Exceptions To The Offence Of Murder Under Section 300 Of IPC


Murder is when one person kills another person. It’s a heinous crime and is punishable under the Indian Penal Code. and it’s defined under Section 300 of IPC.

Section 300- says that Culpable Homicide amount to murder. 

Culpable Homicide is defined under Sec. 299 and which says that if any person causes death by doing an act and his intention was involved in causing death or bodily injury as is likely to cause death or he has knowledge if he did something, he is likely to cause death the person commits the offense of Culpable Homicide.

From both of the definitions that all murders are Culpable Homicide but it is not necessary all Culpable Homicide is murder.

And because of this, these are the most confusing terms in IPC. according to Sir James Stephen, these two concepts i.e.,

Murder and Culpable Homicide are the weakest part of the IPC because

  1. They both defined closely
  2. It’s difficult to differentiate between both of them
  3. As the causing death is common in both of them.

Difference between Murder and Culpable Homicide:

                     Murder                  Culpable Homicide
1. Defined under section-300

2. Actus Reus: subject to certain exceptions, Culpable Homicide is murder if the act by which death is caused is done.

3. Mens Rea: Intention:

a. Of causing death.

b. Causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

4. Knowledge: the act is dangerous that it must be in all probability cause death.

5. Punishment under section:302. It is much heavier than Culpable Homicide. Death penalty or life imprisonment and fine.

6. Murder is species

7. Every murder is primarily a culpable homicide.

8. More serious than Culpable Homicide.

9. Example: A went into a market and purchased a small knife and stabbed him with the help of small knife.

1. Defined under section – 299

2. Actus Reus: A person commits Culpable Homicide, if the act by which the death caused is done.

3. Mens Rea: Intention:

a. Of causing death.

b. Causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

4. Knowledge: the knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.

5. Punishment under section:304. It is lesser than murder. Punishment is life imprisonment or10 years or fine or 10years imprisonment.

6. It is genus

7. Every Culpable Homicide is not murder.

8. Less serious when compared with murder.

9. Example: A went into market and purchased a big sharp knife and went to B and stabbed him with the help of big knife.

Exception Under Section 300 Of IPC[1]

There are certain exceptions to the offence of murder under Section 300 of IPC. According to this provision murder can be reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and punishable under Section 304 IPC and not under Section 302 IPC.

So, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 recognize 5 exceptions to the offense of murder and they are:

  1. Grave and sudden provocation
  2. Private defence
  3. Exercise of legal power
  4. Predemination in a sudden fight
  5. Consent

Exception 1. Grave and sudden provocation:

By the sudden and grave provocation if a person loses his self-control and because of this, he causes the death of another person who gave the provocation or causes the death of another person by mistake or accident. [2]

Essentials conditions are:

  1. Most important that the intention of the accused should not be Malafide.
  2. Provocation must be sudden and grave
  3. The accused should be provoked by the deceased
  4. Accused lose his self-control or controlling power.
  5. And the accused committed the murder before he cools down.

But it’s very much important to prove that the provocation was given by the person that must be grave and sudden.

And for this, the question arose in front of the court whether the grave and sudden provocation is enough to prevent the offense from amounting to murder?

So, here Supreme Court give Reasonable man’s test in the case of

K.M. Nanavati Hospital v. State of Maharashtra[3]

The court observed and laid down that:

  1. Gestures and words are like, that they give sudden and grave provocation.
  2. For the purpose of determining, the grave, and sudden provocation a test is established under which is called a reasonable man’s test that whether any reasonable man having the same capacity and belonging to the same class of society in which the accused was placed would be so provoked to lose his self-control.
  3. The mental background of the previous act of the victim is to be taken into consideration whether the act was sufficient to cause sudden and grave provocation.
  4. The fatal blow on the person giving a sudden and grave provocation should be immediately done before him to calm down.

Mahmood v. State [4]

The certain essentials need to be fulfilled in order to come under the ambit of the section:

  1. The provocation must be sudden: means that should be unexpected and it should not be planned beforehand and moreover, the time between homicide and provocation must be short.
  2. The provocation must be grave: a statement given by the accused that he was provoked will not be accepted in the court. And for this, the court goes for a reasonable test to check out whether the provocation was grave or not.
  3. Losing self-control: and if from both of the provocation court is satisfied then the court will assume that the person loses his self-control.

There are some provisos of exceptions-1 which is said to be limitations:[5]

Firstly: that the provocation is not voluntarily by the offender for killing or harm to any person.

Secondly: that the provocation should not be done in obedience to the law or by the public servant while lawful exercising.

Thirdly:  that the provocation should not be done in the right of private defence.


1. A, under the influence of passion excited by a provocation given by Z, intentionally kills. Y, Z’s child. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was not given by the child, and the death of the child was not caused by accident or misfortune in doing an act caused by the provocation.

2. A is lawfully arrested by Z, a bailiff. A is excited to sudden and violent passion by the arrest and kills Z. This is murder, in as much as the provocation was given by a thing done by a public servant in the exercise of his powers.

3. Z strikes B. B is by this provocation excited to violent rage. A, a bystander, intending to take advantage of B’s rage, and to cause him to kill Z, puts a knife into B’s hand for that purpose. B kills Z with the knife. Here B may have committed only culpable homicide, but A is guilty of murder.

Exception 2: Private defense [6]

It’s not murder if the offender done in good faith of the right of private defense of person or property in which he exceeds the power and thus causing the death of the person and against whom is exercising his right without any knowledge or intentions. But if the exceed his right of private defense and that will be intentionally then he will be amounting to murder. If the defense is unintentional.[7]

Essentials ingredients are:

  1. The act must be done in private defense in the context of person or property.
  2. It should be bonafide or good faith
  3. The act should be like that the person exceeds his right given by law.

Illustration: Z attempts to horsewhip A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt to A. A draws out a pistol. Z persists in the assault. A believes in good faith that he can be no other means prevent himself from being horsewhipped, shoots Z dead. A has not committed murder, but an only culpable homicide.

In the case of Ranbir Singh & Or’s v. State of Madhya Pradesh [8]

The court held that the burden of proof is on the accused. Such a burden can be reduced by establishing either on the basis of cross-examination or by abducing’s the defense evidence.

Lachhmi Koheri v. State of Bihar[9] (AIR 1960 Pat 62, 1960 CriLJ 271)

Fact: the hawaldar went in civil costume to arrest the appellant and confronted him. Then Appellant take out of his chura and stabbed in Hwaldar’s arm’s not once, many times he stabbed on his arms. therefore, Hawaldar dies.

Held: The Supreme Court held that the appellant takes private defense but the intention of causing more harm is not necessary for his defense. And therefore, the appellant case did not under this section and he held liable for the murder not for culpable homicide.

Bhanwar Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh [10]  (16 May, 2008)

In this, the court held that if the person wants to take the benefit of this exception, he has to prove that he had done under in private defense. But also, the court has the power that they can reject the plea if the person harms the other person that was not necessary and causing the death.

Exception 3: Exercise in Legal Power[11]

Culpable homicide, not murder if the public servant or aiding a public servant does his work for the advancement of public justice and exceeds his power given by law and in a bonafide manner but without the ill-will towards the person whose death is caused.

Example: the police want to arrest the person and if that person stabbed or abscond him and because of this police shoot that person. Then in this case police were not liable for the murder.

In Dakhi Singh v. State (1955 CriLJ 905)

Facts: the police officer while discharging his duty fire another person in the place of a thief who was trying to run.

In this, the court held that the police officer has bonafide intention and he get benefit under this section.

Exception 4: Premeditation in a sudden fight [12]

It means that the fight was unexpected or premeditated. No intention from both of the parties to kill or to cause the death of the person. And moreover, it doesn’t matter which party has first assaulted or who has offered a provocation.

Essentials ingredients are:

  1. The fight must between the accused and the person who is killed
  2. The people involved in a sudden fight
  3. In the heat of passion of a sudden quarrel
  4. The offender doesn’t take any unfair advantage
  5. The offender doesn’t act in a cruel or unusual manner

This was decided in the case of Surendra Kumar v. Union Territory, Chandigarh 

Exception 5: consent[13]

It’s not murder when the person gives consent to his/her own death.

Important points to be remember

  1. Being above the age of eighteen years
  2. Consent is given by the deceased
  3. It should be free and voluntarily

Illustration: A instigate B for the suicide who is under age and he is incapable of given his consent and because of this A is liable for Murder.

Dashrath Paswan v. State of Bihar [14](19 January 2012)

Facts: the accused was in class 10th and he failed in the exam and because of this reason he wants to end his life and therefore he told his wife whose age is 19 years old. And he told his decision to his wife. She told him first to kill herself and then kill himself and accused kill her wife but before he kills himself, he was arrested by the police.

The court held that the deceased did not give her consent under the misconception and therefore be entitled to take the benefit under this exception.


So, these are the Exception of section 300 in which if someone cause injury or death to another person then he will get the benefit under these exceptions. But the person has to fulfill all the important points which are described under this Section. There is a say that there is always an exception to everything. And this section gives protection to the accused, if he has done any act under the private defence, sudden fight, consent, etc then the accused can take the benefits of these sections. But the court has a duty that he will take the cases very seriously and read all the important points and facts of the case.


[2] https://www.advocatekhoj.com

[3] 1962 SCR Supl. (1) 567

[4] AIR 1961 All 538

[5] https://www.advocatekhoj.com

[6] https://www.advocatekhoj.com

[7] https://www.advocatekhoj.com

[8] 1 June 2018

[9] https://indiankanoon.org

[10] https://indiankanoon.org

[11] https://indiankanoon.org

[12] https://www.advocatekhoj.com

[13] https://www.advocatekhoj.com

[14] https://indiankanoon.org

This article is written by Radhika Goyal, LL.M (2nd Year) student at New Law College, Pune

Also Read – When The Right Of Private Defence Of The Body Extends To Causing Death?

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