300- 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
                           Illustrations
     (a) A shoots Z with the intention of killing him. Z dies in consequence. A commits
murder.
     (b) A, knowing that Z is labouring under such a disease that a blow is likely to
cause his death, strikes him with the 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. But if A, not knowing that Z is labouring under any disease,
gives him such a blow as would not in the ordinary course of nature kill a person in
a sound state of health, here A, although he may intend to cause bodily injury, is
not guilty of murder, if he did not intend to cause death, or such bodily injury as in
the ordinary course of nature would cause death.
     (c) A intentionally gives Z a sword-cut or club-wound sufficient to cause the death
of a man in the ordinary course of nature. Z dies in consequence. Here, A is guilty
of murder, although he may not have intended to cause Z’s death.
     (d) A without any excuse fires a loaded cannon into a crowd of persons and kills
one of them. A is guilty of murder, although he may not have had a premeditated
design to kill any particular individual.
     Exception 1 —When culpable homicide is not murder.—Culpable homicide is
not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and
sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or
causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident.
The above exception is subject to the following provisos: —
      First — That the provocation is not sought or voluntarily provoked by the
offender as an excuse for killing or doing harm to any person.
     Secondly — That the provocation is not given by anything done in
obedience to the law, or by a public servant in the lawful exercise of the
powers of such public servant.
      Thirdly — That the provocation is not given by anything done in the lawful
exercise of the right of private defence.
       Explanation — Whether the provocation was grave and sudden enough to
prevent the offence from amounting to murder is a question of fact.
                             Illustrations
          (a) A, under the influence of passion excited by a provocation given by Z,
intentionally kills. Y, Z’s child. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was
not given by the child, and the death of the child was not caused by accident or
misfortune in doing an act caused by the provocation.
          (b) Y gives grave and sudden provocation to A. A, on this provocation, fires a
pistol at Y, neither intending nor knowing himself to be likely to kill Z, who is near
him, but out of sight. A kills Z. Here A has not committed murder, but merely
culpable homicide.
           (c) A is lawfully arrested by Z, a bailiff. A is excited to sudden and violent passion
by the arrest, and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was given
by a thing done by a public servant in the exercise of his powers.
          (d) A appears as witness before Z, a Magistrate, Z says that he does not believe a
word of A’s deposition, and that A has perjured himself. A is moved to sudden
passion by these words, and kills Z. This is murder.
          (e) A attempts to pull Z’s nose, Z, in the exercise of the right of private defence,
lays hold of A to prevent him from doing so. A is moved to sudden and violent
passion in consequence, and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation
was given by a thing done in the exercise of the right of private defence.
           (f) Z strikes B. B is by this provocation excited to violent rage. A, a bystander,
intending to take advantage of B’s rage, and to cause him to kill Z, puts a knife into
B’s hand for that purpose. B kills Z with the knife. Here B may have committed
only culpable homicide, but A is guilty of murder.
        Exception 2 — Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, in the exercise in
good faith of the right of private defence of person or property, exceeds the power
given to him by law and causes the death of the person against whom he is
exercising such right of defence without premeditation, and without any intention of
doing more harm than is necessary for the purpose of such defence.
Illustration
Z attempts to horsewhip A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt to A. A
draws out a pistol. Z persists in the assault. A believing in good faith that he can by
no other means prevent himself from being horsewhipped, shoots Z dead. A has
not committed murder, but only culpable homicide.
            Exception 3 — Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, being a public
servant or aiding a public servant acting for the advancement of public justice,
exceeds the powers given to him by law, and causes death by doing an act which
he, in good faith, believes to be lawful and necessary for the due discharge of his
duty as such public servant and without ill-will towards the person whose death is
caused.
            Exception 4 — Culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without
premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and
without the offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual
manner.
           Explanation — It is immaterial in such cases which party offers the provocation or
commits the first assault.
           Exception 5 — Culpable homicide is not murder when the person whose death is
caused, being above the age of eighteen years, suffers death or takes the risk of
death with his own consent.
                                   Illustration
A, by instigation, voluntarily causes, Z, a person under eighteen years of age to
commit suicide. Here, on account of Z’s youth, he was incapable of giving consent
to his own death; A has therefore abetted murder.
Comments
(i) In case where there was no intention to cause death, the act was done with
knowledge that same is likely to cause death, the guilt of offence comes under part
II of sec. 304; S.D. Soni v. State of Gujarat, (1991) Cr LJ 330 (SC).
(ii) In absence of intention to cause particular injury likely to cause death
conviction comes under part II of sec. 304; Randhir Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR
1982 SC 55 (1981) Cr LR (SC) 543: (1981) 4 SCC 484.
(iii) When there was no evidence as to how death came about, evidence relating to
charge of murder was held to be insufficient and unacceptable; Kedar Nath v.
State of Madhya Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 989 (SC).
(iv) When in case of murder complaint filed after a month of incident and
witnesses, statement recorded after 9 months, conviction cannot be founded;
State of West Bengal v. Shew Mangal Singh, AIR 1981 SC 1917: (1981) Cr LJ
1683: (1981) SCC (Cr) 782 : (1981) Cr LR (SC) 501 : (1981) 4 SCC 2.
(v) Circumstances that accused were in possession of buffaloes belonging to
deceased cannot lead to hold accused guilty of murder; Joga Gola v. State of
Gujarat, AIR 1982 SC 1227: (1982) SCC (Cr) 141.
(vi) When accused had no intention to cause injury on non-vital part of body which
was sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature, illustration (c) of section
300 is not applicable; Gokul Parashram Patil v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1981
SC 1441: (1981) Cr LJ 1033.
(vii) The totality of the injuries caused to the victim clearly supports the finding of
both the courts below that the accused/appellants went on belabouring the
deceased till he died on the spot. In the circumstances, the contention that the
accused did not intend to cause the murder of the deceased cannot be upheld by
the Supreme Court; Prabhu v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 1373
(1373-1374) (SC).
(viii) Having regard to the number of injuries inflicted on the deceased it was not
possible to uphold the contention that there was no intention to kill; Prabhu v.
State of Madhya Pradesh, (1991) Cr LJ 1373 (1373-1374) (SC).
(ix) The establishment of the involvement of the accused on the incident and
misgiving of a barchhi blow to the grandson of the deceased when he tried to go to
the rescue of his grand-father, is sufficient to convict the accused under section
300 read with section 34; Banta Singh v. State of Punjab, (1991) Cr LJ 1342 (SC).
(x) It is fallacious to contend that when death is caused by a single blow clause
thirdly is not attracted and, therefore, it would not amount to murder. The
ingredient ‘intention’ in that clause gives clue in a given case whether offence
involved is murder or not; Jai Prakash v. The State (Delhi Administration), (1991) 1
Crimes 474 (SC).
(xi) The number and nature of injuries may furnish good evidence to consider
whether the accused had exceeded the right to private defence; Patori Devi v.
Amar Nath, (1988) Cr LJ 836: AIR 1988 SC 560.
(xii) Circumstantial evidence is not sufficient to convict accused when possibility of
deceased receiving fatal injury by fall cannot be ruled out; State of Rajasthan v.
Smt. Kamla, (1991) Cr LJ 602 (SC).
(xiii) In case of murder in which the conclusion of guilt is drawn by prosecution it
must be fully established beyond all reasonable doubt and consistent with the guilt
of the accused; S.D. Soni v. State of Gujarat, (1991) Cr LJ 330 (SC).
(xiv) Infliction of the injury on the vital part of the body with the agricultural
instrument by the enraged accused in a sudden quarrel—Held, accused did not
cause the injury intentionally; Patel Rasiklal Becharbhai v. State of Gujarat, AIR
1992 SC 1150.
(xv) (1) The test of "grave and sudden" provocation is whether a reasonable man,
belonging to the same class of society as the accused, placed in the situation in
which the accused was placed would be so provoked as to lose his self-control. (2)
In India, words and gestures may also, under certain circumstances, cause grave
and sudden provocation to an accused so as to bring his act within the First
Exception to Section 300. (3) The mental background created by the previous act
of the victim may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether the
subsequent act caused grave and sudden provocation for committing the offence.
Venkatesan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997) 3 Crimes 146 (Mad).
(xvi) Mere sudden quarrel would not entitle the accused to seek for Exception 4 to
section 300; Samuthram alias Samudra Rajan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997) 2
Crimes 185 (Mad).
(xvii) To invoke Exception 4 to section 300, four requirements must be satisfied,
namely (i) it was a sudden fight; (ii) there was no premeditation; (iii) the act was
done in a heat of passion; and (iv) the assailant had not taken any undue
advantage or acted in a cruel manner... The number of wounds caused during the
occurrence is not a decisive factor but what is important is that the occurrence
must have been sudden and unpremeditated and the offender must have acted in
a fit of anger. Of course, the offender must not have taken any undue advantage
or acted in a cruel manner. Where, on a sudden quarrel, a person in the heat of
the moment picks up a weapon which is handy and causes injuries, one of which
proves fatal, he would be entitled to the benefit of this Exception provided he has
not acted cruelly; Samuthram alias Samudra Rajan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997)
2 Crimes 185 (Mad).
(xviii) Where a mutual conflict develops and there is no reliable and acceptable
evidence as to how it started and as to who was the aggressor, it will not be
correct to assume private defence for both sides. Such a case will be a case of
sudden fight and conflict and has to be dealt with under Exception 4 to section 300
of the Code; Januram v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1997) 2 Crimes 582 (MP).

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