SECTION 302 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Punishment for murder

Description of IPC Section 302

According to section 302 of Indian penal code, Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.


Offence : Murder

Punishment : Death or Imprisonment for Life + Fine

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Non-Bailable

Triable : Court of Session

Murder under the Indian Penal Code

Murder is one of the most heinious recognised and punishable by every country (and society). Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code defines murder. This Section states that culpibable homicide is considered murder in the following:

  1. The act was done i.e. person is killed with an intention to cause such death;

  2. The act was done with intention of causing such bodily injury that the offender has knowledge/is aware that such bodily injury would cause death;

  3. The act was done with the intention of causing bodily injury which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death of a person

  4. The person committing such an act has the knowledge that his/her act is very dangerous in nature and that it might cause death or such bodily injury, and with this knowledge commits the act. 

Certain exceptions (where culpibable homicide is not considered murder) are also provided in Section 300. These are given below:

  1. When the act is done (i.e. the person is killed) in order to defend himself/herself of sudden harm (to body or property) also known as right to private defence;

  2. When such act is done by a public servant who is authorized to do such act in order to protect and promote public justice;

  3. When such an act is done without any 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.

  4. When the act is done to a person who is above the age of 18 and suffers such death or takes the risk of death with his own consent. 

Punishment for Murder under Section 302, IPC

Section 302 of the IPC provides for punishement of murder. According to the Section, anyone who commits the crime of murder shall be punished with death, or life imprisonment, and fine. Thus, since murder is a serious and grave crime, only the most serious punishments that are allowed in India i.e. life imprisonment and death (and fine), are ordered to be given to the offender. 

It is only after the long trial procedure including arguments, witnesses, evidences, cross-examinations, etc. of both the prosecutor(victim) and the accused’s sides, that the Courts give their final decisions. 

Life Imprisonment is Rule, Death Sentence an Exception

In a landmark judgment of Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, it was mandated that death sentence (as a punishment for murder given under S. 302 of IPC) can only be awarded in the rarest of reare cases (most unusual, gruesome cases where even life imprisonment as a punishment would not suffice). The Supreme Court has rules in landmark judgments that life imprisonment is rule and death sentence is only an exception, when it comes to punishing the guilty individual for murder. 

There have been several instances where death penalty was not awarded to the criminal for reasons such as:

  1. No pre-planning of murder,

  2. The guilty individual was not a constant threat to society,

  3. No such evidence to prove that the guilty person cannot be reformed and rehabilitated in the society,

  4. The age of the guilty person is very less, etc. 

Death sentence has to be ordered in very rare cases and only when the sole choice of punishment that suits the crime is death penalty. The idea behind this is that life is extremely valuable. Rarest of rare case would be one where the murder was committed “in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting or dastardly manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation of the community….The community would withdraw any protection against the imposition of the death penalty (in the rarest of rare cases) when its collective conscience is so shocked that it will expect the holders of judicial power centre to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability or otherwise of retaining death penalty”.  

What to do if involved in a Murder case?

A crime as serious as murder is a critical case to deal with, either for the victim or the accused. A person charged with murder can face severe penalties if convicted. On the other hand, it is similarly difficult for the prosecution to prove the charges levied by him/ her. This is why it is important for both the victim and the accused to thoroughly prepare for the case. A person involved in such a case must know all his/her rights before and after arrest. For this purpose, one can take the help of his/her lawyer. One should also prepare a timeline of events and take it down on a piece of paper so that it is easier to brief the lawyer about the case. This will also help the lawyer to formulate a strategy to successfully conduct the trials and convince the court to adjudge in your favour.

Further, it is important to have a fair understanding of the law involved in a murder case. One must sit with his/her lawyer and understand the procedure as well as the law governing the case. It is also critical to perform your own research and understand the risks involved and how you can overcome the same.

What to do if involved in a false Murder case?

There may be instances where an individual must have been falsely accused of committing murder. In such cases, the accused must talk to his/her lawyer and explain the entire scenario to him/her without even minor alterations as such changes can have a big impact on the case. You should discuss the case thoroughly with the lawyer, even multiple times if you believe that you were not able to make your lawyer understand some of the technicalities involved in the case earlier. You must also do your own research about the case and prepare yourself accordingly for the trials with the help of your lawyer. You should follow your lawyer’s instructions properly and take advice for things even as minor as your appearance in the court.

How to get bail in a Murder case?

Getting bail in a case as serious as murder is not an easy task for obvious reasons. The severity of the offence is so much that the crime has been characterized as a non-bailable offence. In order to get bail in such cases, an accused would require very strong reasons. The accused will have to apply for anticipatory bail before the arrest is made. The court will consider various essentials such as antecedents of the accused, his status in the society, the motive for the offence, police charge sheet, etc. After considering all the essentials if the reasons favour accused bail will be granted. It is crucial to take assistance from an experienced criminal lawyer in cases like these.

What happens if a criminal charge is not dismissed?

Being charged with a crime, whether major or minor, is a serious matter. A person facing criminal charges, such as mentioned under section 300 and section 302, risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, and loss of relationships and future job prospects, among other things. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case. Thus, it is crucial to have a good criminal lawyer by your side when charged with a crime as serious as mentioned under section 300 and section 302 who can guide you with case and can help get the charges dismissed.

You need the help of a Lawyer

If you are filing or defending your case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal code, you will need the help of a criminal lawyer. A good criminal lawyer is a prerequisite to ensuring that you are guided properly and in the right direction. A lawyer having substantial experience in handling criminal cases can guide you through the court procedure and can help you prepare a solid defense for your case. He can prepare you for cross-examinations and guide you on how to answer the prosecution’s questions. A criminal lawyer is an expert in dealing with criminal cases knows how to tackle a particular case owing to his years of experience. Having a good criminal lawyer by your side you can ensure a successful result in your case in the minimum time possible.

FAQ's on IPC Section 302

What offence is defined under IPC 302?

IPC 302 Offence: Murder.

What is the punishment for IPC 302 Case?

The punishment for IPC 302 is Death or Imprisonment for Life + Fine.

Is IPC 302 cognizable offence or non-cognizable offence?

IPC 302 is a Cognizable.

How to file/defend your case for IPC 302 offence?

Use LawRato for filing/defending your case under IPC 302 with the help of best criminal lawyers near you.

Is IPC 302 bailable or non-bailable offence?

IPC 302 is a Non-Bailable offence.

In what court can IPC 302 be tried?

IPC 302 is tried in the court of Court of Session.

Legal Questions Answered by Top Lawyers on IPC 302

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