Ingredients of culpable homicide under Section 299

Homicide is nothing but killing of a human being. It can be either lawful or unlawful. Lawful homicide is covered under the general exceptions as mentioned under Sections 76 – 106 of Indian Penal Code. Unlawful homicide is categorised under the offences against human life and the same is classified as;

  • Culpable homicide not amounting to Murder (Section 299);
  • Murder (Section 300); and
  • Homicide by rash and negligent act (Section 304A)

Section 299 of Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of Culpable Homicide. By virtue of Section 299, 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.

Referring to above provision of the Indian Penal Code, the essential ingredients of culpable homicide are as follows;

Intention of causing death

Intention is the purpose with which an act is done. It is a question of fact. It implies the foreknowledge and the desire or willingness to commit an act. It does not imply or assume the existence of some previous intention. It implies the actual intention existing at the very moment of committing an act.

Intention of causing such bodily injury as likely to cause death

In order to hold a person responsible for the offence of culpable homicide under the provisions of Indian Penal Code, it is essential to prove that, the death of the deceased was directly connected with the act of the accused. Such connection should be distinct as well.

Knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death

When an act is done by a person, it is presumed that, he is having sufficient knowledge about the consequences of his act. Knowledge in this context merely means awareness. However, such a mere awareness shall not be equated to the intention to commit an offence. “Intention” and “Knowledge” are two distinct concepts1.

By virtue of Section 304 of Indian Penal Code, whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

  1. Jai Prakash v. State of Delhi, (1991) 1 SCJ 319 []

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