Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder

When not murder, culpable homicide is a crime by itself. As stated above a situation must first become culpable homicide before it becomes murder.

Though dealt with in detail in the following section, the basic difference between culpable homicide and murder is the level of intention involved. Where there is a very high level of intention involved the act usually falls under murder.

In addition to this general understanding (that acts when not murder are culpable homicide) the IPC itself lists certain cases when death is caused to be read as culpable homicide not amounting to murder covers five specific situations:

1. Acts under grave and sudden provocation

When a person looses self control on account of certain situation and causes the death of some person. The provocation must be grave, it must be sudden, i.e. there must be no scope for pre meditation and thirdly, it must not be self invited so as to use it as an excuse to deprive a person of his/her life.

An example of this situation will be:

A has an affair with S. A’s husband returns home to find A in a compromising position with S. Seeing his wife in such a position and without further thinking he reaches out for a knife and kills S. S will have committed culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

2. When Private Defense is exceeded in good faith

In exercising private defense either with respect to property or person, if a person accidently exceeds his or her right in good faith or in wrong judgment and the act causes the death of a person, the act is culpable homicide and not murder

3. Exceeding the Ambit of Discharging Public Duties

When an officer or public servant exceeds his or her mandate of duties or authority given to him or an officer or public servant assisting him exceeds the same, it is considered culpable homicide not amounting to murder.


Inspector Chulbul was given instructions to capture Gabbar but not shoot him. When the transport convoy broke down and Gabbar moved from his seat Chulbul thought he is going to escape and shot him. At best Chulbul would have committed culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

4. When death is caused in sudden fight or heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel Similar to the first situation, when at times fight gets out of hand and a person hits someone or injures a person in such a fashion that may cause death of a person.

A CLAT question has been asked on this exception before. Let us study the example: _ Principles:

  1. If a person commits an act by which death is caused to another person and the act is done with the intention of causing death the person is liable for murder
  2. A person has a right of self defence to the extent of causing death to another provided he apprehends the death by the act of the latter

Facts: Shuva went to a hardware shop owned by Anup. Bargaining on some item Led to an altercation between the two and Shuva picked up a sharp object and hit at Anup. When Anup started bleeding, his wife Mridula intervened and she was also hIt by Shuva and she became unconscious.

Finding himself totally cornered, Anup delivered a severe blow to Shuva with a Sharp object. Shuva died instantly.

5. When death is caused of a person above eighteen years of age who voluntarily took the risk of death

When death is caused in a situation where a person has by his own consent put himself to risk the same would be culpable homicide and not murder

An example of this illustration would be:

Bhola instigates Bobby to commit suicide. Bobby after independently considering the suggestion and without any pressure from Bhola commits suicide. If Bhola was an adult , then Bhola would be guilty for assisting in culpable homicide.

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By Hassham

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