What is a Compoundable and Non Compoundable offence in India

हिंदी में पढ़ें
May 08, 2023
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

Table of Contents

  1. Meaning of Compoundable Offence
  2. Meaning of Non-Compoundable Offence
  3. Difference Between Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offences
  4. Compounding or Compromise in Non-Compoundable Offences
  5. Guidelines for quashing criminal proceedings in case of non-compoundable offences
  6. Important Judgments Related to Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offences
  7. Compounding offences under various laws
  8. Why do you need a lawyer?
  9. List of Compoundable Offences

Compoundable offences are those that can 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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Meaning of Compoundable Offence

Compoundable offences are those offences where, the complainant (one who has filed the case, i.e. the victim), enters 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.

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 the tables in Section 320 of the  Criminal Procedure Code , as follows:

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

Examples of these offences are:

Consult:  T op Criminal Lawyers in India

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

Examples of such offences are:

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.

There are some offences, although compoundable, that can be compounded only with the permission of the court. These offences should be compounded before the trial begins. Also where the accused has already been convicted, and an appeal is pending, the permission of the court is required for compounding such offences. The reason for seeking permission from the court is that these offences are grievous in nature, and are bad examples in society.

Examples of Compoundable Offences:

Meaning of Non-Compoundable Offence

Non-Compoundable offences are offences which cannot be compounded. They can only be quashed. The reason for this is that the nature of the 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 the complainant entering into compromise does not arise.

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

Under a non-compoundable offence, a private party as well as society, both are affected by such offences.

In a Non-compoundable offence, no compromise is allowed. Even the court does not have the authority and power to compound such an offence. A full trial is a trial that ends with the acquittal or conviction of the offender, based on the evidence given.


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Examples of Non-Compoundable Offences :

  • Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means -  Section 324, IPC

  • Rash driving or riding on a public way -  Section 279, IPC

  • Wrongfully confining a person for three days or more -  Section 343, IPC

  • Assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty -  Section 354, IPC

  • Criminal breach of trust by public servant or by banker, merchant or agent, etc. -  Section 409, IPC

  • Mischief by injury to public road, bridge, navigable river, or navigable channel, and rendering it impassable or less safe for travelling or conveying property -  Section 431, IPC

  • Counterfeiting a property mark used by a public servant, or any mark used by him to denote the manufacture, quality, etc., of any property -  Section 484, IPC


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 offences, the nature of the offence is not so serious. Whereas, in non-compoundable offences, the nature of the offence is serious.
2. Withdrawal of Charges: In compoundable offences, charges made against the accused can be withdrawn. While in non-compoundable offences, the charges against the accused cannot be withdrawn.
3. Affected parties: Compoundable offences impact only a private person. While non-compoundable offences, affect both, the private person as well as society at large.
4. Compoundable: In compoundable offences, settlement can be done either with permission or without the permission of the court. While in non-compoundable offences, the offence cannot be compounded; it can only be quashed.
5. Filing of the case: In compoundable offences, cases are generally filed by a private person. While in the non-compoundable offence, cases are filed by the state.

Consult:  T op Criminal Lawyers in India

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 that can be commercially or monetarily compensable. It is actually the hardship that is caused to the mind or body of the victim rather than causing him only pecuniary loss. Generally, the question of compromise will come into the picture where the loss sustained by the victim can equally be compensable in terms of money by the other.
Crime is essentially a wrong done to society rather than a wrong done to a private person. The object of criminal law is to punish the criminal attitude of the accused or wrongdoer rather than punishing him only physically. The convicted person after having undergone the punishment should never dare to think of repeating such criminal acts in the future. It is a 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 behind the bars.
Maybe because of this reason, the rigours of criminal law are relaxed to some extent paving the way for the compound ability of certain offences. These are such offences where the criminality that can be attributable to the wrongdoer is of less significance or no significance at all. They found a place in Section 320(1) and (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (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 offences cannot be compounded even with the permission of the court.
But in Mahesh Chand v. State of Rajasthan,1990 SCC(Cri)159:1989 Cri LJ121, the Supreme court permitted compounding of non-compoundable offences invoking its power under Article 142 of the Constitution to render complete justice to the parties concerned. 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) CrPC was completely ignored.
Again in B.S. Joshi V State of Haryana,(2003) 4 SCC 675, the question comes up before SC whether the High courts do vest with any powers to quash the proceedings involving non-compoundable offences under Section 482 of the Code 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 out 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 that are of non-compoundable in nature.
Now at this juncture, I would like to focus on the subtle difference between the provisions embodied under Sec. 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 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, and 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 of the said provision is to be given purposive construction. It means to say that, if the 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 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 Noncompoundable list.
Section 320 CrPC 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 that are slightly more serious in nature than compoundable offences. Due to their 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 a case and acts as the complainants hence it is not possible for them to enter into a compromise.

Consult:  T op Criminal Lawyers in India


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 an offence committed under Section 307 of IPC (attempt to murder), which is categorized under serious and heinous offences, the High Court shall not base its 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 Judgments Related 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 an 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 proceedings 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 the Supreme Court in ‘Ram Lal v State of J&K' 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 that 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 to 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 contraventions under FEMA include: (i) avoiding litigation, (ii) non-initiation of further proceedings, and (iii) reducing the burden of the judiciary.

2. Compounding offences under Direct Tax Laws: The Chief Commissioner of Income Tax or Director General of Income Tax may compound any offence 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 offences under the 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 an offence has commenced. Any offence punishable with imprisonment only or imprisonment and fine shall not be compounded.

Why do you need a lawyer?

A lawyer having substantial experience in handling criminal cases can guide you through the court procedure and can help you prepare solid arguments for your case. He can prepare you for cross-examinations and guide you on how to answer the prosecution’s questions. A  criminal lawyer  is an expert in dealing with criminal cases and knows how to tackle a particular case owing to his years of experience. Having a good criminal lawyer by your side can ensure a successful result in your case in the minimum time possible. He/She can help you by guiding you on 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 also  ask a lawyer online  a free legal question using LawRato's Ask a Free Question service.


List of Compoundable Offences

  • Section 298 IPC: Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person whose religious feelings are intended to be wounded.

  • Section 323 IPC: Causing hurt. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person to whom the hurt is caused.

  • Section 334 IPC: Voluntarily causes hurt on provocation. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person to whom the hurt is caused.

  • Sections 341, 342, 343, 344, 346 IPC: Wrongfully restraining or confining any person. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person is restrained or confined.

  • Sections 352, 355, 358 IPC: Assault or use of criminal force. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person assaulted or to whom criminal force is used.

  • Sections 426, 427 IPC: Mischief, when the only loss or damage caused is loss or damage to a private person. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person to whom the loss or damage is caused.

  • Section 447 IPC: Criminal trespass. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person in possession of the property trespassed upon.

  • Section 448 IPC: House trespass. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person in possession of the property trespassed upon.

  • Section 491 IPC: Criminal breach of contract of service. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person with whom the offender has contracted.

  • Section 497 IPC: Adultery. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The husband of the woman.

  • Section 498 IPC: Enticing or taking away or detaining with the criminal intent of a married woman. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The husband of the woman.

  • Section 500 IPC: Defamation. except such cases as are specified against section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) in column I of the Table under sub-section (2). Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person defamed.

  • Section 501 IPC: Printing or engraving matter, knowing it to be defamatory. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person was defamed.

  • Section 502 IPC: Sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter, knowing it to contain such matter. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person was defamed.

  • Section 504 IPC: Insult intended to provoke a breach of the peace. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person was insulted.

  • Section 506 IPC: Criminal intimidation except when the offence is punishable with Imprisonment for seven years. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person was intimidated.

  • Section 508 IPC: Act caused by making a person believe that he will be an object of divine displeasure. Person by whom offence may be compounded: The person against whom the offence was committed.


These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer
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