What is a Compoundable and Non Compoundable offence in India

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January 12, 2022
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

Compoundable offences are those thatcan be compromised, i.e. the complainant can agree to take back the charges levied against the accused, whereas, non - compoundable offences are the more serious offences in which the parties cannot compromise.

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Compoundable offences

Compoundable offences are those offences where, the complainant (one who has filed the case, i.e. the victim), enter into a compromise, and agrees to have the charges dropped against the accused. However, such a compromise should be a "Bonafide," and not for any consideration to which the complainant is not entitled to.

Section 320 of the CrPC looks at the compounding of offences. Compoundable offences are less serious criminal offences and are of two different types mentioned in tables in Section 320 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as follows:

1. Court permission is not required: These are the offences, compounding of which do not require prior permission of the court.

Examples of these offences are:

  • adultery,

  • causing hurt,

  • defamation,

  • criminal trespass, etc.

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2. Court permission is required:These are the offences, compounding of which require prior permission of the court.

Examples of such offences are:

  • theft,

  • criminal breach of trust,

  • voluntarily causing grievous hurt,

  • assault on a woman with the intention to outrage her modesty,

  • dishonest misappropriation of property amongst others, etc.

Application for compounding the offence shall be made before the same court before which the trial is proceeding. Once an offence has been compounded it shall have the same effect, as if, the accused has been acquitted of the charges.


  • Uttering words etc, with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person causing hurt.

  • Criminal or house-trespass.

  • Criminal breach of contract of service.

  • Printing or engraving matters, knowing it to be defamatory.

  • There are some offences, which although are compoundable and can be compounded only with the permission of the court.

  • These offences should be compounded before the trial begins.

  • Also where accused has already been convicted, and an appeal is pending, the permission of the court is required for compounding of such offences.

  • The reason for seeking permission from the court is that these offences are grievous in nature, and are bad examples in society.

Non-Compoundable Offences

Non-Compoundable offencesare some offences, which cannot be compounded. They can only be quashed. The reason for this is, because the nature of offence is so grave and criminal, that the Accused cannot be allowed to go scot-free. Here, in these types of cases generally, it is the "state", i.e. police, who has filed the case, and hence the question of complainant entering into compromise does not arise.

All those offences, which are not mentioned in the list under Section (320) of CrPC, are non-compoundable offences.

Under a non-compoundable offense, a private party as well as the society, both are affected by such offenses.

In a Non-compoundable offense, no compromise is allowed. Even the court does not have the authority and power to compound such offense. Full trail is held which ends with the acquittal or conviction of the offender, based on the evidence given.

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ExampleOfNon-CompoundableOffences(Where Court's Permission is Required):

  • Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

  • Causing grievous hurt by doing on act so rashly and negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others.

  • Wrongfully confining a person for three days or more.

  • Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage per modesty.

  • Dishonest misappropriation of property.

  • Criminal breach of trust by a cannier--- wharfinger-- etc, where the value of the property does not exceed two hundred and fifty rupees.

  • Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property or the making, alteration or destruction of a valuable security.

  • Fraudulent execution of deed of transfer containing false statement of consideration.

  • Mischief by killing or maiming cattle etc of any value of fifty rupees or upwards.

  • Counterfeiting a trade or property mark used by another.

  • Uttering words or sounds or making gestures or exhibiting any object intending to insult the modesty of a woman or intruding upon the privacy of a woman.

Difference Between Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offences

The difference between Compoundable and Non-Compoundable offences has been listed below:
1. Nature of Crime: In compoundable offence, the nature of the offence not so serious. While, in the non-compoundable offence, the nature of the offence is serious.

2. Withdrawal of Charges: In compoundable offence, charges made against the accused can be withdrawn. While in the non-compoundable offence, the charges against the accused cannot be withdrawn.

3. Affected parties: In compoundable offence, it impacts only to a private person. While in the non-compoundable offence it affects both, private person as well as the society at large.

4. Compoundable: In compoundable offence, settlement can be done either with permission or without permission of the court. While in the non-compoundable offence, the offence cannot compound, it can only be quashed.

5. Filing of the case: In compoundable offence, cases are generally filed by a private person. While in the non-compoundable offence, cases are filed by the state.

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Compounding or Compromise in Non-Compoundable Offences

The word compoundability of an offence under criminal law appears to be absurd a little bit because it is not an act which can be commercially or monetarily compensable. It is actually the hardship that is caused to the mind or body of the victim rather causing him only pecuniary loss. Generally the question of compromise will come into picture where the loss sustained by the victim can equally compensable in terms of money by the other.

Crime is essentially a wrong done to the society rather a wrong done to a private person. The object of criminal law is to punish the criminal attitude of the accused or wrong doer rather punishing him only physically. The convicted person after having undergone the punishment should never dare to think of repeating such criminal acts in future. It is cardinal principle of criminal law that thousands of culprits may be escaped from the clutch of the punishment but no single innocent person is to be dragged to behind the bars.

May be because of this reason, the rigors of criminal law are relaxed to some extent paving the way for compoundability of certain offences. These are such offences where the criminality that can be attributable to the wrong doer is of less significant or no significance at all. They found place in Section 320(1) and (2) of CrPc.As per these provisions, certain offences are compoundable without the permission of the court and others are with the permission of the court. But non compoundable offenses cannot be compounded even with the permission of the court.

But in Mahesh Chand V State of Rajasthan,1990 SCC(Cri)159:1989Cri LJ121, the Supreme court permitted compounding of non-compoundable offences invoking its power under Article 142 of Constitution to render complete justice to the parties concern. But this decision was regarded as Per in curium in the subsequent case Ram lal V State of J&K,(1999) and felt that due regard to the legal provision was not given and the provision 320(9) was completely ignored.

Again in B.S. Joshi V State of Haryana ,(2003) 4 SCC675, the question come up before SC that whether the High courts do vested with any powers to quash the proceedings involving non compoundable offences under Section 482 of the Code in order to achieve justice to the parties concern. For this the court has affirmatively answered saying that the High courts do have powers to invoke their inherent jurisdiction in meddling with matters involving non compoundable offences to meet the ends of justice.

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The same judgment was carried and applied by the larger bench in Gian Singh V State of Punjab,(2012) by putting an end to the controversy as to the powers of High courts in quashing the proceedings in respect of offences which are of non- compoundable in nature.

Now at this juncture I would like to focus the subtle difference between the provisions embodied under 320 of CrPc and Sec.482 of CrPc. The powers under 320 can be exercised straight away in all cases which are coming within the ambit of compoundable offences. No special permissions are required because they are grilled provisions and are are specifically listed under the code.

But if we come to Section 482 of Crpc, it is inherent power given to HCs. These must be sparingly and cautiously exercised. The moment any provision speaks about the inherent nature of power, the object of legislation must be construed that such powers must be carefully, cautiously, judiciously exercised. Since the very meaning of inherent power connotes the inner meaning that the courts do exercise their discretion to some extent subject to certain limitations. That discretion is to be sparingly exercised.The interpretation to the said provision is to be given purposive construction. It means to say that, if circumstances of the case are not too dangerous, or not too heinous, and not endangering the public life or society and at the same time grilling the accused person for a longer time in the prison may lead to irreparable injustice, then the courts can quash the trial court proceedings and can order for compounding of the case though it is coming within the ambit of Non compoundable list.

Section 320 classifies compoundable offences into two categories:
The classification of offences under section 320 is as follows:

  • Court permission is required before compounding– Causing miscarriage, Voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Criminal breach of trust, bigamy etc.

  • Court permission is not required before compounding– Voluntarily causing hurt, Wrongfully restrainment or confinement of any person, Assault or use of criminal force, Theft, Cheating, Fraudulent removal or concealment of property, Criminal trespass, Adultery, Criminal intimidation etc.

While non-compoundable offences are those offences which are slightly more serious in nature than compoundable offences. Due to its gravity, these offences, cannot be compounded and can only be quashed. All the offences which are not mentioned under section 320 of CrPC are classified as non-compoundable offences. In these cases, the State or the police files case and act as the complainants and hence it is not possible for them to enter into a compromise.

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Guidelines for quashing criminal proceedings in case of non-compoundable offences

The Supreme Court, in The State of Madhya Pradesh v Lakshmi Narayan, laid down certain guidelines to be followed by High Courts under Section 482 of CrPC while quashing criminal proceedings in non-compoundable offences. These are:

  1. The offence must predominantly be a civil or commercial matter,

  2. The High Court must refrain from quashing criminal proceedings of serious and heinous offences that may seriously impact society,

  3. In case of offences committed under Section 307 of IPC (murder), which are categorized under serious and heinous offences, the High Court shall not base their decision entirely upon the fact that the offence committed falls under Section 307. They must examine whether there is enough evidence to support the involvement of Section 307,

  4. If the offence committed falls within the ambit of any special statute such as the Prevention of Corruption Act, or is committed by a public servant while they function in that capacity, the High Court must refrain from quashing the criminal proceedings, even if the victim and the offender compromise, and

  5. In cases of private offence, the High Court must consider the conduct of the accused.

Important JudgmentsRelated to Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offences

Rameshchandra J, Thakkar vs. A. P. Jhaveri & Anr it was held that “If an acquittal is based on the compounding of an offence and the compounding is invalid under the law, the acquittal would be liable to be set aside by the High Court in the exercise of its revisional powers.” If there any non-compoundable offence has been compounded, against the law and the acquittal of the accused made is based on the same compromise, the High Court has the power to set aside such order.

Narinder Singh v State of Punjab: In the above case, all the principles are taken into consideration by the Supreme Court, and several judgments led down regarding compromise in non-compoundable cases and laid down the following guidelines regarding quashing criminal proceeding in case of non-compoundable offences by high courts when invoking their inherent powers provided under Section 482 of the CrPC;

However, in some cases, the Supreme Court gave permission for compounding the offence under section 307, Indian Penal Code (attempt to commit murder) in the case of ‘Mahesh Chand v State of Rajasthan‘.

While in the Supreme Court in ‘Ram Lal v State of J&K'by overruled its decision, held that “an offence which law declares to be non-compoundable even with the permission of the court cannot be compoundable at all”.

In the case ‘B.S. Joshi v State of Haryana’, Supreme Court held that “in a situation of proceedings on the basis of non-compoundable offences like Section 498-A and 406, the High Court could quash them under Section 482 CrPC”.

In ‘Gian Singh v State of Punjab‘, the Supreme Court upholding the decision of ‘B.S. Joshi v State of Haryana', observed that “offences arising out of family disputes or matrimony relating to dowry, etc in which wrong is basically private in nature and parties have resolved their disputes, High Court may quash the proceeding under Section 482 of the Code”. As this is the power which is different from the power of a criminal court to compound the offences.

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Compounding offences under various laws

1. Compounding Offences under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999: Contravention under the FEMA Act refers to a violation of any of the rules, regulations, orders, notifications, or directions issued under the Act. Compounding such contraventions means willingly admitting to the contravention, pleading guilty for them, and seeking redressal. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is authorized to compound any contravention as defined under Section 13 of the Act. This is a voluntary process undertaken by an individual or corporate to seek the compounding of contravention. The added benefits of compounding of contraventions under FEMA include: (i) avoiding litigation, (ii) non-initiation of further proceedings, and (iii) reducing the burden of the judiciary.

2. Compounding of offence under Direct Tax Laws: The Chief Commissioner of Income Tax or Director General of Income Tax may compound any offense under Chapter XXII either before or after the proceedings have been instituted as per Section 279(2) of the Income Tax Act. Offences under Chapter XXII are classified into Category A and B for the purpose of compounding. Compounding an offence is not a matter of right. Any competent authority may compound an offence when conditions, as prescribed in the Guidelines, have been satisfied.

3. Compounding of offence under Companies Act, 2013: When an offence has been committed under the Companies Act, 2013, or a provision has been violated, or default or delay has occurred, instead of permitting the initiation of proceedings, the directors may apply to get the offence compounded if the offence is a compoundable one. Section 441 of the Companies Act, 2013 deals with the compounding of offences. According to Section 441(1), an offence punishable with a fine only shall be compoundable. However, it shall not be compounded if the investigation into such offence has commenced. Any offence punishable with imprisonment only or imprisonment and fine shall not be compounded.

Help of a Lawyer in your criminal case

A lawyer having substantial experience in handling criminal cases can guide you through the court procedure and can help you prepare solid argumentsfor your case. He can prepare you for cross-examinations and guide you on how to answer prosecution’s questions. Acriminal lawyeris an expert in dealing with criminal cases knows how to tackle a particular case owing to his years of experience. Having a good criminal lawyer by your side you can ensure a successful result in your case in the minimum time possible. He/She can help you in guiding you whether the offence you're dealing with is compoundable or not, the procedure to compound the same, and whether or not you should go ahead with compounding the offence.You can alsoask a lawyer onlinea free legal question using LawRato's Ask a Free Question service.

List of Compoundable Offences

Section of IPC

Type of Offence

Person by whom offence may be compounded

298 IPC

Uttering words, etc., with deliberate Intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.

The person whose religious feelings are intended to be wounded.

323 IPC

Causing hurt.

The person to whom the hurt is caused.

334 IPC

Voluntarily causing hurt on provocation.

The person to whom the hurt is caused.

341, 342, 343, 344, 346 IPC

Wrongfully restraining or confining any person.

The person restrained or confined.

352, 355, 358 IPC

Assault or use of criminal force.

The person assaulted or to whom criminal force is used.

426, 427 IPC

Mischief, when the only loss or damage caused is loss or damage to a private person.

The person to whom the loss or damage is caused.

447 IPC

Criminal trespass.

The person in possession of the property trespassed upon.

448 IPC

House trespass.

The person in possession of the property trespassed upon.

491 IPC

Criminal breach of contract of service.

The person with whom the offender has contracted.

497 IPC


The husband of the woman.

498 IPC

Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent of a married woman.

The husband of the woman.

500 IPC

Defamation. except such eases as are specified against section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) in column I of the Table under sub?section (2)

The person defamed.

501 IPC

Printing or engraving matter, knowing it to be defamatory.

The person defamed.

502 IPC

Sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter, knowing it to contain such matter.

The person defamed.

504 IPC

Insult intended to provoke a breach of the peace.

The person insulted.

506 IPC

Criminal intimidation except when the offence is punishable with Imprisonment for seven years.

The person intimidated.

508 IPC

Act caused by making a person believe that he will be an object of divine displeasure.

The person against whom the offence was committed.



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