Culpable Homicide amounting to Murder

Court :

Brief :
The accused, with the intention of killing B, gave him some dessert (Halva) mixed with poison. B ate a portion of halva and threw the rest, which was then picked up by a girl, C who further ate it and gave the rest to another kid. Both the kids died of poison effects while B recovered. It was argued if the accused was responsible for the murder of the kids too. The accused was found guilty of attempt to murder under Section 307 and punishment under Section 300 and 301 of the Indian Penal Code.

Citation :
(1912) 22 MLJ 333 Appellant- Mushnooru Suryanarayana Murthy Respondent- Emperor

Offences Affecting the Human Body

  • Topic: Culpable Homicide amounting to Murder
  • CASE: Emperor vs Mushnooru Suryanarayana Murthy

JUDGMENT DATE: 2nd January, 1912


Culpable Homicide by causing death of person other than person whose death was intended.


  • Justice Abdur Rahim
  • Justice Benson
  • Justice Sundara Aiyar


The accused, Suryanarayana Murthi, with the intention of killing Appala Narasimhulu (on whom the accused had effected large life insurances without Appala’s knowledge), in order to obtain the sums of money for which he was insured, gave Appala some dessert (halva) which had poison in it (containing arsenic and mercury in soluble form). Appala ate a portion of the halva and threw the rest away. Rajalakshmi, a girl aged 8-9 years, who was niece of the accused took some of the halva, ate it and gave the rest to another little child who ate it too, without the knowledge of the accused. The two kids who ate the poisoned halva died from effects of it, but Appala Narasimhulu, who’s death was intended by the accused, eventually recovered after facing severe effects from the poison. The incident happened at the accused’s brother-in-law’s house where the accused had asked Appala to meet him.

The question raised:

The main question raised in the case was whether, on the basis of the above mentioned facts, the accused is guilty of the murder of his niece, Rajalakshmi too, since he did not intend for her to die.


1. Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, defines Culpable Homicide. It was observed that this Section states that it is not necessary for the offender of Culpable Homicide to have an intention to kill a particular person. It is enough for conviction under this Section that “death of a person is caused,” by doing an act, with the intention of “causing death”.

2. Also, it not necessary under Section 299, that death be caused by direct actions of the accused.

3. These arguments lead to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that Culpable homicide is murder if the act by which death is caused is done with the intention of causing death.


The accused, Suryanarayana Murthi was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for attempting to murder Appala Narasimhulu. The accused then appealed against the conviction and sentence in Criminal Appeal no. 522 of 1910, and the Court, after hearing the appeal further confirmed the conviction and enhanced the sentence to ‘Transportation for life’. The accused, Suryanarayana Murthi was further charged by the Sessions Court with murder of Rajalakshmi and with attempt to murder of Appala Narasimhulu.


I am of the opinion that the accused is responsible for the murder of Rajalakshmi under section 301 of the Indian Penal Code and was indirectly related to the cause of her death. Even if the accused was not aware that his actions were likely to cause the death of his niece, he did intend to cause the death of Appala Narasimhulu. Thus, in my opinion, it does not matter who he intended to kill, but the presence of intention matters and the accused had a crystal clear intention of murdering Appala. Thus, I stand with the judgement of the Sessions Court.


Vanshika Kapoor
on 23 July 2018
Published in Others
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