Examples of excusable homicides are the general exceptions given under sections 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88 and 92, while those of justifiable homicides are the general exceptions given under sections 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 100, 103 and 106. Unlawful homicides under the Code have been mentioned under sections 299, 300 and 304-A.
The first kind of unlawful homicide has been designated as culpable homicide under section 299 of the Code. ‘Culpable’ means blameworthy, faulty or criminal. Since ‘homicide’ means killing of a human being by a human being, culpable homicide means such killing of a human being by a human being as is criminal.
The section which defines culpable homicide says that whoever causes death by doing an act either 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.
The section requires that death must result. ‘Death’ has been defined under section 46 of the Code as denoting the death of a human being, unless the contrary appears from the context. Death must be caused by doing an act.
Doing an act
An ‘act’ according to section 33 of the Code denotes as well as a series of acts as a single act and the word ‘omission’ denotes as well a series of omissions as a single omission. Section 32 of the Code makes it specific that in every part of this Code, except where a contrary intention appears from the context, words which refer to acts done extend also to illegal omissions.
In section 299 also, since no such contrary intention appears, the word ‘act’ includes illegal omission. Illegal omission on the part of a jailor, for instance, to supply food to a prisoner, or on the part of a mother to feed her infant child, or on the part of a nurse, hired to feed an invalid, to feed him, would amount to homicide if it results into death.
Similarly, illegal omission to call off a dangerous dog fastening on a person knowing fully well that not doing so is likely to cause the other person’s death, or illegal omission to tell another that a river is swollen so high that the other person cannot attempt to ford it safely, would also be homicide.
Death caused by effect of words
Causing death by effect of words spoken by a person may amount to doing an act if there is causal connection between the death and the words spoken, and as such the person may be liable for culpable homicide if the requirements of section 299 are fulfilled. There can possibly be no difference between causing death directly and doing the same circuitously.
Making a loud notice and thereby waking a sick person intentionally thereby denying him the chance of life which sound sleep may give him, or giving a bad news to a sick person suddenly knowing about its consequences may make the person doing so liable for culpable homicide if requirements of the section are met. Such cases may, however, be very rare.
The section also requires the prosecution to prove a specific guilty mind either in the form of intention or knowledge on the part of the doer of the act. If it is intention, then according to the first part of the section it must be an intention to cause death. If it is not such an intention, then according to the second part it must be an intention to cause bodily injury and the bodily injury must be such as is likely to cause death.
It is important to note here that the word used is not ‘injury’ but ‘bodily injury’. The word ‘injury’ according to section 44 of the Code denotes any harm whatever illegally caused to any person in body, mind, reputation or property. By using the expression ‘bodily injury’ the authors of the Code have covered harm caused illegally to any person in body only, and have eliminated harm caused in mind, reputation and property from the purview of this section.
If the guilty mind is not in the form of intention, then according to the third part the prosecution must establish such knowledge on the part of the doer as is likely to cause death. It is clearly visible that the section nowhere says that the intention to cause death or bodily injury, or knowledge of the consequences of the act must be with respect to a particular individual.
In other words, intention to cause death means intention to cause death of any human being; intention to cause bodily injury as is likely to cause death signifies intention to cause bodily injury as is likely to cause death of any human being; and knowledge that the doer is likely by such act to cause death shows knowledge that the doer is likely by such act to cause death of any human being. Illustration (a) in the section also clearly proves the point and so does section 301 of the Code.
Three explanations have been given in the section with a view to remove ambiguity, if any. According to the first, causing bodily injury to another who is labouring either under a disorder, or disease or bodily infirmity, and thereby accelerating the death of that other, shall be deemed to be causing his death.
According to the second, in cases of death having been caused by bodily injury, the person causing the bodily injury shall be deemed to have caused the death even though by having the benefit of proper remedies and skilful treatment the death might have been prevented.
The third explanation states that causing death of a child in the mother’s womb is not homicide. But it may amount to culpable homicide to cause death of such a child if the child is a living child and any part of that child has been brought forth, even though the child may not have breathed or may not have been completely born.
The word ‘motive’ has nowhere been used in the Code. But whenever one comes across a case of culpable homicide or murder there is almost always a mention of the word ‘motive’ in the courts as well as in the judicial pronouncements. The reason for the same is that even though motive is not required to be proved as an essential element of a crime, it helps the court to gather the intention of the accused. Motive is the ulterior intent.
It prompts a person to form an intention, and intention of the accused is an important consideration in criminal law. Additionally, section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 says that any fact is relevant which shows or constitutes a motive or preparation for any fact in issue or relevant fact.
The conduct of any party, or of any agent to any party, to any suit or proceeding, in reference to such suit or proceeding, or in reference to any fact in issue therein or relevant thereto, and the conduct of any person an offence against whom is the subject of any proceeding, is relevant, if such conduct influences or is influenced by any fact in issue or relevant fact, and whether it was previous or subsequent thereto.
There are two explanations attached to this section according to the first of which the word ‘conduct’ in this section does not include statements, unless those statements accompany and explain acts other than statements, but this explanation is not to affect the relevancy of statements under any other section of this act. As per the second explanation when the conduct of any person relevant, any statement made to him or in his presence and hearing, which affects such conduct, is relevant.
Intention of causing death
The first part (clause) of this section says that causing death by doing an act with the intention of causing death is culpable homicide. It is very hard to convince the court that the accused had intention to cause death, it being a matter of criminal law under which the rule is that the guilt has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The evidence must be so strong as to force the court to infer intention to cause death.
For instance, one or two blows by a knife or a dagger will ordinarily not be enough to infer such an intention as these may show only an intention to cause grievous hurt. On the other hand, if there be evidence to the effect that after one or two such blows the deceased fell down on the ground injured and there was no apprehension of his being able to attack the accused but even then the accused gave him a few more blows as a cumulative result of which the deceased died, the evidence is clear enough to prove intention to cause death as the accused continued his attack on a person who had already fallen on the ground injured.
However, one or two blows also may sometimes allow the court to infer intention to cause death but only with the help of some additional evidence. For example, if the accused had already made two attempts previously on the life of the victim but was not successful in either, and then he made the third attack and gave only two blows which proved fatal, the court is bound to infer that he had an intention of causing death of the victim.
But in view of very large number of cases being decided by the courts in India there may be slips here and there and the court may not be as meticulous as it should be. This is bound to cause imbalances as far as application especially of respective clauses of sections 299 and 300 are concerned. The court must in all cases also make sure that there exist no intervening circumstances to disjoin the end result with the act done with a particular intention or knowledge.
Generally ‘No application’ nature of the first clause except in cases of the five exceptions provided under section 300
Even though the first clause of the section covers cases of intentional causing of death in theory, in practice generally no conviction can be based on this clause. The reason for this is that the language used in this clause has been reproduced in the first clause of section 300 while defining murder through culpable homicide, as a result of which all such deaths become murder under the first clause of section 300.
In other words, the first clause of section 299 is rendered redundant in practice generally even though it remains absolutely necessary in theory because the definition of murder in the present form is through the definition of culpable homicide.
Therefore, the first clause of section 299 has generally a ‘no application’ nature as far as the convictions in practice under this clause are concerned. But when any of the five exceptions to section 300 comes into play, then the first clause of section 299 comes back to life.
Thus, where an intentional murder is committed by an accused and he pleads any of the five exceptions to section 300 in his defence and the court grants him that benefit on the basis of the facts and circumstances of the case, he will be convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder on the basis of clause 1 of section 299 and will be punished under section 304 Part I. That is why in section 304 Part I the language “………….. if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death,…………..” has been used.
With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death
Under the second clause of section 299, if death is caused with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, the offence is culpable homicide. The intention to cause bodily injury can easily be inferred when a person gives a blow or blows on another person because when one attacks another it can easily be concluded that he has an intention to cause at least bodily injury on him.
But almost invariably it can also be concluded by such act that he had knowledge that the victim would suffer bodily injury by his act. In other words, infliction of a blow may lead the court to infer intention to cause bodily injury as well as knowledge on the part of the accused that bodily injury would result. In such circumstances where both, such intention and knowledge are inferable, the court is expected to proceed according to the second clause, i.e., intention to cause bodily injury.
The reason for the same is that knowledge clause is expected to be applied only when neither intention to cause death nor intention to cause bodily injury can be held to be applicable. The knowledge clause has an independent existence and there may be ‘only knowledge’ situations.
For instance, where there is no quarrel or fighting between two persons but one suddenly takes out a knife from his pocket and gives one blow by it on the other in the heat of the moment. In such a situation the court would conclude that the facts and circumstances do not show any intention on the part of the attacker but he did know that by his blow the victim would be injured.
The court should be very careful while inferring intention or knowledge, as the case may be, because the framers of the Code in their wisdom had different situations in mind while enacting these provisions and the courts are expected to appreciate the same.
But the fact of the matter is that in view of the very large number of cases which are coming before the courts for disposal, there have been occasions where the subtle distinction has not received the importance it deserved in spite of perhaps best efforts on the part of courts. This may have resulted in dissimilar decisions in similar situations at times but without any discredit to courts.
According to the second clause, death must be caused with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death. The question as to how is the court to determine as to whether a bodily injury is likely to cause death or not is naturally of immense importance. For this the court always keeps three things, all at the same lime, in mind— the part of the body where the injury has been caused, the nature of the injury and the nature of the weapon used.
The human body has been generally divided into two parts for this purpose— vital and non-vital. Vital parts are those parts where the effect of an injury is more likely to result in serious consequences more easily, like the brain, heart and abdomen etc. Non-vital parts are those parts where generally an injury is not likely to cause very serious consequences easily, like the legs, arms, thighs etc.
The nature of the injury caused has to be judged very carefully by the court. An injury may be simple or superficial or grievous etc. How much deep it is and how much area does it cover are important considerations. The court has to take a cumulative view of the injuries while judging the nature.
The nature of the weapon used is an equally important fact requiring utmost attention of the court. A weapon may be lethal or non-lethal. A lethal weapon may be in the form of a gun, pistol, revolver, sword, spear, gandasa, gupti, dagger, knife and the like. A non-lethal weapon may be a lathi, stick, club, bamboo and other similar weapons.
But as pointed out above, it must always be borne in mind that part of the body and nature of injury and weapon must be viewed together and not separately to judge as to whether an injury is likely to cause death or not. For instance, a dagger blow on the stomach may be likely to cause death but a dagger blow on the heart may almost result in death in a very large number of cases and, therefore, sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death as provided under clause (3) of section 300 of the Code dealing with murder.
Whenever the post mortem report reveals on the basis of the above considerations that there was a reasonable probability of death to result the court would conclude that the bodily injury was likely to cause death. This reasonable probability of death should not be very high because in that case the third clause of section 300 would be applicable and the accused would be liable for murder provided he intended to commit that injury which in fact he did commit.
Whether the bodily injury is likely to cause death or not is an objective exercise for the court. A conviction on the basis of the second clause of section 299 would require that there was an intention on the part of the accused to cause bodily injury, and that the bodily injury so caused was likely to cause death and death in fact did result.
With the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death
According to the third (last) clause of section 299, causing death with the knowledge that the accused is likely by such act to cause death makes him liable for culpable homicide. As already stated under the second clause, intention to cause bodily injury and knowledge of the consequences may both be inferable from the very same act, and in such cases the intention clause must be applied and not the knowledge clause because the knowledge clause has been given an independent existence by the authors of the Code.
For instance, where an attacker attacks his victim he may be presumed to intend the natural consequences of his act, i.e., causing bodily injury. In addition, he may also be presumed to know that his attack would result into bodily injury to the victim. In such a situation, the court must apply the second clause of this section and not the third clause.
On the other hand, where there is a sudden attack at the spur of the moment without any premeditation, or an utterly unwarranted act which is basically dangerous like driving without proper care in a crowded area and the like, the court must apply the third clause of this section because no specific intention can be derived in such a case and the accused may only be presumed to know the consequences of what he was doing.
In other words, where an accused does an act which he knows to be likely to result into death and death does in fact result, the accused is liable for culpable homicide on the basis of the third clause of section 299 of the Code. As is the case with the second clause, here also the probability of death should be reasonable but not very high because in that case the fourth clause of section 300 would be applicable making the accused guilty of murder. The probability of death will depend upon, as in the case of second clause, the part of the body where the injury has been caused and the nature of the injury caused and the weapon used by the accused.
Cases under clause (2)
Appellants armed with deadly weapons attacked the deceased causing serious injuries by which he died after about a month. It was held that they were guilty under section 299(2) and punishable under section 304 Part I. The accused inflicted four wounds on non-vital parts of the deceased’s body who died about two and a half months thereafter of septic poisoning of two wounds out of the four.
The accused was held guilty under section 304 Part I. The appellant in course of an altercation with the deceased gave one blow by an aruval on the head of the deceased causing his death. The medical evidence said that the injury could have been fatal but was not necessarily so. The court convicted the appellant under section 304 Part I.
There was a scuffle between the empty-handed accused and his half-brother, deceased, armed with a stick in course of a dispute. Seeing that the deceased’s brother was also coming to help him, the accused went inside, brought a chopper and inflicted more than one blow on the deceased but was then disarmed by the deceased’s brother who also suffered slight injuries in the process.
The deceased went out of the hospital twice without permission and thereafter died of septic pneumonia. It was held that neither did the accused have intention to cause death, nor did he have intention to inflict such bodily injury as was likely to cause death. So he was held guilty of causing grievous hurt only. Two accused persons were beating another person whose younger brother intervened. Seeing him intervening one of the accused stabbed him causing his death.
It was held that as soon as the person being beaten was joined by his younger brother as an intervener, the accused stabbed the intervener by a knife, and therefore, in the circumstances it could not be held that the accused intended to cause injury on a particular part of the body with the intention of snapping an artery. Consequently, requirements of clause (3) of section 300 as laid down in Virsa Singh v. Slate by Bose, J. were not fulfilled and so the accused were guilty under section 304 Part I only.
One of the three accused persons gave a fatal blow on the head of the deceased while another caused simple Injuries by spear on the knee and arm of the deceased and the third gave simple blows on him. Section 34 was held to be not applicable on the circumstances of the case. It was held that the first accused was liable under section 304 Part I, the other under section 324 for causing hurt by dangerous weapon and the third under section 323 for causing simple hurt only.
The accused gave one fatal blow on the deceased and did not repeat the act even though there was nothing to stop him from doing so. His primary intention was to obstruct the marriage of his sister with the deceased. His conviction under section 302 was altered to that under section 304 Part I.
Where the participation of the accused persons in the occurrence resulting in the death of the victim was proved, and most of the injuries found on the body of the deceased were external and on lower parts of the legs and arms, it was held that the intention of the accused persons was to cause grievous hurt only, and consequently their conviction under section 304 Part I read with section 34 was altered to one under section 325 read with section 34.
Where only one stab injury on the neck was given after a sudden quarrel and fight resulting in death due to shock and haemorrhage because of the snapping of cartoid and other surrounding arteries, section 299 (2) was held to be attracted.
In Ghansham v. State of Maharashtra, the accused husband stabbed his wife on chest resulting in her death on her refusal to have sexual intercourse with him. It was held that the act was done in sheer frustration, momentary impulse and anger, and so his liability was based on Section 299 (2) of the Code. In Madho v. State, where death was caused by only one spear blow on the chest when the accused was enraged and lost his mental balance on account of quarrel, and he had no intention to cause death, section 299
(2) Was held to be applicable. In Sarup Singh v. State of Haryana, death was caused by a single hammer blow on the head. The Supreme Court applied section 299 (2) and punished the accused under section 304, Part I of the Code.
In Pramod v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the accused inflicted a solitary knife blow on the right side of the back of the deceased during alteration when the victim asked him to get out of her house. Though the injury sustained by the deceased was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature, yet the Allahabad High Court held that from the circumstances it cannot conclusively be inferred that the accused intended to cause such particular injury and so it could be presumed that the accused caused death of the deceased with the intention of causing such bodily injury as was likely to cause death. Consequently, the accused was punished under section 304 Part I of the Code.
Cases under clause (3)
The deceased under the influence of drink was hurling abuses on the accused who asked him not to do so. When the deceased continued to do so, the accused came out of his shop, gave blows on him and pushed him down as a result of which the deceased fell down, hurt his head and died. It was held that the accused could not be held to have knowledge that his act was likely to cause death and so he was guilty of causing hurt only under section 323.
Where the accused gave a knife blow in the abdomen of the deceased with a view to free himself and run away so that the threat of dire consequences given to him by the deceased could not materialise, it was held that he was guilty under section 304 Part II. The deceased was grazing sheep when the accused came at the place with his dog which molested his sheep. The deceased hit the dog by a stick at which the accused got infuriated, took out the deceased’s turban and strangulated him by the same.
It was held that this being a case of sudden loss of temper, there being no previous enmity between the two and no premeditation on the part of the accused, he was guilty under section 304 Part II as he could be presumed to know the consequences of strangulation. Doing an act on a sudden impulse without exercising due care and caution could lead the court to presume that the accused did have knowledge of the consequences of his act.
Consequently, where the accused attacked a moving object by a club believing it to be a super natural thing without first trying to identify what it was, resulting in death of a person, he was held guilty under section 304 Part II. Where a woman gripped and squeezed the testicles of her husband resulting in his death due to shock on his nervous system it was held that she was guilty under section 304 Part II. Where a young boy of eighteen and a half years gave one blow on the head of the deceased by a ‘kassi’ which was given to him by his father, and the victim died six days later, the accused was held guilty under section 304 Part II.
In Laxman Kalu v. State, the accused went to his father-in-law’s home to bring back his wife and they were scheduled to return by the next morning conveyance. In the evening the accused quarrelled with his wife’s brother and stabbed him by a knife once resulting in death. In the Sessions Court the wife of the accused said that her husband had stabbed the victim, whereas the victim’s widow and three others said that the victim was killed by his own elder brother who was absconding.
The Sessions Court believed this latter evidence while the High Court relied on the accused’s wife’s testimony and convicted the accused of murder. The medical report said that though the stab injury was serious, it had not penetrated the lung and death had resulted mainly because the auxiliary artery and veins were snapped which caused shock and haemorrhage. Even though only one blow was given suddenly on the chest, it did not fall on a vital part of the chest, and but for the fact that knife had cut the auxiliary artery inside, death might not have resulted.
The Supreme Court held that in view of the above, it was by chance that the artery was cut, and so the accused did not have any intention, but he could be presumed to know the consequences of his act, and was thus guilty under section 304 Part II.
Where the accused persons were drunk when they attacked the deceased who became unconscious as a result, and they hung him from the ceiling causing his death by strangulation, it was held that they were liable under section 304 Part II. A snake charmer, while exhibiting in public, put a venomous snake, whose fangs he knew had not been extracted, on the head of a spectator who in trying to push it off was bitten by it and died.
It was held that the snake-charmer had committed culpable homicide under the third clause of section 299 and was as such punishable under section 304 Part II. Where the accused offered his child to a crocodile in a tank under the superstitious belief that he
would be returned unharmed and then would lead a long healthy life, and it was killed in the process, the court held him guilty under section 304 Part II on the ground that he could be presumed to know that his act was likely to cause death of the child.
Where a single knife blow was inflicted on the chest of the deceased at the spur of the moment without any previous enmity, and the presence of the accused at that place was proved to be accidental, it was held that the accused could be presumed to know that his act was likely to cause death and as such he was guilty under section 304 Part II.
Where an accused, believing that a girl is possessed by evil spirits, in exorcising the spirit of the girl, beats her severely as a result of which she dies, he must be presumed to know the consequences of his act and be held guilty under section 304 Part II. The accused did not have good relations with the complainant on account of a sale transaction of a piece of land.
He went to the house of the complainant along with many others armed with spears and lathis, gave a call for demolition of his house and assaulted the complainant and his wife. He also picked up the infant child of the complainant and threw him down on the ground with force as a result of which the child died some time later.
The accused was held guilty under section 304 Part II. The deceased was surrounded by armed accused persons. After he had fallen down by their attack, the appellant accused also gave him a blow, but the fatal injury could not be fixed on him. His conviction for murder was set aside and he was held liable under section 304 Part II.
During a sudden quarrel the deceased rebuked the accused who became infuriated and inflicted a single blow by an agricultural implement which he was carrying at that moment. The blow fell on the neck and proved fatal. His conviction of murder was altered to under section 304 Part II.
Where the injury attributed to the accused was not individually sufficient to cause death, and according to the medical evidence death was caused due to shock and haemorrhage resulting from two injuries, one attributed to the accused and the other to another accused who had been acquitted, the conviction of murder was altered to one under section 304 Part II.
The accused, on being injured by the son of the deceased mother, inflicted lathi blows on her. She was unarmed at the time of the fight and was trying to intervene to stop the fight. She died because of the injuries on her head and ribs. None of the accused except one had any sharp-edged weapon. It was held that the accused could be presumed to know that his act was likely to cause death of the intervening mother and was thus guilty under section 304 Part II.
Three lacerated injuries on the head, certain punctured wounds on the face and many other injuries were inflicted on the deceased in pursuance of the common object of an unlawful assembly. Three teeth were also broken. There were no injuries on the vital organs of the body, and there was no opinion as to whether the injuries cumulatively were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.
It was held that the common object being to belabour the deceased the conviction of the accused was altered to one under section 304 Part II. Similarly, where the accused persons, armed with lathis, inflicted simple injuries on non-vital parts of the deceased but the cumulative effect of the same was death, the accused appellant was held liable under section 304 Part II read with section 149 of the Code. A person was killed in course of a union rivalry. Only one out of several injuries was proved to be sufficient to cause death. Two out of six accused were convicted under section 302 read with section 34.
The prosecution failed to establish that the fatal injury was caused by the accused. The Supreme Court altered the conviction to one under section 304 Part II. Where death was caused by injuries inflicted on the head of the deceased in a sudden quarrel, and the accused having no intention to cause a particular injury which was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, he would be presumed to have knowledge that the said injury was likely to cause death, and so the conviction was altered to one under section 304 Part II read with section 34.
Where death was caused by inflicting fatal injury and the eye-witnesses said that it was the accused who first came forward and attacked the deceased inflicting a single fatal blow by a ‘tabbal,’ a blunt agricultural equipment which is not a deadly weapon, no intention could be presumed, and the accused would be guilty under section 304 Part II as he would have known that his act was likely to cause death.
There was a dispute over land. Three accused persons armed with sharp-edged weapons inflicted injuries on the deceased. There was no conflict between direct evidence and medical evidence. No serious injuries on vital parts of the body of the deceased were caused except one blow on the head by the blunt side of an axe. The deceased died six days later. Conviction under sections 302/34 was altered to one under section 304 Part II read with section 34 of the Code.
There was a custodial death in police custody. The accused shared common intention to beat the deceased violently. It was held that they must be attributed knowledge that by inflicting such injuries they were likely to cause death and hence they were guilty under section 304 Part II read with section 34.
The decision reiterates the earlier principle laid down in State v. Afrahim Sheikh, where several offenders by diverse acts and with prior concert chased the deceased, threw him on to the ground and beat him to death, that a conviction under section 304 Part II read with section 34 is legally valid even though section 304 Part II is a punishment clause on the basis of knowledge and section 34 is a principle of joint liability on the basis of common intention of a group of persons.
Where in course of a sudden quarrel the accused, a student, inflicted kick and fist blows on the deceased some of which fell on his vital parts resulting in his death, the conviction under section 304 Part II was set aside and the accused was held guilty only under section 325 for causing grievous hurt and probation benefit was given to him by suspending the sentence passed against him.
The accused was simmering with anger at the previous conduct of the deceased is moving freely with the accused’s wife. On the date of the incident the accused again saw the deceased entering the accused’s house in spite of warning. The accused stabbed the deceased inflicting one blow on non-vital part of the body as a result of which he died.
He was held guilty under section 304 Part II as he must be presumed to know that his act was likely to cause death. The accused was building on an open land against which the mother of the deceased girl of six years protested. The accused snatched the little girl from the lap of the mother and threw her on the ground causing her death in the process.
The object of snatching the girl and throwing her was to free her from the lap of the mother so that the mother could be beaten by kicks and fists. No weapon was used to beat the mother. It was held that in totality no intention or knowledge could be attracted within the meaning of section 299 of the Code and consequently the accused was guilty only of voluntarily causing grievous hurt under section 325.
Where the accused persons did not use any weapon in their possession on the lonesome deceased who died due to shock, haemorrhage and strangulation by kicks and fist blows and the circumstances of the case did not show any intention to assault severely nor to cause injury sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, their conviction was altered from under sections 302 and 34 to one under section 304 Part II read with section 34 of the Code.
Where the accused gave one blow on the deceased by the blunt side of a ‘gandhala’ in the heat of the moment and without premeditation resulting in his death, it was held that the case was covered by exception 4 of section 300 and the accused was guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and clause (3) of section 300 would not apply.
Similarly, where there was a short quarrel between the accused and the deceased after which the accused inflicted one blow on the deceased by a dagger that landed in the epigastrium area as a result of which the deceased succumbed to the injury, and there was no previous enmity between the two and no intention to cause that particular injury, the accused would be liable on the basis of clause (3) of section 299 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and not on the basis of clause (3) of section 300 for murder.
Where only one injury was caused by the accused on the deceased, and the accused did not carry any weapon in advance before the incident, and there was no premeditation on his part, and that he was a young college going boy, and there was some altercation between the deceased and the father of the accused previously, and the death resulted nearly six days after the incident the conviction of the accused on the basis of the fourth clause of section 300 for murder was altered to one on the basis of the third clause of section 299 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
There was a dispute between brothers Â and G on the one hand, and the accused persons on the other. One of the accused S had cut an indecent joke on the wife of Â on the day preceding the day of the incident against which Â and his brother G had gone to the house of S to complain about this misbehaviour of 5. Later S armed with a ‘gandasi’, J with a ‘gandhali’, Gi, with a ‘kassia’ and G2 with a spear assaulted Â and G. The deceased Tappeared on the scene after the accused persons had started assaulting Â and G.
There was no animosity of the accused towards T. When T attempted to intervene to save Â and G from further harm, a blow by spear was given by G2 on him which landed on his chest and penetrated deep into the chest cavity causing his death. G2 was held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder on the basis of the third clause of section 299 because though the injury may have been found sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature, but the same injury was not intended to be caused by G2 and consequently the third clause of section 300 could not be applied.
Where there was a sudden quarrel on the spur of the moment arising out of a trivial reason on a chance meeting of the parties, and there was no premeditation or malice, and the accused, a young man inflicted a simple blow by a knife on the chest of the victim causing his death, intention to cause death or that particular injury could not be inferred, and section 299(3) and not section 300(4) would apply.
Where the accused inflicted a single knife injury on the abdomen of the deceased and another knife injury on the left knee was caused in the course of trying to inflict another injury on the abdomen, and the deceased underwent an operation and died eight days after the incident, section 299 (3) was held to apply.
In a trivial incident the accused gave two lathi blows on the head of the deceased causing his death. Section 299 (3) was held to be applicable. Where the accused threw a stone at the deceased causing the brain matter of the deceased coming out resulting in death, section 299 (3) was applied. Where the deceased was brought to a police station where the police officials kicked him and dashed his herd three or four times against a wall causing his death in police custody, section 299 (3) was held to be attracted.
Where during a scuffle the accused inflicted a blow by the blunt side of an axe on the head of the deceased, and he himself suffered many injuries, his conviction was altered from murder to one under section 299 (3) of the Code.
In Chuttan v. State of M.P., the eye-witness deposed that injuries were caused by stick portion of the spear and other weapon and almost all injuries were on non-vital parts. The victim was left unattended at the site itself for nearly twenty hours. The Supreme Court held that it cannot be said that the intention of the accused was to cause death or to cause such injuries which were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature; but they could be attributed knowledge that by causing such injuries they were likely to cause death, and thus they were guilty under section 304 Part II of the Code. In S.K. Gore v. State of Maharashtra, death was caused as a result of the right artery being punctured at the ilium by stab injury on the abdomen. It was held that the accused could only be saddled with knowledge of causing death as contemplated by section 299 (3) and punished under section 304 Part II and not under section 302 of the Code.
In Ramesh Vithalrao Tliakre v. State of Maharashtra? the deceased got a single knife blow in the abdomen by the accused while intervening to save her brother being attacked by the accused. The accused caused no other injury to the deceased. The Supreme Court ruled that the accused could be clothed with knowledge and not intention that the injury was likely to cause death, and was thus guilty under section 304 Part II and not under section 302 of the Code. In Sarup Singh v. State the accused hit the deceased on the head by a hammer once as a result of which he died. He was held guilty under section 299(3) and punished under section 304 Part II.
In Takhaji Hiraji v. Thakore Kubersing Chamansing, there was a sudden quarrel between two communities of a village in the village chowk. The accused caused knife injuries in the abdomen of the deceased cutting the intestine. The Supreme Court held that though intention to cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death cannot be attributed, knowledge is attributable that injury by knife in the abdomen was likely to cause death. Consequently, guilt under section 304 Part II is proved.
In Chavda Jivanji Chelaji v. State of Gujarat, in a property dispute between the accused and the deceased, the deceased was assaulted by accused persons in the tield of the deceased. Some accused persons were armed with sticks and some with dharia (a stick with a sickle shaped metal fitted at the top). The only injury which caused death of the deceased was incised wound inflicted on the left humerus which cut the artery and vein. Question arose whether any one accused would have intended to inflict that injury. Eye-witness described that sometimes the deceased was standing up and at other times was running and was surrounded by assailants.
The Supreme Court, therefore, concluded that One particular injury on humerus cannot be said to be a wound specifically intended by the assailant at whose hand that injury was caused and the offence thus does not fall under clause 3 of section 300 and the conviction was altered to under sections 304 Part 11/34. The criminal liability was fastened only on those accused persons who possessed dharia and not on others who were armed with sticks. These others were held guilty under section 447 only along with dharia-armed accused persons.
In Vishnu Mohan v. State (NCT of Delhi)} the accused allegedly strangulated his mother. He was a drug addict and there were frequent quarrels between them over his demand of money. The accused was alone in his mother’s room when she was found strangulated. The deceased’s earrings and rings were recovered from his pocket immediately after the incident. The Delhi High Court held that the circumstances were sufficient to connect the accused with the homicidal death of his mother.
The incident, however, was not pre-meditated or preplanned. He had manually strangulated and had not used cotton belt or iron rod lying in the room. Thus there was no intention to cause death. Intention was only to threaten or silence his mother so that he could steal money from her store or remove her gold ornaments in order to buy drugs and in doing so he put pressure on her neck causing death. Thus, it was not a case to be punished under section 302 but only under section 304 Part II.
In Ruli Ram v. State of Haryana,- two young boys playing by the side of a pond were thrown into it by the accused on account of alleged refusal by their family members to vote in favour of a candidate of the accused. The intention of the accused was found to be not to commit murders but to create some disturbances at the polling station in order to divert attention of the crowd collected there so that booth capturing would be facilitated. No injuries were caused to the two deceased before they were thrown into the pond.
There was no attempt to strangulate them. The Supreme Court held that the accused could be attributed knowledge that the act was likely to cause death and so they were guilty under clause 3 of section 299 to be punished under section 304 Part II.
In State of Karnataka v. Mohamed Nazeer, the accused went to the house of the deceased, caught hold of him and hit him on the cheek and neck. On seeing that neighbours had reached at the spot, he stated that he would not leave the deceased alive and kicked him on his private parts. The deceased died due to neurogenic shock resulting from the injuries to his private parts.
The doctor opined that the injury was sufficient to cause immediate death. The trial court held that the statement of the accused followed by the kick showed that he knew that it was likely to cause death and sentenced him under section 304 Part II. The Karnataka High Court altered the conviction to one under section 323. The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court should not have interfered with the decision of the trial court.
In Abani K. Debnath v. State of Tripura, there was first a quarrel between two persons, the deceased being not one of them. The deceased actually intervened to save one of the fighting persons. Thus, the incident appeared to have occurred on the spur of the moment. The single fatal blow also was dealt with by one of the accused persons. The deceased died after a lapse of seven days. The medical evidence was considered by the
Supreme Court which held that section 299 (3) applied and the accused was punishable under section 304, Part II of the Code.
In Bannilal Choudhary v. State of Bihar, the accused caused death by a single gunshot injury on the left side of the chest of the deceased. There was no attempt by the accused to cause serious injury on any vital part of the body. The Supreme Court held that the act was done with the knowledge that he was likely by such act to cause death and the case was covered by section 299 (3) and not by section 300.
In Budhi Lai v. State of Uttarakhand, the accused, suspecting the fidelity of his wife, sat on her chest and assaulted her with hands resulting in her death. The Supreme Court applied section 299 (3) and held him guilty under section 304 Part II of the Code.
Death due to diseased spleen or heart
There have been many cases before the courts where the victim had been suffering from a diseased spleen or a diseased heart, unknown to the accused, who attacked the victim resulting in his death. In many of these cases the injury caused were neither sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death nor were they such as were likely to cause death, and thus applicability of sections 300(3) or 299(2) was eliminated. Sections 300(1) or 300(2) would also not be applicable as intention to cause death or intention to cause such bodily injury as the offender knew to be likely to cause death could not be presumed in such instances.
The application of sections 299(3) or 300(4) was also ruled out in view of the fact that knowledge that the accused was likely by such act to cause death, or knowledge that the act was so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, have caused death, or such bodily injury as was likely to cause death, and that the accused committed such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid could not have been possible to establish under the circumstances stated above. In view of the above reasons, the courts have in most cases held the accused guilty either of hurt or grievous hurt.
Causing bodily injury to a person labouring under a disorder, disease or bodily infirmity and thereby accelerating his death has been deemed to be causing his death under the first explanation. It is futile for the offender to contend that had the deceased not been labouring under a disorder, disease or bodily infirmity he would not have died.
The law does not make a difference between an offence affecting the life of a person who is to die soon from a mortal disease or old age etc. and one of strong health, because in either case it is accelerating the death, in the former by a few hours, months or years, and in the latter by many years.
This explanation pre-supposes that the act on the part of the accused falls under at least one of the three clauses of section 299. If such is not the case and the prosecution fails to establish on the part of the accused either intention to cause death, or intention to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or knowledge that the bodily injury is such as is likely to cause death, this explanation will not be applicable.
Where a concerted attack by a large number of persons on the deceased who was having a fatty heart results in his death, and the case falls under either of the three clauses of this section, explanation 1 will render the accused liable for culpable homicide or murder.
According to the second explanation, in cases of death being caused by bodily injury the person causing 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. In other words, in cases of death by bodily injury the person causing such injury is not allowed to say that if proper remedies or skilful treatment would have been made available to the deceased, his death might have been prevented.
The reason for this explanation is obvious. It is not always possible that proper remedies and skilful treatment are within the reach of a wounded person and allowing any exception in the matter could lead to disastrous consequences. It cannot be said that better medical facilities were not available at the local medical dispensary; and this fact will in no case change the nature of the offence.
There must always be a proximate and causal connection between the bodily injury caused and the death. The death must be the natural and probable result of the injury. The requirements of section 299 must, however, be established always before this explanation can be applied. Refusal of the deceased to submit to medical treatment would be of no help to the accused and he would still be liable if the requirements of this section are fulfilled and this explanation is applied.
Where, for instance, a simple bodily injury leads to septic meningitis because of negligent treatment the accused is not liable for death because of the absence of causal relationship between the death and the bodily injury. But where an injury results into gangrene and consequent death, or where as a result of the injuries caused by the accused pneumonia supervened resulting into death, the accused would be guilty of death because the causal connection between the death and the injury caused is intact.
In Sellappan v. State of Tamil Nadu, the accused beat the deceased with stick who died in hospital. The Supreme Court held that the plea of the accused that with proper treatment life of the deceased could have been saved is not tenable in view of explanation 2 to section 299. The accused was convicted under section 304, Part II and not under section 302 of the Code.
This explanation does not treat death of a child in the mother’s womb a homicide but if any part of a living child is brought forth causing its death may amount to culpable homicide even though the child may not have breathed or it may not have been completely born.
In other words, killing of a pregnant woman is only one homicide and not homicides because as long as a child is in the mother’s womb it has no independent existence of its own. But if any part of a child has come out of its mother’s womb and the child is a living child, causing its death may amount to culpable homicide if requirements mentioned in any of the clauses of section 299 are fulfilled.
For this it is not necessary that the child must have breathed or it may have been completely born. It is important to note, however, that an act done with intent to prevent a child from being born alive or to cause it to die after its birth is a punishable offence under section 315 of the Code.