“Crime is regarded as somewhat down marker by civil lawyers. Bankers and property developers are thought to be more desirable customers than indecent assaulters or petty thieves, or at least create a better impression when they are sitting round in the waiting room. And yet, while civil law is nearly always about money, criminal law is concerned with more vital matters, such as life, love and the liberty of the subject”
Death is not always the worst evil that can befall us, but we mostly so regard it. Homicide is the most serious crime a person can commit against another human being. This is a crime which is unacceptable in Indian society and there is no question this crime requires a fitting punishment. The justice system can never fully remedy the situation for homicide survivors but what it can do is provide punishment to those who deserved it. The laws which govern such a horrific act are quite complex because there are different types of homicide, circumstances surrounding the death can be complicated and unclear, and it is difficult to understand the reasoning of those who could actually commit this violation of human life. When someone is charged with homicide, the type of homicide must be determined and then if guilty a sentence issued.
In most of the western countries homicides are classified broadly into murder and manslaughter, whereas in India homicides are classified into murder, culpable homicide not amounting to murder and negligent homicide. Most of the criminal scholars, jurists and law students consider culpable homicide not amounting to murder and manslaughter to be the same. This is a great misconception, as, though manslaughter and culpable homicide not amounting to murder have many accessories and characteristics in common differ on intricate grounds. Manslaughter has much a broader horizon when compared to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. As no conceptual understanding with regard to the distinction between manslaughter and culpable homicide not amounting to murder, there is great need to find out the intricacies, similarities and dissimilarities between them. In the project, the word culpable homicide at most of the occurrences should be construed as culpable homicide not amounting to murder as other wise the context requires. On whole, this project aims to act as an eye opener for those who construe and consider the vivacious but divergent concepts of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and manslaughter to be the same.
Death is not always the worst evil that can befall us, but we mostly so regard it. For this reason various kinds of unlawful killing short of murder are grouped under what is legally the serious crime of manslaughter. This is a 'common law' offence. That is to say the offence has been developed by judges and is not contained in a legislative statute.
The lesser offense of manslaughter has traditionally lain in the shadow of murder, defined largely by reference to the greater offense. If not murder, a culpable, careless act that causes the death of another must be manslaughter.
The definition of manslaughter under English Law is supposed to be the same as that of murder except that the words “with malice afterthought either express or implied” are omitted. In fact the two crimes differ in a further respect, that certain exceptions from murder (provocation, diminished responsibility, suicide pacts), not stated in the traditional definition, reduce the offence to manslaughter.
During the formative period of the common law the distinction between murder and manslaughter was of great moment for the defendant, because murder was punished by death, unless the crown respited the sentence, whereas a person convicted of manslaughter generally escaped that penalty owing to the indulgence known as benefit of clergy.
For a more lucid understanding let us proceed to the next sub sections, which highlight the historical background /origin and the various forms of manslaughter with germane case analysis
The crime of voluntary manslaughter dates back to the common law of England. Voluntary manslaughter appears to be essentially a legal compromise between murder and exoneration, recognizing but not excusing a human weakness consisting of an intense (or irresistible) passion caused by serious provocation, resulting in homicide. In fact, the crime of manslaughter was created out of necessity; it enabled the arm of the law to reach those wrongful killings that fell outside of the definition of murder. Specifically, "provocation manslaughter " was created under the common law of England in order to avoid the death penalty, which was mandatory in all cases of murder.
Initially, there was no difference between the punishment for murder and that for what would now be called manslaughter; both were felonies and thus were punished by death. At early common law, however, lesser homicides, those other than murder, were subject to a "general pardon." One way of avoiding the harsh consequences of the common law was by claiming the benefit of clergy. Those who successfully claimed this benefit were immune from the harsh jurisdiction of the common-law courts and were tried in the much more lenient ecclesiastical courts run by the church. Over time, the law extended this privilege to much of the general population.
Thus, under the common law, whether a crime was subject to the benefit of clergy determined whether it was punished by the death penalty. Courts classified homicides with malice aforethought as murder and withdrew them from the benefit of clergy. The remaining unlawful homicides, by being allowed the benefit of clergy, were not subject to capital punishment. For this grade of homicides, the common law created the new term, "manslaughter." Since malice aforethought separated capital from noncapital homicide, the common law defined manslaughter as an unlawful killing without malice aforethought. The distinction between the different types of manslaughter was factual, not legal, as both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter carried the same punishment: one year's imprisonment and branding on the thumb.
FORMS OF MANSLAUGHTER
Culpable homicide includes murder, manslaughter and infanticide. Homicide that is not culpable is not an offence. Manslaughter is a culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide or murder that is reduced to manslaughter because of the loss of self control due to provocation .
California Penal Code section 192 defines manslaughter as "the unlawful killing of a human being without malice." This definition is a holdover from the common law.
The law books recognize two forms of manslaughter i.e. voluntary and involuntary though the verdict of the jury does not distinguish between them.
Voluntary manslaughter means an act of murder reduce to man slaughter on account of the mitigating circumstances like provocation, diminished responsibility and suicide pact.
Basically, voluntary manslaughter is mitigated intent to kill murder.
The following is a table which shows the number of cases that have been reduced from murder to manslaughter in the year 2000.
Involuntary manslaughter means the form in which there is or need be no intention (voluntas) to kill or do grievous bodily harm (a strange meaning of involuntary). There are two sub-species both of them as will be painfully seen in this section exhibiting the common law at its worst. The two sub-species are:
• reckless manslaughter, and
• constructive man slaughter
The Model Penal Code defines its version of involuntary manslaughter as criminal homicide "committed recklessly." The drafters recognized that, due to the definition of "recklessly," this represented a substantial innovation, both requiring the creation of a particularly high degree of risk and eliminating "all forms of negligence in the sense of inadvertent risk creation."
Historically, involuntary manslaughter has been surprisingly difficult to define. It was typically classified as a homicide resulting from criminal negligence, i.e. a criminally negligent homicide. Criminally negligent homicide is the killing of a human being that results from an act that a reasonable person would know to involve an unreasonable and high risk of serious injury to another human being.
The classic definition of reckless manslaughter is in Bateman , where the Court of Criminal Appeal said:
“To support an indictment for manslaughter the prosecution must prove…that the negligence or incompetence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the State and conduct deserving punishment”
Reckless manslaughter requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant caused the death in question by an act or omission amounting in either case to what is called recklessness (in a special sense) in breach of the duty of care. One is always under a duty of care not to cause the death of another by positive act of negligence, so that nothing turns in practice on the requirement of duty in cases of this sought.
A drug addict died as the result of an injection of heroin given him by the defendant. The judge directed the jury that it was manslaughter to cause death by an act that was "grossly negligent or, in other words, reckless" on its face, a similar equation to that propounded in Lamb . A conviction of manslaughter was upheld on appeal. One might have thought that the judge meant to convey to the jury that gross negligence (alternatively called recklessness) was sufficient. But the Court of Appeal seemed to understand the direction as meaning the opposite: that the gross negligence required had to involve subjective recklessness, so that it had to be shown that the defendant knew that injecting heroin could give rise to death or grievous bodily harm. The defendant in giving evidence had said that he had no idea that the injection could cause death or serious bodily harm, and on this the court commented that "of course in deciding whether the appellant had himself acted recklessly one would have to have regard to the fact, if it was accepted, that he did not know about the potentiality of the drug."
Walker v. Superior Court
In late February of 1984, four-year-old Shauntay Walker came down with what seemed like the flu. After four days of mild illness the child developed a stiff neck. Consistent with her beliefs as a Christian Scientist, Shauntay's mother Laurie did not seek medical attention, but instead treated Shauntay through prayer. Laurie Walker contacted a church prayer practitioner who prayed for and visited the child, and a Christian Science nurse who attended the child on three separate occasions. The child's illness, later determined to be meningitis, grew progressively worse, however. Shauntay lost weight and became irritable and disoriented. After a seventeen-day illness, Shauntay exhibited heavy and irregular breathing. A short time later she died. The Sacramento District Attorney later charged Laurie Walker with involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangerment for the death of her daughter.
In a pretrial review of the charge against Walker, the California Supreme Court rejected her proposed defense of good motive. The court held that involuntary manslaughter depends on criminal negligence, determined by whether "a reasonable person in defendant's position would have been aware of the risk involved." Ms. Walker's concern and good faith in treating her child would not be an excuse.
Constructive manslaughter means killing as a result of certain kinds of unlawful and dangerous acts. The unlawful act must be such as all sober and reasonable people- would inevitably recognize must subject the other person to, at least, the risk of some harm resulting there from, albeit not serious harm.
At one time it was held that a killing, though unintentional, was murder if it occurred in the course of any unlawful act; so an accidental killing while trying to steal a fowl was murder. This doctrine of constructive mur¬der- was limited in the course of time by judicial decision and statute; and the area progressively freed from the law of murder was simultaneously and automatically occupied by the doctrine of constructive manslaughter. What had been murder became manslaughter. Hence, for several centur-ies, it was axiomatic that a killing in the course of an unlawful act was at least manslaughter by construction of law.
The present law of constructive manslaughter contains some firm rules and some outstanding doubts. It may be summarized as follows. For the doctrine to operate:
• there must be an act (query as to an omission)
• which is unlawful, within certain rules, and also
• the death must be a direct consequence of the unlawful act
In Newbury two 15-year-old boys pushed a piece of paving stone from a railway bridge in the path of an oncoming train. The case for the defence was that they intended only to cause it to hit the roof of the driving cab or a coach, where it might have done some damage but not injured anybody (no reference to this defence is made in the report). Unfortunately the stone went through the window of the driving cab and killed the guard who was inside. The trial judge instructed the jury in terms of constructive manslaughter; the jury convicted, and the conviction was affirmed by the House of Lords.
It was a case in Privy Council where the defendants threw stones at V who ran away from them. As he ran he tripped and was later found to be dead, it being possible that the death was caused by the fall rather than by hits with the stones. The judge in summing up said that "where one person causes in the mind of another by violence or the threat of violence a well-founded sense of danger to life or limb as to cause him to suffer or [and?] to try to escape and in the endeavor to escape he is killed, the person creating that state of mind is guilty at least of manslaughter." The jury convicted of manslaughter, and the conviction was upheld on appeal.
CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER
Presently in India, there are three types of offences that an offender can be charged with in relation to homicide. These include:
• Culpable homicide not amounting to murder
• Negligent homicide
As the project aims to distinguish culpable homicide not amounting to murder and manslaughter, the other two types of homicides (i.e. murder and negligent homicide) are not discussed at depth.
Culpable homicide is the first kind of unlawful homicide as defined in section 299, I.P.C. it purports to define and explain as to when an act of causing death constitutes culpable homicide. The important elements are:
• Causing death
• By doing an act
• The act of causing death must be done,
• With the intention of causing death
• With the intention of causing bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or
• With the knowledge that such act is likely to cause death
Thus though an act may cause death it will not amount to culpable homicide unless the above conditions are satisfied.
Causing death: In order to hold a person liable under the impugned section there must be causing of death of a human being as defined under section 46 of the code. Causing of death must be of a living human being which means a living person, woman, child and at least partially an infant under delivery or just delivered.
Death caused of person other than intended: To attract the provisions of this section it suffices if the death of a human being is caused whether the person was intended to be killed or not. For instance, A counsels B to poison his mother. B accordingly obtains poison (which could cause death likely) from A and gives it to his mother in a roasted apple. The mother gives the apple to a child of B, not knowing it contains poison, and the child eats it and dies. The act of A amounts to culpable homicide.
By doing an act: Death may be caused by a hundred and one means, such as by poisoning, drowning, striking, beating etc. As explained under 32, I.P.C the word ‘act’ has been given a wider meaning in the code inasmuch as it includes not only an act of commission, but illegal omissions as well.
Death caused by effect of words: There may be instances whereby death can be caused by the effect of words in the particular circumstances of a case. In such a situation the accused will be liable to the same extent as in the case of a physical assault causing death.
Death caused without intention by doing an unlawful act: The penal code has made it clear in illustration (c) attached to section 299, I.P.C that a person will not be liable for culpable homicide, if he causes the death of a person while doing an unlawful act, provided he did not intend to kill or cause death by doing an act that he knew was likely to have the effect.
Mental element in culpable homicide: The word intention means the mental attitude of the man who decides to bring about a certain result. Every act is followed by consequences. The consequence, necessary to constitute the offence of culpable homicide is death. By intention is meant the expectation of the consequence in question and intention does not, therefore necessarily involve premeditation or thinking out the killing before hand.
The difference between an intention to cause death and an intention to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death is a difference of degrees only. The latter is degree lower in the scale of criminality than the former. In either case the act of the accused must have caused death. The word “likely” used in the section means probably which has to be distinguished from possibly.
CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER (EXCEPTIONS TO MURDER):
There are certain exceptional situations in which murder is reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The exceptions are:
• Grave and sudden provocation
• Private defense
• Exercise of legal power
• Without premeditation in a sudden fight, and
Exception 1-Grave and sudden provocation:
The circumstances under which the offence of murder will be reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder with regard to grave and sudden provocation are:
• The deceased must have given provocation to the accused
• The provocation must be grave
• The provocation must be sudden
• The offender by reason of the said provocation should have deprived of his power of self control
• The accused killed the deceased during the continuance of the deprivation of power of self control
• The offender must have caused the death of the person who gave the provocation or that of any other person by mistake or accident
In Murugian , the Madras High Court held that whereas the deceased had not only committed adultery, but later openly swore in the face of the husband that she would persist in such adultery and also abused the husband for remonstrating against such conduct the case was covered by the first exception to section 300 of the Indian Penal Cp0de. The decision indicated that the mental state created by an earlier act may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether a subsequent act was sufficient to make the assailant lose his self-control
Exception 2- Exceeding the right of private defense:
Exception 2 deals with those cases wherein a person exceeds the right of private defense. If the excess is intentional, the offence is murder, if unintentional; it is culpable homicide not amounting to murder. That is to say the exception would apply if the accused caused the death of a person without premeditation and that, when the accused caused the death of the deceased he had no intention of causing more harm than was necessary for the purpose of defense (even if caused more harm than was necessary for the purpose of private defense), and the act was done in good faith.
In Lakshmi Koeri v. State of Bihar a sub-inspector deputed the havildar and the constable to arrest the appellant but there no order in writing. The havildar was not in uniform there was no evidence to show that the appellant was acquainted to the havildar prior to the date of the encounter. The havildar confronted the appellant then took out a knife from his waist band and gave him a blow on his left arm. The havildar fell into a nala by the side of the road still holding the collar of the appellant who fell on top of him. The appellant then gave several blows to the havildar and then fled away from the nala. The havildar died very shortly afterwards. Held that the appellant initially had the right of the private defense but subsequently intended to cause far more harm than was necessary for his defense hence the appellants case did not come under exception 2 to section 300 IPC and therefore guilty u/s 302 of IPC for murder
Exception 3 -Public servant exceeding his powers:
This exception has been provided to protect a public servant or a person aiding a public servant, if either of them exceeds the power given for the advancement of public justice. The exception clause will not apply if the act done is illegal or against public policy and not authorized by law, or the person glaringly exceeds the power given to him by law.
In the case of Dukhi Singh v. State , the appellant, a constable of the RPF, while on duty arrested a man under suspicious circumstances who was standing near a goods wagon while the train had stopped at Hadlda Khas station near Allahabad, and took him to his compartment. When the train had moved a few paces the arrested man jumped down from it. As soon as he escaped the appellant followed him with a rifle. Suspecting that the train fireman had concealed the thief he enquired from the fireman where the culprit was and further said that he would shoot him. The fire man asked the appellant why he would shoot the thief whereupon the appellant shot him with his rifle. The fireman later died.
The appellant pleaded that he had been given orders by havildar Kashi Singh to shoot at the thief and further contended that it was case of pure accident that instead of hitting the thief he hit the fireman.
Held that, in effecting his arrest after the escape the police officer had not had the right to cause the death of the suspected thief. Further held that the appellant exceeded the powers given to him by law, and he caused the death of the fireman by doing an at which he , in good faith, believed to be lawful and necessary for the due discharge of his duty and the case would be covered by exception 3 to Section 300 of IPC.
Exception 4 -Sudden Fight:
This exception applies to cases wherein death is caused in a sudden fight without premeditation in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel, so long as the fight is unpremeditated and sudden.
Essential ingredients to invoke the benefit of this clause, death must be caused:
• Without premeditation
• In a sudden fight
• In the heat of passion arising out of the sudden quarrel
• Without the offenders having taken undue advantage
• The offender should not act in a cruel or unusual manner, and
• The fight must have been with the person killed
In Dharman v. State of Punjab , two contending parties both armed with weapons suddenly clashed with the result that free fight developed in the course of which the death of one of the fighters was caused. The question which arises is whether the accused who belonged to the party which caused death can or cannot plead the benefit of the fourth exception to sec. 300 IPC. The determination of that question mainly depends on whether under the circumstances of the case it can or cannot be said that the accused took undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.
If both the parties to the fight have used sharp edged weapons, and incised injuries have been caused to member of both parties, it must be held that the case falls under exception 4 of Section 300 of IPC.
Exception 5 -Consent:
The last exception to section deals with causing death by consent which is commonly known as euthanasia (mercy killing). The exception is justified on the ground that a man’s life not only valuable to himself, but also to the State. A man is therefore not entitled to give up his life by consent; though consent has unquestionably the effect of mitigating the crime, it can never exonerate the offender.
In the case of Dasrath Paswan v. State of Bihar the accused was the student of class X. he had failed at the annual examination for three years in succession he took his failure so much to is heart that he decided to end his life and informed his illiterate wife of his decision. His wife asked first to kill her and then to kill himself, in accordance to the fact the accused killed his wife first and was arrested before he could kill himself.
Held that the deceased was above the age of 18 years and that she has suffered that with her own consent. The deceased did not give consent under the fear of injury nor under the misconception of fact but voluntarily and so that case would fall under exception 5 of Section 300 of IPC.
CULPABLE HOMICIDE AND MANSLAUGHTER DISCERNED
On analyzing the various intricacies involved in the concepts of manslaughter and culpable homicide not mounting to murder, this chapter has been divided into two sections. The first section deals in distinguishing manslaughter and culpable homicide on five grounds. The second section lists the two similarities with regard to the concepts of manslaughter and culpable homicide. At the end of the chapter, an algorithm portraying all the three concepts of murder, culpable homicide and manslaughter has been presented to better understand the nature of the laws in brief.
SECTION I: DIFFRENCES
The various grounds on which manslaughter and culpable homicide not amounting to murder can be distinguished are:
1. Malice: To distinguish between culpable homicide and manslaughter, we have to first analyse the concept of malice involved. "Malice required for . . . culpable homicide is intent to kill or intent to do an act greatly dangerous to the lives of others or with the knowledge that the act creates a strong probability of death or great bodily harm." Whereas, voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful intentional killing "without malice" but with the knowledge "that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm" to the victim or any other human being. Involuntary manslaughter is either a misdemeanor-manslaughter or a criminally negligent homicide, which applies an objective reasonable person standard in determining mens rea. In unadorned terms, culpable homicide involves malice whereas manslaughter does not.
2. Death of Unborn Child: The second distinction comes with regard to the aspect of causing the death of a child in the mother’s womb. In explanation 3 of section 299 of I.P.C, causing the death of a child in the mother’s womb is not culpable homicide. The person would be guilty of the offence of miscarriage under 312 or 315 of I.P.C, depending on the gravity of the injury. The act of causing death amounts to culpable homicide if any part of that child has been brought forth, though the child may not have breathed or been completely born. This clause implies that the child may be born alive, though it may not breathe or it may respire so imperfectly that it may be difficult to obtain clear proof that respiration has taken place. But with regard to the law of manslaughter the person who causes the death of an unborn baby can either be prosecuted for assault on mother, murder or fetus manslaughter.
3. Commission of Act/Omission: The next difference comes with regard to the doing of an act or omission of an act. As explained under 32, I.P.C the word ‘act’ has been given a wider meaning in the code inasmuch as it includes not only an act of commission, but illegal omissions as well. Now, illegal has been defined under section 43 of I.P.C. Let us consider the case of Walker v. Superior Court in drawing a distinction between manslaughter and culpable homicide with regard to this context. If the same case came up before the Indian Courts, the two questions that will have to be deliberated upon are:
• Does Walker's disagreement with medical science amounts to illegal omission?
• Is a citizen of India legally bound to resort to modern medical treatment?
As the answer to both the questions is definitely No; Walker’s denial to the efficacy of medical science does not amount to an illegal omission. According to the stated facts, Walker cared for her daughter as she thought best. Therefore in India, she will not be guilty of culpable homicide under section 299. But she was held guilty for manslaughter. On conceptual grounds, manslaughter is much broader when compared to culpable homicide. In essence, manslaughter includes omissions though they may not be illegal, but culpable homicide includes only illegal omissions.
4. Negligence: For the last thirty years or more, criminal law scholars have debated the prerequisites of responsibility for harmful, careless conduct. In India death caused due to negligent and reckless conduct is covered under Section 304 A of IPC. Negligent homicide under section 304 A is not inclusive to culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 299 of IPC in India. But manslaughter includes deaths caused due to negligence under involuntary manslaughter or much precisely under reckless manslaughter. In toto, manslaughter includes deaths caused due to reckless and negligent conduct, whereas culpable homicide does not include.
5. Death caused without intention by doing an unlawful act: The penal code has made it clear in illustration (c) attached to section 299, I.P.C that a person will not be liable for culpable homicide, if he causes the death of a person while doing an unlawful act, provided he did not intend to kill or cause death by doing an act that he knew was likely to have the effect. Illustration (c) of section 299 reads “A, by shooting at a fowl with intent to kill and steal it, kills B who is behind a bush; A not knowing that he was there. Here, although A was doing an unlawful act, he was not guilty of culpable homicide, as he did not intend to kill B, or to cause death by doing an act that he knew was likely to cause death.”. But manslaughter as already explained is much a broader concept and considers the act of A i.e. the killing of B though had no intent to injure or kill B to be guilty of constructive manslaughter.
The above mentioned distinctions are represented in core in the following table:
Culpable homicide not amounting to murder Manslaughter
Presence of malice Absence of malice
Death of unborn child is not culpable homicide Death of unborn child is manslaughter (fetus manslaughter)
Culpable homicide includes only illegal omissions. manslaughter includes omissions though they may not be illegal also
Death caused without intention by doing an unlawful act is not culpable homicide Death caused without intention by doing an unlawful act is manslaughter (constructive)
Death caused due to negligence or reckless conduct is not culpable homicide Death caused due to negligence or reckless conduct is manslaughter (involuntary: reckless)
SECTION II: SIMILARITIES
The various grounds on which manslaughter and culpable homicide not amounting to murder are similar are:
1. Punishment: Though manslaughter has a much wider scope than culpable homicide not amounting to murder, punishment for both the offences is to a great extent similar. Culpable homicide not amounting to murder will be punished with life imprisonment or with imprisonment of a term which may extend to ten years and with fine if injury is caused with intention. Similarly, voluntary manslaughter is has a punitive sanction of life imprisonment or imprisonment for 15 years. Moreover, culpable homicide not amounting to murder will be punished with an imprisonment of a term which may extend to ten years and with fine if injury is caused with knowledge. Similarly, involuntary manslaughter is has a punitive sanction of ten years with fine.
2. Sudden provocation, private defense, etc: In India, death caused due to grave and sudden provocation, private defense, exercise of legal power, without premeditation in a sudden fight, and Consent are reduced from murder to culpable homicide. Also, death caused under the above mention circumstances reduces murder to manslaughter. By resorting to a mathematical approach we can equate manslaughter and culpable homicide.
Let us consider, death caused under circumstances like provocation etc as C. Murder is represented with M, culpable homicide not amounting to murder with CH and manslaughter with MS.
C----implies------- M becomes CH
C----implies-------M becomes MS
Therefore negating the common variables CH=MS i.e. culpable homicide not amounting to murder equals manslaughter.
This is the main reason why majority of the people consider manslaughter and culpable homicide to be the same. But a close perusal on the mathematical explanation tells us that MS which represents manslaughter is actually voluntary manslaughter but not involuntary manslaughter. Therefore culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Indian law is same as that of voluntary manslaughter but not of manslaughter on the whole. Though courts and jury refer both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as manslaughter, we have for theoretical correctness and understanding should discriminate between both the concepts.
The difficult task of interpreting the murder provisions in section 300 of IPC consists not only in distinguishing them from one another, but also in distinguishing them from the corresponding culpable homicide provisions. But such a difficulty is tone downed in western countries due to the concept of manslaughter rather than culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Manslaughter has a very wide horizon and can be easily distinguished from murder. Absence of malice aforethought is one of the main criterion for distinguishing manslaughter from murder. All lesser homicides distinguishable from murder come under the category of manslaughter. There is less confusion to ascertain whether a homicide is murder or manslaughter when compared to ascertaining whether it is culpable homicide under section 299 or murder under section 300 IPC. The first reason for that being presence of malice in both murder and culpable homicide. The second reason is the concept of Indian criminal courts to convict only if guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt. When two offences such as murder and culpable homicide are so intricately related, if lack of evidence negates one offence, in most of the cases it can negate the other offence too. This is one of the main reasons for less conviction rate. When so many complexities are involved with regard to the concept of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder, determining the offence the accused is guilty of sometimes itself turns into a perplexity. This throws an open question as to whether the original provisions (with reference to Sections 299 and 300) in the Indian Penal Code in fact struck a proper balance between subjective and objective forms of liability and, further, whether this distinction between these forms of liability was articulated in a clear and conceptually coherent fashion.
In India, there is very thin line of difference between sections 299 and 300 of IPC. Some of the clauses in the section also convey the same meaning which decreases the border line between murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. On the contrary, if consider the concept of manslaughter, its difference and distinction to murder is very coherent and wide. Manslaughter, unlike a precise definition of culpable homicide, is very broad in sense and practice. The concept of manslaughter avails the court if not murder to at least ascertain the homicide to be manslaughter. But in India if it is not murder, we cannot come to a conclusion that the homicide is culpable homicide because to ascertain that we have again analyze whether the act committed by the accused falls within the definition of culpable homicide as given under section 299 of IPC. This leads to prolonged discussions and adjournments.
Man slaughter must be incorporated under Indian criminal law due to many reasons:
• The first would be to reduce various complexities and confusion. As explained above it would become easier for the courts to ascertain the offence and draw a fervent line of distinction between murder and other homicide offences.
• The second would be to include wider range of offences such as reckless acts, killing of unborn babies etc.
• The third would be to reduce the delay in deciding criminal cases with regard to homicides and
• Finally as it is a global concept of criminal law. Manslaughter is a concept of law incorporated by a majority of countries. In the drift towards globalization, it is better to have common concepts of law at least with regard to criminal matters.
Manslaughter includes deaths caused due to reckless and negligent acts. Section 304 A of IPC includes such deaths and prescribes a punishment of imprisonment which may extend to 2 years, or with fine or both. But manslaughter prescribes a punishment of an imprisonment which may extend up to ten years with fine. Furthermore, the concept of negligence and recklessness in manslaughter is much debated and is highly controversial in the academic section of society. Therefore if at all Indian criminal law is interested in incorporating manslaughter, it must first take into consideration various other sections in IPC such as 304 A etc and also make an attempt to define the aspects of recklessness and negligence.
On whole, this project aims to act as an eye opener for those who construe and consider the vivacious but divergent concepts of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and manslaughter to be the same and the incorporation of manslaughter in IPC which might enhance the country’s current criminal law system to a global and better criminal justice system.