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Section 304 IPC lays down Punishment for culpable homicide, not amounting to Murder. The offence of Culpable Homicide can be conducted either by knowledge, intention, or both to cause the death of another person.

It elucidates that “Whoever intends to cause the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for either description of a term which may extend to 10 years. ”Section 299 defines culpable homicide and Section 300 defines murder. These are two kinds of homicide which decrypt the death of one individual caused by another individual. The term ‘homicide’ or the French word ‘homicidum’ comes from the latin terms ‘homo’ meaning human and ‘cida’ meaning killing.

The susceptibility of the underlying section brings a comprehensive analysis of the scope of a crime to be determined as a ‘murder’ or ‘culpable homicide.’ The punishments awarded under culpable homicide are inclusive of life imprisonment up to ten years, fine or both. But, it is exclusive of the death penalty awarded under the offence of ‘murder’ depending upon the severity of the offence.

Prerequisites of commission of an offence under Section 304 IPC

  • The intention is mandatory for the commission of the act that results in personal injury or harm caused to the other person.
  • There must be death caused to the individual due to the harm inflicted upon the person.
  • The death caused to the person must be intended or in knowledge or both by the other party.
  • The severity of the offence and stipulations mentioned decide the punishment of the offence committed.

Consideration of Offences under Section 304 IPC

  • Cognizable Offence: The grave offences of rape, murder, theft etc are the crimes for which the arrest can be ascertained by a police officer on authority without a warrant.
  • Non-Bailable Offence: They are considered to be heinous offences in nature which contend the punishment of the crimes exceeding 3 years as compared to bailable offences. Hence, it is decided by the court whether to grant bail or not for these offences.
  • Non- Compoundable Offence: The offences considered herewith, proclaim that once a charge is filed for an offence by the victim; there cannot be a settlement initiated between the two to resolve the dispute. The formal procedure of a court to be taken to sessions court or magistrate as laid under CRPC must be followed.
  • Trial by Court of Sessions: Further Section 9 of CRPC proclaims that offences can be tried under the competent court of sessions.

Disputation between Culpable Homicide and Murder

It is often said that “All murders are culpable homicide but, not all culpable homicides are murders.”

  • The above statement signifies that the ‘offender’ committing the murder induces the intention of causing bodily harm or injury to another person that is likely to cause the death of the individual. However, the exception in culpable homicide proclaims that the intention to cause injury or harm may persist but the intention to cause the death of another individual may significantly not be present.
  • For example, there are two individuals A and B who are rivals. A is aware that B has a tumour in the abdomen. Due to a conflict, A decides to kill B and simultaneously, hits B in the stomach which leads to the death of B. In this scenario, it can be adjudged that A intended to kill B and was aware of B’s injury so, murder can be inflicted upon him.
  • But, if A would have hit B unknowingly, without the knowledge of the tumour in B’s abdomen then, depending upon the knowledge and purpose of the situation; A can be held liable for culpable homicide. Thus, the degree of injury caused and knowledge along with the intention to cause death are the essentials to determine culpable homicide or murder in a given circumstance.

Emphasis upon Section 304 B IPC

It proclaims that “Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.” This is further supported by the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, Section 2.

It initiates that the ‘Dowry Death’ to the wife must be caused by her husband or any other relative where the wife can be subjugated to trauma, harassment and cruelty by them. This will further stipulate the essential of constituting the crime under Section 304 B of IPC.

Reflection on the case

Analysis on Section 304 A of IPC

Sohanlal v State of Madhya Pradesh 2015

  • The petitioner was a bus driver at Maa Sharda Bus Travels and due to unforeseen circumstances, that resulted due to the negligence of the driver, an accident took place at Khandwa Indore road near village Gavalu where the bus collided with a Maruti Van.
  • Due to the incident taking place, three passengers of the van and two passengers of the bus were dead on spot. The case was filed with a subsequent FIR being filed by the passengers. But the learned counsel of the case requested, to direct the case under Section 304 Part II IPC as it was a case of a road accident.
  • On the contentions of the passengers, it was cited that the driver was intoxicated in the state of driving and on subsequent requests of the passengers to drive slowly, he revoked to follow the same. The death of the passengers was caused due to his negligence. Further, the counsel refers to the case of Manish Jalan v State of Karnataka stating that the case should be considered as an accident only though considering its grievous consequences under Section 304 A of IPC by amending and modifying the rules mentioned in the section to treat the cases in an effective manner. Further, the apex court never considered making a distinction between offences to be specifically treated under Section 304 A and Section 304 Part I and II. The prima facie of the subjective structure is construed to show the element of knowledge in the situation considering the evidence appropriated where there was no ground to frame a relevant charge.


The distinction drawn between the two is complex but can be ascertained in an efficient manner by determining the gravity of the offence caused by one individual to another individual along with considering knowledge and intention in each situation. The severity of the crime conducted determines the offence and the subjective punishment to be abducted for it. However, the distinction assists in drawing a comprehensive analysis between the two offences in a constructive manner.

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