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Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 304 of IPC)

Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death;

Or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.”

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Section 304 of the Code provides punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Under it there are two kinds of punishment applying to two separate degrees of culpable homicide depending upon: (i) intention to cause death or bodily injury likely to cause death under Part-1 (i.e., para-1) and (ii) knowledge that the act is likely to cause death under Part-II (para-2). For conviction of the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 204, Part-I, the following two circumstances must be proved, viz., the act by which the death is caused is done: (a) with the intention of causing death; and (b) of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death. Under Part- 1 of Section 304, the punishment is imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and fine.

If the act is done with knowledge that is likely to cause death but without any intention to cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, the punishment is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both under Part-II of Sec. 304 of the Code.

The offence under Section 304 of IPC is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by Court of Session.

In Shanmugam v. State of T.N. [AIR 2003 SC 200], the accused stabbed the deceased, over a petty quarrel, with a spear in the abdomen and chest. The victim died after a week of septicaemia. The court imputed to the accused the intention of causing severe injury. He was punished under Part-I of Section 304.

In V. Sreedharan v. State of Kerala [AIR 1992 SC 754], where the accused, as a result of provocation caused in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel, chased the deceased to some distance and then gave the single fatal blow, it was held that the whole incident was a continuous sequence. Hence the conviction of the accused was shifted from under Section 300 to under Section 304, Part-I.

In K. Ramakoteswara Rao v. State of A.P. [1986 CLLJ 680 A.P.], a sudden quarrel arose between the accused and the deceased and the deceased threatened the accused with dire consequences. The accused stabbed the deceased with knife. It was held that the offence would come under Section 299(c). The court convicted the accused under Section 304-Part-l.

In Suresh Sitaram Surve v. State of Maharashtra [AIR 2003 SC 344], where the accused attacked the victim in the company of others and the eye-witnesses attributed to him only one injury out of others found on the person of the victim who died, conviction was altered to under Section 304, Part-I from that under Section 302.

In Narayan v. State of Madhya Pradesh [1992 Cr.LJ 1157 (MP)], the accused, in a sudden quarrel, delivered a single knife blow penetrating the heart of the victim, it was held that the accused could safely be credited with knowledge that such injury was likely to cause death of the victim attracting, 3rd part of Section 299 thereby making the act of the accused punishable under Section 304, Part-ll.

In State of Kerala v. Marti [1992 Cr.LJ, 1682], the accused pushed the victim into deep water. The Court held that the act of the accused fell under the 3rd part of Sec. 299 i.e., with the knowledge that he is likely by such an act to cause death”. The Court convicted the accused under Section 304, Part-ll.

In Public Prosecutor, Hyderabad H.C. v. Shaik Meera Valli (A-1) [1993 Cr.LJ 3320 (AP)], the accused poured kerosene on the woman having illicit relations with him and living with him and set her and the house on fire and closed the door from outside. She died of burn injuries seventeen days after the incident. It was held that the offence attracted Section 299 Explanation-ll. Accordingly, the accused was convicted under Section 304, Part-ll.

In Udham Ram v. State of Rajasthan [1999 Cr.LJ 2537 (Raj)], the accused killed his wife beating her throughout the day while he was in a drunken state. No weapon was used. It was usual with him to do the beating after drinking. The Court said that in such circumstances the intention to kill could not be inferred, but it could be said that he had knowledge that such a severe beating was likely to cause her death. Conviction was altered to one under Section 304 Part-ll.

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