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SECTION 304 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder


Last Updated: 01 May, 2024
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty


Table of Contents
  1. IPC 304 in Simple Words
  2. Section 304- Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder
  3. Punishment under Section 304 of IPC
  4. How is punishment determined under Section 304 of IPC?
  5. How can a lawyer help?
  6. IPC Section 304 related FAQs

Section 304 IPC states that 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.



IPC 304 in Simple Words

IPC Section 304 states that if someone causes death without intending murder, there are two situations:

  • First, if there's intent to cause death or injury likely to cause death, they could get life imprisonment or up to ten years in prison, plus a fine.

  • Second, if they know their act might cause death but don't intend it, they could face up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

The Supreme Court noted in the Anbazhagan v. State case that the first part treats it as murder initially, then applies exceptions to lessen the charge. The second part doesn't establish murder at all.

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Offence : Culpable homicide not amounting to murder, If act by which the death is caused is done with intention of causing death, etc.


Punishment : Imprisonment for Life or 10 Years + Fine


Cognizance : Cognizable


Bail : Non-Bailable


Triable : Court of Session



Offence : If act is done with knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, etc.


Punishment : 10 Years or Fine or Both


Cognizance : Cognizable


Bail : Non-Bailable


Triable : Court of Session



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Section 304- Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder

Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code states that 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. The accused will be liable for 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.


Punishment under Section 304 of IPC

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 and (ii) knowledge that the act is likely to cause death. For conviction of the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304, 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 Section 304, the punishment is imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and fine.


How is punishment determined under Section 304 of IPC?

In cases where harm is caused without intending death but with knowledge of its likelihood, Section 304 of the law prescribes punishment. This offence is taken seriously; it's cognizable, meaning arrest can happen without a court order, non-bailable, and tried in a Court of Session. In the case of Shanmugam v. State of Tamil Nadu, the accused used a spear in a quarrel, causing fatal injury to the victim who succumbed to septicemia a week later. The court found the accused culpable for intending severe harm and sentenced him under Section 304.

In V. Sreedharan v. State of Kerala, 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 Section 300 to Section 304.

The bare reading of the section makes it crystal clear that the first and the second clause of the section refer to intention apart from the knowledge and the third clause refers to knowledge alone and not the intention. Both the expression "intent" and "knowledge" postulate the existence of a positive mental attitude which is of different degrees. The mental element in culpable homicide i.e. mental attitude towards the consequences of conduct is one of intention and knowledge. If that is caused in any of the aforesaid three circumstances, the offence of culpable homicide is said to have been committed. Section 300 IPC, however, deals with murder although there is no clear definition of murder provided in Section 300 IPC. It has been repeatedly held by Courts that culpable homicide is the genus and murder is species and that all murders are culpable homicide but not vice versa. Section 300 IPC further provides for the exceptions which will constitute culpable homicide not amounting to murder and punishable under Section 304. When and if there are intent and knowledge then the same would be a case of Section 304 and if it is only a case of knowledge and not the intention to cause murder and bodily injury, then the same would be a case of Section 304.

If you have more doubts about Section 304 IPC, consider LawRato’s ‘Ask a Free Legal Question’ or ‘Free Legal Advice’ feature and get solutions to all of your legal issues. For other IPC-related matters visit Indian Penal Code,1860 | IPC Sections | lawrato.com.


How can a lawyer help?

A case such as the one mentioned under Section 304 of IPC is a complex issue to deal with in a country like India where there is a huge pile of criminal cases pending in the court of law. Criminal procedure in India involves various steps that would require you to deal with the police at numerous stages and would also involve going to court. This is why it is essential to have a criminal lawyer to help you through the procedure and to guide you with the best possible ways to resolve the criminal issue. An experienced lawyer who is an expert in handling criminal cases can help you draft an effective complaint that can hold your case in the court on solid grounds and can also represent you in the court to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

The Section 304 IPC punishes culpable murder that does not constitute murder. The Section 304A IPC punishes those who cause death through negligence. The Revision Petitioner was displeased by the Court's dismissal of the discharge application he had made under Section 227 CrPC.





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Frequently Asked Questions


What are the cases for Section 304 A IPC?

Abdul Subhan vs. State (Nct Of Delhi), 27 September 2006. ... Mahadev Prasad kaushik vs State Of U.P. & Anr, 17 October 2008. ... Suleman Rehiman Mulani & Anr vs State Of Maharashtra on 1 December, 1967. ... Alister Anthony Pareira vs State Of Maharashtra on 12 January, 2012. ... State Tr.P.S.Lodhi Colony...