injury sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The distinction is fine but real and if overlooked, may result in miscarriage of justice. The difference between clause (b) of Section 299 and clause (3) of Section 300 is one of the degree of probability of death resulting from the intended bodily injury. To put it more broadly, it is the degree of probability of death which determines whether a culpable homicide is of the gravest, medium or the lowest degree. The word `likely' in clause (b) of Section 299 conveys the sense of probable as distinguished from a mere possibility. The words "bodily injury.......sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death" mean that death will be the "most probable" result of the injury, having regard to the ordinary course of nature.


For cases to fall within clause (3), it is not necessary that the offender intended to cause death, so long as the death ensues from the intentional bodily injury or injuries sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Rajwant and Anr. v. State of Kerala, (AIR 1966 SC 1874) is an apt illustration of this point.


Mangesh vs State Of Maharashtra on 5 January, 2011


The intention to cause death can be gathered generally from a combination of a few or several of the following, among other, circumstances: (i) nature of the weapon used; (ii) whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot; (iii) whether the blow is aimed at a vital part of the body; (iv) the amount of force employed in causing injury; (v) whether the act was in the course of sudden quarrel or sudden fight or free for all fight; (vi) whether the incident occurs by chance or whether there was any premeditation; (vii) whether there was any prior enmity or whether the deceased was a stranger;(viii) whether there was any grave and sudden provocation, and if so, the cause for such provocation; (ix) whether it was in the heat of passion; (x) whether the person inflicting the injury has taken undue advantage or has acted in a cruel and unusual manner; (xi) whether the accused dealt a single blow or several blows. The above list of circumstances is, of course, not exhaustive and there may be several other special circumstances with reference to individual cases which may throw light on the question of intention".



difference third clause section 300:


The questions which are required to be posed are - (1) Whether the bodily injuries found on the deceased were intentionally inflicted by the accused; and if so, (2) Whether they were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.


If both these elements are satisfied, the same would amount to murder. However, when the court is beset with a question as to whether the offence is murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the fact involved must be examined having regard to : (1) whether the accused has done an act which caused the death of another; (2) if a causal connection is found between the act of the deceased and the death, the relevant question would be whether the act of the accused amounts to culpable homicide as defined in Section 299; and (3) if the answer thereto again is found to be in affirmative, the question would be whether in the facts of this case, Section 300 or any of the exceptions contained therein would be attracted. In this case, it has been found by both the courts that the offence committed by the accused does not amount to culpable homicide amounting to murder





the locus classicus operating in the field is Virsa Singh v. state of punjab. We may notice the judgment at some details :


Facts : In Virsa Singh, the appellant therein was sentenced to imprisonment for life under Section 302 I.P.C. There was only one injury on the deceased and that was attributed to him. It was caused as a result of the spear thrust and the Doctor opined that the injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The Courts also found that the whole affair was sudden and occurred on a chance meeting. Peritonitis also supervened which hastened the death of the deceased. It was contended that the prosecution has not proved that there was an intention to inflict a bodily injury that was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature and therefore the offence was not one of murder. This contention was rejected.


We may notice the findings under different heads :

1. What must the prosecution prove?


It was observed that the prosecution must prove the following facts before it can bring a case under Section 300, "thirdly". First, it must establish quite objectively, that a bodily injury is present; secondly the nature of the injury must be proved. These are purely objective investigations. Thirdly, it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular injury, that is to say, that it was not accidental or unintentional or that some other kind of injury was intended. Once these three elements are proved to be present, the enquiry proceeds further, and fourthly it must be proved that the injury of the type just described made up of the three elements set out above was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. This part of the enquiry is purely objective and inferential and has nothing to do with the intention of the offender.


The Standard Laid Down It was said that the intention that the section requires must be related, not only to the bodily injury inflicted, but also to the clause, "and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death."


This is a favourite argument in this kind of case but may not be entirely correct. If there is an intention to inflict an injury that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature, then the intention is to kill and in that event, the "thirdly" would be unnecessary because the act would fall under the first part of the section, namely -


"If the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death."

In our opinion, the two clauses are disjunctive and separate. The first is subjective to the offender:


"If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person."

It must, of course, first be found that bodily injury was caused and the nature of the injury must be established, that is to say, whether the injury is on the leg or the arm or the stomach, how deep it penetrated, whether any vital organs were cut and so forth. These are purely objective facts and leave no room for inference or deduction : to that extent the enquiry is objective; but when it comes to the question of intention, that is subjective to the offender and it must be proved that he had an intention to cause the bodily injury that is found to be present.


Once that is found, the enquiry shifts to the next clause -


"and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death."

The first part of this is descriptive of the earlier part of the section, namely, the infliction of bodily injury with the intention to inflict it, that is to say, if the circumstances justify an inference that a man's intention was only to inflict a blow on the lower part of the leg, or some lesser blow, and it can be shown that the blow landed in the region of the heart by accident, then, though an injury to the heart is shown to be present, the intention to inflict an injury in that region, or of that nature, is not proved. In that case, the first part of the clause does not come into play. But once it is proved that there was an intention to inflict the injury that is found to be present, then the earlier part of the clause we are now examining - "and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted" is merely descriptive.

All it means is that it is not enough to prove that the injury found to be present is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature; it must in addition be shown that the injury is of the kind that falls within the earlier clause, namely, that the injury found to be present was the injury that was intended to be inflicted. Whether it was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature is a matter of inference or deduction from the proved facts about the nature of the injury and has nothing to be with the question of intention.


In considering whether the intention was to inflict the injury found to have been inflicted, the enquiry necessarily proceeds on broad lines as, for example, whether there was an intention to strike at a vital or a dangerous part of the body, and whether with sufficient force to cause the kind of injury found to have been inflicted. It is, of course, not necessary to inquire into every last detail as, for instance, whether the accused intended to have the bowels fall out, or whether he intended to penetrate the liver or the kidneys or the heart. Otherwise, a man who has no knowledge of anatomy could never be convicted, for, if he does not know that there is a heart or a kidney or bowels, he cannot be said to have intended to injure them. Of course, that is not the kind of enquiry. It is broad based and simple and based on commonsense : the kind of enquiry that "an ordinary man" could readily appreciate and understand.


To put it shortly, the prosecution must prove the following facts before it can bring a case under Section 300, "3rdly":


First, it must establish, quite objectively, that a bodily injury is present;


Secondly, the nature of the injury must be proved; These are purely objective investigations.


Thirdly, it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury, that is to say, that it was not accidental or unintentional, or that some other kind of injury was intended.


Once these three elements are proved to be present, the enquiry proceeds further and, Fourthly, it must be proved that the injury of the type just described made up of the three elements set out above is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. This part of the enquiry is purely objective and inferential and has nothing to do with the intention of the offender.


Once these four elements are established by the prosecution (and, indisputably, the burden is on the prosecution throughout) the offence is murder under Section 300, "3rdly". It does not matter that there was no intention to cause death. It does not matter that there was no intention even to cause an injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature (not that there is any real distinction between the two). It does not even matter that there is no knowledge that an act of that kind will be likely to cause death. Once the intention to cause the bodily injury is actually found to be proved, the rest of the enquiry is purely objective and the only question is whether, as a matter of purely objective inference, the injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. No one has a licence to run around inflicting injuries that are sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature and claim that they are not guilty of murder. If they inflict injuries of that kind, they must face the consequences; and they can only escape if it can be shown, or reasonably deduced that the injury was accidental or otherwise unintentional." B. The Different Views Hence, the question of whether the injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death is an objective enquiry. The accused need not have knowledge as whether the injury he intended to cause would have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. This is the position the Court took in the Virsa Singh case.



In State of Andhra Pradesh v. Rayavarapu Punnayya and Anr, [(1976) 4 SCC 382], the enquiry became one of whether the accused intended to cause the ultimate internal injury that led to death i.e. the Court inferred, from the surrounding facts and circumstances in that case that the accused had intended to cause the hemorrhage etc that ultimately led to death.




The following Para in Virsa Singh is illustrative :


"...The question is not whether the prisoner intended to inflict a serious injury or a trivial one but whether he intended to inflict the injury that is proved to be present, if he can show that he did not, or if the totality of the circumstances justify such an inference, then, of course, the intent that the section requires is not proved. But if there is nothing beyond the injury and the fact that the appellant inflicted it, the only possible inference is that he intended to inflict it. Whether he knew of its seriousness, or intended serious consequences, it neither here nor there. The question, so far as the intention is concerned, is not whether he intended to kill, or to inflict an injury of a particular degree of seriousness, but whether he intended to inflict the injury in question; and once the existence of the injury is proved the intention to cause it will be presumed unless the evidence or the circumstances warrant an opposite conclusion. But whether the intention is there or not is one of fact and not one of law. Whether the wound is serious or otherwise, and if serious, how serious, is a totally separate and distinct question and has nothing to do with the question whether the prisoner intended to inflict the injury in question."


Another passage which is relevant for our purpose reads, thus:


"...It is true that in a given case the enquiry may be linked up with the seriousness of the injury. For example, if it can be proved, or if the, totality of the circumstances justify an inference, that the prisoner only intended a superficial scratch and that by accident his victim stumbled and fell on the sword or spear that was used, then of course the offence is not murder. But that is not because the prisoner did not intend the injury that he intended to inflict to be as serious as it turned out to be but because he did not intend to inflict the injury in question at all. His intention in such a case would be to inflict a totally different injury.

The difference is not one of law but one of fact; and whether the conclusion should be one way or the other is a matter of proof, where necessary, by calling in aid all reasonable inferences of fact in the absence of direct testimony. It is not one for guess-work and fanciful conjecture."



In Brij Bhukhan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, , there was no injury sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. It was, however, pointed out that it was open to the Court to look into the nature of the injuries and if they were cumulatively sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, clause 3rdly of Section 300 was applicable" ( law reiterated in Anda And Ors. vs The State Of Rajasthan)

5 pronged test :-

Criminal Appeal No. 341 of 2005

Richhpal Singh Meena Vs. Ghasi Decided On: 04.07.2014

a five-step inquiry is necessary: (i) Is there a homicide? (ii) If yes, is it a culpable homicide or a 'not-culpable homicide? (iii) If it is a culpable homicide, is the offence one of culpable homicide amounting to murder (Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code) or is it a culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code)? (iv) If it is a 'not-culpable homicide' then a case Under Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code is made out. (v) If it is not possible to identify the person who has committed the homicide, the provisions of Section 72 of the Indian Penal Code may be invoked.

In Anda v. State of Rajasthan . In that case, several accused beat the victim with sticks after dragging him into a house and caused multiple injuries including 16 lacerated wounds on the arms and legs, a hematoma on the forhead and a bruise on the chest. Under these injuries to the arms and legs lay fractures of the right and left ulnas, second and third metacarpal bones on the right hand and second metacarpal bone of the left hand, compound fractures of the right tibia and right fibula. There was loss of blood from the injuries. The Medical Officer who conducted the autopsy opined that the cause of the death was shock and syncope due to multiple injuries; that all the injuries collectively could be sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature, but individually none of them was so sufficient.


Question arose whether in such a case when no significant injury had been inflicted on a vital art of the body, and the weapons used were ordinary lathis, and the accused could not be said to have the intention of causing death, the offence would be 'murder' or merely 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder'. This Court speaking through Hidayatullah J. (as he then was), after explaining the comparative scope of and the distinction between ss. 299 and 300, answered the question in these terms:


"The injuries were not on a vital part of the body and no weapon was used which can be described as specially dangerous. Only lathis were used. It cannot, therefore, be said safely that there was an intention to cause the death of Bherun within the first clause of s. 300. At the same time, it is obvious that his hands and legs were smashed and numerous bruises and lacerated wounds were caused. The number of injuries shows that every one joined in beating him. It is also clear that the assailants aimed at breaking his arms and legs. Looking at the injuries caused to Bherun in furtherance of the common intention of all it is clear that the injuries intended to be caused were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature, even if it cannot be said that his death was intended. This is sufficient to bring the, case within 3rdly of s. 300."


Supreme Court of India

State Of Andhra Pradesh vs Rayavarapu Punnayya & Another on 15 September, 1976

The ratio of Anda v. State of Rajasthan (supra) applies in full force to the facts of the present case. Here, a direct causal connection between the act of the accused and the death was established. The injuries were the direct cause of the death. No secondary factor such as gangrene, tetanus etc., supervened. There was no doubt whatever that the beating was premeditated and calculated. Just as in Anda's case, here also, the aim of the assailants was to smash the arms and legs of the deceased, and they succeeded in that design. causing no less than 19 injuries, including fractures of most of the bones of the legs and the arms. While in Anda's case, the sticks used by the assailants were not specially dangerous, in the instant case they were unusually heavy, lethal weapons. All these acts of the accused were pre-planned and intentional, which, considered objectively in the light of the medical evidence. were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The mere fact that the beating was designedly confined by the assailants to the legs and arms, or that none of the multiple injuries inflicted was individually sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, will not exclude the application of Clause 3rdly of s. 300. The expression "bodily injury" in Clause 3rdly includes also its plural, so that the clause would cover a case where all the injuries intentionally, caused by the accused are cumulatively sufficient to cause the death in the ordinary course of nature, even if none of those injuries individually measures upto such sufficiency. The sufficiency spoken of in this clause. as a|ready noticed, is the high probability of death in the ordinary course of nature, and if such sufficiency exists and death is caused and the injury causing it is intentional, the case would fail under Clause 3rdly of s 300. All the conditions which are a pre-requisite for the applicability of this clause have been established and the offence committed by the accused in the instant case was 'murder'.



015. principles of section 299 and 300
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