Introduction Section 300 (3) of The Indian Penal Code has been a very interesting provision of the Indian Criminal

Law. It is very fascinating to see the development of the reasoning behind application of this section in murder cases. Especially after Virsa Singh's case in 1958, the law was more or less cleared on this point and it became a landmark judgment, which was followed in many subsequent similar cases. This paper is an attempt to find out the condition before Virsa Singh's case, to analyse it and to look at the condition and the approach of courts applying the ratio of this case in future judgments. Attention has also been paid to the intent requirement by this section. 32 Section 300 (3): A General Overview The section provides that, culpable homicide is murder if the act by which death is caused: Is done with an intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. For cases to fall within Clause (3), it is not necessary that the offender intended to cause death, so long as the death ensues from the intentional bodily injury or injuries sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.

Situation before 1958 Situation before 1958 and attitude of courts in application of s. 300(3) was somewhat uncertain. In the case of Chamru Budhwa Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh after an exchange of abuse accused dealt a blow on the head of the deceased with the lathi. After that 2nd appellant dealt another blow to the deceased, the injury inflicted proved fatal and both the Courts below came to the conclusion that the Appellant was guilty of the offence under Section 302 IPC. As per the doctor the injury inflicted on the head was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The Supreme Court was of the view that it appears that the crime was committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel thus bringing the case within Exception 4 thereto with the result that the offence committed was culpable homicide not amounting to murder. In another case of Willie (William) Slaney vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh , William was on terms of intimacy with sister of deceased. The brother did not like their intimacy. On the evening of the day of the occurrence, there was a heated exchange of words. The accused gave one blow on his head with a hockey stick with the result that his skull was fractured. He died in the hospital ten days later. The doctor thought that injury was only likely to cause death. In the opinion of court, the appellant could hardly be presumed to have had this special knowledge that the blow was sufficient to cause death at the time he struck the blow. So the offence falls under the second part of section 304 of IPC. While it has been made clear in Virsa Singh's case that such knowledge is not necessary.

The approach of the court in the above mentioned cases seems, that more reliance was placed on the nature and seriousness of injury rather than the intention to cause such injury. It is very evident when judge in Slaney's case says that, All blows on the head do not necessarily cause death. The

Reasoning and decision: The court said that actual reading of this section infers that it is not enough to prove that the injury found to be present is sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature but it must be in addition shown that the injury found to be present was the same injury that was intended to be inflicted. would create a doubt about the ingredient of intention as it cannot definitely be said in such circumstances that the accused aimed the blow at a particular part of the body. Three coils of intestine were also coming out. He was granted special leave to the Supreme Court on the following: Issue: On the finding of High Court what offence is made out as having been committed by the petitioner Arguments advanced: It was argued with much circumlocution that the facts set out above do not disclose an offence of murder because the prosecution has not proved that there was an intention to inflict a bodily injury that was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. The Landmark Judgment Virsa Singh vs.x transverse in direction on the left side of the abdominal wall in the lower part of the iliac region just above the inguinal canal. The appellant was convicted by the first court under section 302 IPC and his conviction was upheld by the High Court. Whether it was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature is a matter of inference or deduction from the proved facts about the nature of the injury and has nothing to do with the question of intention.approach has been to find out whether the ingredient namely the intention to cause the particular injury is present or not and it is held that circumstances like sudden quarrel in a fight or when the deceased intervenes in such a fight. . which was a result of a spear thrust. Medical Report: The injury was a punctured wound 2. that earlier the courts first searched the intention to kill and in its absence the act can be murder only if that injury would be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. The doctor said that the injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. There was only one injury on his person. State of Punjab AIR 1958 SC 465 Facts: The appellant was allegedly guilty of the murder of one Khem Singh. It could be concluded safely.

the burden is on the prosecution throughout) the offence is murder under s. A case in which such a defence was uphleld and accused was exonerated of the charge of murder was Khuman Singh vs. The stick of Khuman Singh. Once these four elements are established by the prosecution (and. State of Madhya Pradesh (2004). 300.e. thirdly. appellant struck the one . that it was not accidental or unintentional. was sufficient to cause death. of course. that a bodily injury is present. quite objectively. This part of the enquiry is purely objective and inferential and has nothing to do with the intention of the offender. J. The test laid down by Virsa Singh's case for the applicability of clause "Thirdly" is now ingrained in our legal system and has become part of the rule of law. The facts were that the villagers from different villages were assembled in connection of the flag ceremony of a temple. it must establish. the nature of the injury must be proved. and (b) that the injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. it must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury. the enquiry proceeds further and. or that some other kind of injury was intended. or reasonably deduced that the injury was accidental or otherwise unintentional. iv) Fourthly. if both the following conditions are satisfied: i. that the injury found to be present was the injury that was intended to be inflicted. These are purely objective investigations. It must be proved that there was an intention to inflict that particular bodily injury which. have become locus classicus. in the ordinary course of nature. it must be proved that the injury of the type just described made up of the three elements set out above is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. culpable homicide is murder. (a) that the act which causes death is done with the intention of causing death or is done with the intention of causing a bodily injury. ii) Secondly. viz. Also the court observed that accused can only escape if it can be shown. This four point test is applied in many such subsequent cases . Under clause thirdly of Section 300 IPC. It is mainly after this judgment that clear guidelines were provided for the application of this section. that is to say.The court gave a four-point test which prosecution must observe and prove in order tobring the case under this section: i) First. iii) Thirdly. Once these three elements are proved to be present. These observations of Vivian Bose.

300 (3) is not attracted. The intention was not to kill but to make them unconcious while they took away the money. Decision: The court observed that what happened was not premeditated and appellants were not prepared for the incident. All the acts were deliberate acts which were pre-planned and they thus satisfied the subjective test involved in the clause. They has tied his hands and legs with rope and deposited him in a shallow drain. This injury was not one which was intended by the court and it was at best accidental and therefore s. The cause of death was asphysxiation. It was argued that the act did not constitute murder because the accused must have known that what they were doing was likely to kill. It was hardly necessary to prove more than the acts themselves and the causal connection between the acts and the end result. After ceremony was over. The sufficiency of the injury was objectively established by the nature and quality of the acts taken with the consequence which was intimately related to the acts. the appellants had conspired together to burgle the safe of Base Supply Office where a large amount of money was usually kept for distribution on pay-day. Also the act considered objectively were sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. They covered his mouth with adhesive plaster and tied a handkercheif over it and plugged his nostrils with cotton soaked in chloroform. In the night they caught hold of the deceased who was the Lt. They were unable to burgle the safe and were recognised but they were succesful in runnig away. Some accused also trampled on his body and he died on the spot. The deceased was overpowered and was assaulted with lathi blows and stones. The ordinary course of nature was not interrupted with any intervening act of another and whatever happened was the result of the acts of assailants and nothing else. An altercation took place and parties were pacified by intervention of the deceased. State of Kerala . the complainant party was chased by the appellants. Supreme Court also discussed the intent element required for this section in great detail. Medical report showed that it was the ribs that had entered the liver and if liver was not damaged death would not have resulted. 300. It was argued that the intention that the section requires must .who was beating the drum. According to the medical report none of the injuries was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. The injuries were inflicted by lathies and stones. which punctured the liver. Commander. The argument that prosecution must prove an intention to inflict only that kind of injury that was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature was found to be fallacious by the court. Decision: The court held that the case is covered by third clause of s. The intent requirement The ingredient 'intention' in that Clause is very important and that gives a clue in a given case whether offence involved is murder or not . In Rajwant Singh v. Next morning the dead body was recovered. The death had actually resulted due injury to the liver caused by fracture of rib bone.

"and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.? Court totally disagreed with such an argument calling it to be a fallacious argument. Once that is found." The first part of this is descriptive of the earlier part of the section."If the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death. but also to the clause."and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. namely . that is subjective to the offender and it must be proved that he had an intention to cause the bodily injury that is found to be present. According to the rule laid down in Virsa Singh's case. The court read the clause 3 of section 300 of IPC disjunctively and separating intention being read as linked to the second part in the following way: If there is an intention to inflict an injury that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. but when it comes to the question of intention." In our opinion. the "thirdly" would be unnecessary because the act would fall under the first part of the section. of course. intention is only linked up and is restricted to the causing of the bodily injury and not to the knowledge or intention of causing such bodily injury that is sufficient to cause bodily injury that is sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. These are purely objective facts and leave no room for inference or deduction and to that extent the enquiry is objective. then any person could always plead that he never had an intention to cause such a injury and it would have been very difficult to prove him wrong. . and did not extend to the intention of causing death. What needs to be proved is that the accused had an intention to cause the same bodily injury found to be present on the person of deceased which was later found to be sufficient to cause death. the two clauses are disjunctive and separate. not only to the bodily injury inflicted. Illustration (c) appended to Section 300 clearly brings out this point. Thus. the offence would be murder. even if the intention of accused was limited to the infliction of a bodily injury sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. then the intention is to kill and in that event. So the crux is that what needs to be proved is not that the accused had an intention to inflict the injury that was sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature but that he had an intention to cause the same bodily injury that is found to be present on the body of the deceased." It must. the enquiry shifts to the next clause .be related. Such a principle is based on broad lines of common sense because if intention is considered to be of causing an injury which is sufficient to cause death. Then it is the later part of the enquiry which is objective in nature to find out that whether the injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death or not. The first is subjective to the offender : "If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person. first be found that bodily injury was caused and the nature of the injury must be established.

But whether the intention is there or not is one of fact and not one of law. It does not matter that there was no intention even to cause an injury of a kind that is sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. or if the totality of the circumstances justify such an inference. Whether he know of its seriousness. or intended serious consequences. or to inflict and injury of particular degree of seriousness. The two matters are quite separate an distinct.That is why the court observed that: Once these four elements are established by the prosecution the offence is murder under s. Whether the wound is serious or otherwise. Once the intention to cause the bodily injury actually found to be proved. how serious. It is not a correct approach that intent required is linked up with the seriousness of the injury and that is not what the section requires. villagers arrived there. of course. The question is not whether the prisoner intended to inflict a serious injury or a trivial one but whether he intended to inflict the injury that is proved to be present. They mainly threw light on the question that infliction of single blow. is neither here nor there. but where he intended or inflict the injury in the question. Again the Supreme court in the the case of Dhupa Chamar vs. and they can only escape if it can be shown. thirdly. which proved fatal should not be equated with the intention to cause death or an injury sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. a lady. In this case. But if there is nothing beyond the injury and the fact that the appellant inflicted it. 300. so far as the intention is concerned. the injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. and if serious. lordships had discussed almost all apt authorities and above-mentioned cases in this regard. is a totally separate and distant question and has nothing to do with the question whether the prisoner intended to inflict the injury in question. 2-Tokha Chamar and due to this reason next day. they must face the consequences. or reasonably deduced that the injury was accidental or otherwise unintentional. In this case. and once the existence of the injury is proved the intention to cause it will be presumed unless the evidence or the circumstances warrant an opposite conclusion. The question. there was an incident of assault by fists and slaps between Ramu Chamar and appellant No. If he can show that he did not. State of Bihar dealt in great detail on the requirement of intention and applicability of this section. the rest of the enquiry is purely objective and the only question is whether. then. No one has a licence to run around inflicting injuries that are sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature and claim that they are not guilty of murder. lathies and with brickbats came near the house of Ramu Chamar and started abusing his family members whereupon. If they inflict injuries of that kind. appellants and their men armed with bhalas. the intent that the section requires is not proved. is not whether he intended to kill. made a protest whereupon . as a matter of purely objective inference. It does not even matter that there is no knowledge that an act of that kind will be likely to cause death. One of them. It does not matter that there was no intention to cause death. the only possible inference is that he intended to inflict it.

Appellant No.appellant No. Therefore it can?t be said with any definiteness that the appellant aimed a blow at this particular part knowing that it would cut the artery. In Tholan v. He was convicted under 304 I of IPC. Cases at a glance In Harjindar Singh v. Delhi Administration . The deceased came intervening in a crouching position to separate the two. Decision and reasoning: Under Clause Thirdly the intention to cause that particular injury is a subjective inquiry and when once such intention is established and if the intended injury is found objectively to be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. the accused and deceased had no enimity but were remonstrating with each other on some point. If on the other hand this ingredient of 'intention' is not established or if a reasonable doubt arises in this regard then only it would be reasonable to infer that Clause Thirdly is not attracted and that the accused must be attributed knowledge that in inflicting the injury he was likely to cause death in which case it will be culpable homicide punishable under Section 304 Part II IPC. Cause of death was stated to be shock and haemorrhage on account of stab injury and sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. The appellant did not use the knief when he was engaged in the fight. Cause of death was shock and haemorrhage from injury to femoral vessels in the thigh.2-Tokha Chamar assaulted one other person in the abdomen with bhala as a result of which he died in the hospital. When once the ingredient 'intention' is established then the offence would be murder as the intended injury was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. Deceased succumbed to the injury and died. The above circumstance would show that accused intentionally inflicted the injury and the same would indicate such a state of mind of the appellant-Dhupa Chamar that he aimed and inflicted the injury with deadly weapon. In the course. Clause Thirdly is attracted and it would be murder unless one of the exceptions to Section 300 is attracted. Therefore. In the absence of evidence or reasonable explanation to show that this appellant did not intend to inflict injury by bhala in the chest with that degree of force sufficient to rupture important blood vessel and cutting of aorta and other artery. 1 assaulted victim with a bhala causing injury on the chest rupturing important blood vessels resulting in her instantaneous death. accused took out a knife and stabbed deceased on right of side of chest. of Tamil Nadu . quarrel or malice of accused with deceased and . St. it would be perverse to conclude that he did not intend to inflict that injury that he did. 1-Dhupa Chamar gave a bhala blow on the left side of her neck and the same was pulled out forcibly from the neck as a result of which she fell down and died instantaneously. When the three were grappling with each other appellant took out the knife and stabbed the deceased once. appellant was beating one person and the deceased intervened to rescue. Court concluded that there was no dispute." Keeping in mind the aforesaid principles it appearred to court that the accused persons came armed with deadly weapons and there was an altercation and exchange of hot words whereafter appellant No. inevitable conclusion would be that appellant committed the offence of murder u/s 300 (3).

Jagtar Singh v. the appellant was having illicit relations with wife of the deceased and his visits to her house were resented and objected by him. Tholan v. Thereupon. while another accused tried to snatch the bag containing the cash. Everything happened on the spur of the moment and requisite intention cannot be attributed to the accused. State of Andhra Pradesh . Randhir Singh v. Further knife blows were given by the three accused persons till the deceased collapsed. though their object was to rob him. All such circumstances certainly indicated a state of mind namely that he aimed and inflicted the injury with a deadly weapon. On the day of occurrence. They away the cash bag and all of them fled. State of Punjab (1983).e. State of Punjab (1982). he took out the kirpan and stabbed on the chest of the deceased resulting in his instantaneous death. State of Tamil Nadu (1984). It is held in all these cases that there was no such intention to cause that particular injury as in those circumstances. The stab wounds came first and then the possible fall. In Jaiprakash v. the accused could have been . v. three accused rushed to the deceased and began stabbing him indiscriminately with their three knives. injury by a single blow was found to be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. the accused visited the house in absence of deceased armed with a kirpan. State of Punjab. it would be perverse to conclude that he did not intend to inflict the injury that he did. Where murder is caused by a single blow In the case of Jai Prakash. Taking into account the totality of the circumstances the accused was held guilty for murder. in the absence of evidence or reasonable expalnation to show that he did not intend to stab on the chest with the degree of force sufficient to penetrate the heart. (1981). When deceased came and objected to his presence there was only an altercation and exchange of hot words and not a fight. Thus he was held guilty for committing an offence under 304 II of IPC. State of Punjab (1981). As observed in Virsa Singh's case.presence of deceased was wholly accidental. the Court referred to the decisions of this Court in the cases of Kulwant Rai v. the doctor said that the stab wounds as well as the head injury are individually sufficient to cause death". the court observed that : In all these cases. the three appellants had indiscriminately stabbed the deceased. as mentioned above only to assess the state of mind namely whether the accused had the necessary intention to cause that particular injury i. to say that he desired expressly that such injury only should be the result. State (Delhi Administration) . The above circumstances would show that the accused intentionally inflicted that injury and though it may not be premeditated one. grappling etc. When once ingredient ?intention? is established then the offence would be murder if injury is found to be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. In case of Abdul Waheed Khan and Ors. The Supreme Court took into consideration the circumstances such as sudden quarrel. Gurmail Singh v.

whether it is on the vital or non-vital part of the body. But it is not a rule that." Conclusion After the judgment in Virsa Singh's case. it may be pointed out that there is no principle that in all cases of a single blow Section 302 IPC is not attracted. Determination of intention becomes difficult where a single blow has caused murder. The question with regard to the nature of offence has to be determined on the facts and in the circumstances of each case. court observed: "Adverting to the contention of a single blow. while confirming the conviction under Section 302. pericardium. the weapon used. entail conviction under Section 302 IPC. conviction under Section 302 of the Penal Code was upheld by the High Court and when appeal was brought to Supreme Court by Special Leave.P. In the case of Mahesh Balmiki alias Munna v. A single blow may. fracturing both the ribs and track of the wound going through the sternum. whether the act is murder or not. (1999).barely aware i. . anterior and posterior after passing the ribs and thereafter entering the liver and perforating a portion of stomach. Determining the intention becomes important in determining. only had knowledge of the consequences.e. in some cases. where it is caused by a single blow there cannot be any intention to cause murder and would fall under culpable homicide. the situation became very clear. in some cases under Section 304 IPC and in some other cases under Section 326 IPC. These circumstances under which the appellant happened to inflict the injury it is felt or at least a doubt arose that all his mental faculties could not have been roused as to form an intention to achieve the particular result. Courts while determining the required intention give due caution to the circumstances in which the incident occurred. accused gave a single fatal blow with knife on the chest on the left side of the sternum between the costal joint of the 6th and 7th ribs. The nature of the injury. the circumstances in which the injury in caused and the manner in which the injury is inflicted are all relevant factors which may go to determine the required intention or knowledge of the offender and the offence committed by him. There. State of M.