HomeMurder & Distinction from Homicide


Murder is the highest degree of culpable homicide. When culpable homicide becomes aggravated and falls under the ambit of section 300 of the Indian Penal Code then it becomes culpable homicide amounting to murder. Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code defined murder-

“Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or— Secondly —If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or — Thirdly —If it is done 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, or — Fourthly —If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.”

The offence of murder is categorised into four parts, depending on the degree of the gravity of the mens rea of committing the crime. The first part contains a clear intention of causing death, the second part contains an ‘intention to cause a bodily injury’ which the offender has knowledge might lead to death, third part contains an intention to cause injury which would ordinarily lead to death.

The difference between secondly and thirdly lies in the knowledge aspect. In the second part, the offender has knowledge that his actions would possibly cause death while in the third, it is not necessary for him to have such knowledge the mere fact that he intended to cause the injury which led to the death is sufficient. Section 302 of the Indian penal code contains the punishment for murder depending on which clause of section 300 is the accused guilty of.

The Distinction between Culpable Homicide and Murder:

Culpable homicide is of two types, one that amounts to murder and one that does not amount to murder. Whether an act is of the prior or latter nature depends on the facts of each case, particularly on the degree of knowledge and the likeliness of the occurrence of death, the intention of causing death and the recklessness or negligence, if present, in each case. Thus culpable homicide is a broad classification under which murder is a subtype. A murder is higher in the degree of mens rea and gravity of the crime. This greater degree in mens rea is a result of higher knowledge and likeness of death occurring.

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