According to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, culpable homicide does not constitute murder when it occurs whereas, In Indian law, murder has been defined by legislature according to which murder is an action when a reasonable person with a sound mind unlawfully kills any person with the intension of killing that person.

Essentials of the offence of murder;

  • Action should result in the death of the deceased and also there should be appropriate mens rea or intention of causing death,
  • And the intention must be of  causing  such a bodily injury that is likely to cause death, or
  • Mens rea should be followed by actus rea along with the knowledge that the action is likely to cause the death of another [1]

The section begins by setting out circumstances when culpable homicide turns into murder. The offence of murder has five exceptions of which exception 1 and 4 has very thin line between them and sometimes it is quite difficult to distinguish and to determine whether it will be a grave and sudden provocation or a sudden fight in the heat of a sudden quarrel.

EXCEPTION -1 Grave and Sudden Provocation

Exception -1 of section 300 of IPC talks about how, when the offender is deprived of the power of self-control by a grave and sudden provocation[2] then it is culpable homicide not amounting to murder and Ingredients of exception 1 that the provocation should be sudden grave and there should loss of self –control. The word “sudden” has two components. The provocation must be unexpected, to begin with. It is impossible to claim that a provocation was sudden if the accused had planned to be provoked to justify the murder that followed. Second, there should be little time between the provocation and the murder.[3] It is quite easy to determine whether the provocation was sudden or not but to decide that the provocation was grave or not is quite a challenging task so to determine whether the provocation was grave, the Court uses, the reasonable man test that is: “Is a reasonable man likely to lose self-control as a result of such provocation?” this is a useful litmus test for determining the nature of the provocation.
And further, the provocation should result in loss of self-control the self-control means loss of cognitive senses or temper for a temporary period, and also a rational man doesn’t lose self-control due to a simple exchange of insults. Therefore, courts do not view a routine interchange of insults as a justification for grave provocation. Words and gestures of the accused may also give grave and sudden provocation -the mental background created by a previous act of the victim also has to be taken into consideration[4].


This exception applies to those situations in which the offence of murder has been done without the premeditation of argument and till the point when the fight is unpredictable or not premeditated and sudden the offender can avail this exception but this also has a condition that During the fight the offender should not take undue advantage out of the act, in VirsaSingh v. State of Punjab court held that despite the whole act was sudden and was not premeditated, But the learned court considered that the finding that the offender has inflicted the blow with the sphere on Khem Singh was a fatal one accepted by the medical so court decided even if the matter was of the sudden fight but the nature of the act cannot be ignored[5]. In the case, it was also contended that there was no intention on the part of VirsaSingh to kill KhemSingh, but the fatal blow inflicted was grievous and in such situations, the nature of the injury has to be established, that is whether it is on the leg or the arm or the stomach, and also the intensity of the blow that how intense it is, whether any important parts were injured or not. These kinds of facts are purely objective that cannot be mould by anyone and they leave no room for interpretation so the investigation will also be objective, but when it is about to establish intention it is subjective and open to judges’ discretions this must be established that the offender had the intention to cause the bodily injury that is found to be present[6]. So for availing this exception there must be a sudden fight along with the condition that the person must not have taken undue advantage out of the act done.


exception 1 is grave and sudden provocation where the provocation should always be from the deceased side which is univocal and it should be sudden and grave that the reasonable man in that situation would have been behaving the same as the offender has done whereas in exception 4 it is about a sudden fight where fight or combat between two people happens because of unpremeditated reasons and sudden fights imply mutual provocation in such situation provocation from which party, is immaterial. In exception 4 intention is also immaterial only the nature of injury and the fight must not be predetermined one is the only criteria whereas in the e exception 1 the nature of provocation is very important to prove because the other words like sudden and grave are factual aspects that can be prove by requisite certification whereas the provocation and intension is very subjective to prove and as mens rea is very important to put up a person with criminal charges there are three shades of mens rea knowledge, intention and motive  these three words are quiet difficult to establish as knowledge and motive can be determined by seeing the end result of the act but intension is something only procedural thing it is something in a preparation stage that cannot be determined so is the cases of murder when offender seeking for the exceptions it is quite difficult to determine whether the provocation was grave or not and also the two things sudden fight and grave and sudden provocation has been misunderstood  but these two are different former is mutual provocation whereas later is unilateral provocation from deceased side.


The mentioned exception does not acquit any person of his conduct but they provide or lessen the magnitude of their punishment, the burden of proof to prove the guilt is always on the prosecution but for availing the exception the one who is claiming them has to prove them. The act of homicide is something that sabotages any society and has to be strictly addressed, especially when these activities have been voluntarily done but the offence done in the heat of a sudden fight or provocation where the person losses his temper or senses for some time should not be punished as similar to murder because for constituting any criminal offence mens rea is an important facet but is these situations person does not have the prior intention or motive to execute his action, whatever happened it happened due to some external factors that cannot be controlled by any reasonable man and also in today’s era all the developed countries consider murder the highest degree of crime, and this the general view that the offender charged with the offence of murder be an exile from the society and not only the person but his entire family has to suffer because of that. So, the punishments should be given only for retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation and it can be done only by using the jurisprudence of exceptions judiciously.

Author(s) Name: Nikita Tomar (Institute of Law Nirma University)


[1]verma, vanya. (2020, April 25). Murder under Indian Penal Code [web log]. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://blog.ipleaders.in/murder-under-indian-penal-code-all-you-need-to-know-about-it/.

[2]Section 300, Indian Penal Code 1860

[3]Mahmood vs State (AIR November 17, 1960).

[4]: K.M. Nanavativs. State of Maharashtra (Manupatra November 24, 1961).Surinder Kumar V. Union Territory Of Chandigarth [Air 1989 Sc 1094]

[5]virsasingh v. state of punjab (manupatra March 11, 1958).

[6]virsasingh v. state of punjab (manupatra March 11, 1958).

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