History of Defenses against Murder Available Before IPC

Mahek G. Bhojwani
Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, India.

Volume III, Issue III, 2020

The word “homicide’ is derived from the latin words homo and cide. Homo means a man and cide means to cut, therefore homicide means the killing of a man. Homicide is also synonymous with the word murder. Nothing is more precious to man than his life. Therefore, killing a man is one of the most heinous offences man can commit. The punishment given by the jury for such a crime is also of great magnitude; as such a crime is unforgiveable. However, there are certain circumstances where the crime is considered for pardon. Homicide can be justified in certain cases and the punishment for the same can also be mitigated. These are very special circumstances. The concept of justifiable homicide arises from the grouping of offenses amounting to murder under certain heads. The classification is done on various factors including the gravity of the motive and intention, the kind of intention, the personality of the wrongdoer, et cetera. The degree of punishment awarded differs based on the category of murder. This differentiation has not evolved recently and has existed even before the Indian Penal code was drafted. Awarding a punishment was also subject to a case to case basis, besides the standard categorization. For certain cases, the murder can be justified based on the intention or circumstances leading to murder. Thus the concept of defenses to murder developed. This system of justice can be traced back to the Hindu code of law and Shariat Law. The Hindu and Muslim dynasties that had ruled India before the British had adopted customary laws that had allowed for differentiation of murder and exemption or mitigation of liability. Several of these provisions have been incorporated directly or after modification in the IPC, whereas some have been omitted.


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