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Culpable Homicide

Culpable homicide is the first kind unlawful homicide. Section 299, IPC defines Culpable homicide simpliciter. The scheme of the Penal Code is that first the genus of culpable homicide is defined and then Murder (Section 300) which is species of culpable homicide. While Section 299 defines culpable homicide’, it is not an exhaustive definition. It is important to remember that Section 300 also defines Culpable Homicide, but which amounts to murder.

Section 300 also defines Culpable homicide, but which amounts to murder, Culpable homicide is a wider offence than that of murder, as all acts of culpable homicide do not amount to murder thought, of course, all acts of murder are acts of culpable homicide.

Culpable homicide may broadly be classified into three classes:

(i) Culpable homicide simpliciter (Section 300) (ii) Culpable homicide amounting to Murder (Section 300); and (iii) Culpable homicide not amounting to Murder (Section 300, Exceptions 1 to 5).

Section 299 “Culpable Homicide” Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.

In Emperor V. Dalu Sardar, AIR 1915 Cal 221, the accused assaulted his wife by kicking her below the navel. She fell down and became unconscious. In order to create an appearance that the woman had committed suicide, he took up unconscious body, and thinking it to be a dead body, hung it by a rope. The post-mortem examination showed that death was due to hanging. The court assumed that at the time he struck her he was not intending to cause death. The learned judges say that as he thought it to be dead body he could not have intended to kill her if he thought that the woman was dead. It was held that the accused was not guilty of murder and a conviction was inflicted under Section 325. It is very difficult to understand that why the learned judges refer only to the intention to kill and completely ignored the intention to cause bodily injury likely to cause death.

In Palani Goundan Case (1920), the accused struck his wife a blow on her head with a plough share which, though not shown to be a blow likely to cause death, did in fact render her unconscious. The accused. believing her to be dead, in order to lay the foundation of false defense of suicide by strangulation. It was held that the accused was not guilty of culpable homicide. The court convicted him of causing grievous hurt.

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