What are Compoundable Offences?
Offenses in India are classified into three categories depending on the nature of offenses; namely:
- Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offence
- Bailable and Non-bailable Offence, and
- Compoundable and Non-compoundable Offences.
When the person who files a complaint (complainant/victim) enters into a compromise and agrees to take back the complaint or charges filed against the accused, such offense is called a compoundable offense. Such compromise should not be forced or a bona fide settlement, not in exchange for any consideration.
Compoundable offenses are less severe kinds of criminal offenses.
Some examples of compoundable offenses are:
- Dishonestly receiving stolen property,
- Criminal intimidation,
- Uttering word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman,
- Voluntarily causing grievous hurt,
- Defamation, etc
Compounding of Offence
Section 320, Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) provides for the compounding of offenses. Compounding of offense means to take back the charges or complaint filed against the accused. So, compounding an offense can be done in two ways: with the court’s permission and without the court’s permission. Compounding of offense which requires court’s permission are causing hurt, adultery, defamation, criminal trespass. Compounding offenses that do not require the court’s permission is voluntarily causing grievous hurt, criminal breach of trust, assault on a woman, theft.
What is the procedure for compounding of offenses under the Cr.P.C. and Indian Penal Code (IPC)?
Step 1: An application under Section 320 of Cr.P.C. can be made before the Magistrate or any court where the offense is pending seeking permission to compound the offense.
Step 2: Once the application has been made, the Magistrate may, after hearing and recording of evidence and examination of witnesses may discharge the accused.
Step 3: If the court is satisfied that the complainant and the accused are willing to forego past incidents and dispose of the case, then the accused would be acquitted accordingly. The accused has to undergo trial, put evidence, and be either acquitted or convicted based on the evidence.
However, if the court is not satisfied, it may re-examine the witness and order such further examination and cross-examination of as the case may be.
At what stage can offenses be compoundable?
- Offenses punishable under the section of IPC (45 of 1860) can be compromised by the person against whom the offense is committed. For example: Wrongfully restraining or confining a person (Section 341, 342 of IPC).
- Offenses can be compromised by the person against whom the offense is committed with the court’s permission before such prosecution is pending. For example: Voluntarily causing grievous hurt (Section 325 of IPC).
- When a person attempts to commit a compoundable offense or abets to commit such offense, then the offense may be compounded at the instance of the person against whom it is committed with the court’s permission.
- When a person against whom an offense is committed is under eighteen years or is a lunatic or idiot, then any competent person to enter into a contract may, with the court’s consent, compound the case on their behalf. For example, a fraudulent execution of a deed of transfer containing a false statement of consideration (Section 423 of IPC).
- When a person against whom an offense is committed is dead, their legal representative may compound the case on their behalf with the court’s consent. For example, house-trespass to commit an offense (other than theft) is punishable with imprisonment (Section 451).
- An application for compounding the offense shall be made before the same court before which the accused is undertrial or any appeal is pending.
- The High Court or Court of Session can allow any competent person to compound the offenses.
- Once the offense is compounded, acquittal and the accused are discharged from prosecution.
- If the accused is liable for any extended punishment, then in such a case, the offense cannot be compounded.
Can a non-compoundable offense be compounded?
As stated earlier, compoundable offenses can be compromised or withdrawn either with permission or without the court’s permission depending on the nature of the case. However, where grave violations which involve the public cannot be compounded or compromised. Nevertheless, these offenses can be quashed in certain circumstances where the crime is not endangering the general public or society.
Non-compoundable offenses such as offenses under Section 498A (husband or relatives of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and Section 406 (criminal breach of trust) cannot be compromised. However, the High Court has the power to quash them under Section 482 of CrPC. (B. S. Joshi Vs. State of Haryana (2003) 4 SCC 675).
What is a Non-compoundable Offence?
Offenses that cannot be compounded are called non-compoundable offenses. Therefore, the court can only quash these offenses. Non-compoundable offenses are grave in nature; therefore, the accused cannot be set free. Furthermore, in these offenses, the state, i.e., the police, files a complaint on behalf of the victim. Therefore, the victim’s compromise is not possible.
Compounding a non-compoundable offense is impossible as even the court is not allowed to compound such an offense.
Some examples of non-compoundable crimes are:
- Causing grievous hurt by doing an act so rashly and negligently as to endanger the personal safety of others or human life.
- Voluntarily confining a person for three days or more, etc.
Difference between Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offence:
Following are the distinguishing features of compoundable and non-compoundable offense:
|In a compoundable offense, the nature of the offense is less severe.||In a non-compoundable offense, the nature of the offense is grave.|
Withdrawal of Charges
|In a compoundable offense, a complaint can be withdrawn (compounded) by the victim.||In a non-compoundable offense, the complaint cannot be withdrawn.|
|In compoundable offenses, only the victim or private individual is affected.||In a non-compoundable offense, the private person, as well as the society, is involved.|
|Compounding of compoundable offenses can be done with or without the permission of the court.||Compounding of non-compoundable offence is not possible; it can only be quashed.|
Filling of the case
|In a compoundable offense, the victim files the case.||In a non-compoundable offense, the state/police file the case.|
Criminal offenses can be compoundable or non-compoundable offenses. Offenses that can be withdrawn at the instance of the complainant is called the compoundable offense. Offenses that cannot be compromised by individuals or courts and can only be quashed by the court are called non-compoundable offenses. Compounding of offenses is provided under section 320 of the Cr.P.C.