Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offences: Explained

Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offences

Dive into the world of compoundable and non-compoundable offences, their differences, and implications. Gain insights on legal nuances, consequences, and relevant examples. Get expert guidance and clarity on this vital legal topic.

We are all familiar with the maxim “interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium”. This Latin maxim implies that it would be in the best interests of the state to keep litigation to a minimum. There have been numerous cases pending before the high court and other subordinate courts for extended periods. Legislation provides the criminal justice system with an effective tool that, if utilized, could drastically decrease the time it takes to resolve a case. This tool is the concept of compounding of offences.

Watch this video on compoundable and non-compoundable offences to understand better:

Compoundable Offence

Compoundable offences are discussed in Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. These are offences in which the aggrieved person (the complainant) decides to drop the charges against the accused. These settlements, however, ought to be ‘in utmost good faith’. Compounding of a compoundable offence can be undertaken with the consent of the court or without consent. The complainant can request permission to compound the offence in the court in which the complaint was originally filed.

Court Permission Not Required

Section 320(1) contains a table that mentions offences that do not require consent or permission from the court for compounding. Examples of these offences are:

• Adultery – Section 497, IPC • Voluntarily causing hurt – Section 323, IPCDefamation – Section 500, IPC • Criminal trespass – Section 447, IPC

These offences are generally private offences and should not cause any harm to the general public or be against the well-being of the state. Heinous offences such as rape, murder, and dacoity cannot be compounded.

Court Permission Required

Section 320(2) contains a table referring to the second category of offences that necessitate the court’s consent before the parties can compromise. Examples of such offences are:

Theft – Section 379, IPC • Criminal breach of trust – Section 406, IPC • Voluntarily causing grievous hurt – Section 325, IPCAssault on a woman with the intention to outrage her modesty – Section 354, IPC • Dishonest misappropriation of property – Section 403, IPC

Effects of Compounding

Section 320(8) describes the effects of compounding an offence. It leads to the acquittal of the accused with whom the offence was compounded. Essentially, it amounts to the dismissal of the accusations made against the accused. It makes no difference whether the FIR was lodged or whether the trial had begun; as long as the offence was compounded with the court’s authorization, the offender is acquitted of all charges.

Non-Compoundable Offences

Non-compoundable offences cannot be compromised; instead, they must go through a full trial. These offences are more grave and serious, impacting society as a whole rather than just the victim. The prohibition against compounding such offences stems from the concern that doing so would permit serious offences to be tolerated in society. Non-compoundable offences, because they violate public policy, cannot be settled by a regular court. It’s essential that these are quashed, and compromise is not allowed. Even the court doesn’t have the authority to compound such offences. A full trial is held, ending with acquittal or conviction of the offender based on the evidence provided. As the offences not listed in Section 320 of the Criminal Procedure Code are regarded as non-compoundable offences, the list of offences under this is not exhaustive.

Examples of Non-Compoundable Offences:

• Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means – Section 324, IPCRash driving or riding on a public way – Section 279, IPC • Wrongfully confining a person for three days or more – Section 343, IPCAssault 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, rendering it impassable or less safe for traveling 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

OffenceCompoundable (Can be compromised)Non-Compoundable (Cannot be compromised)
Negotiable Instruments Act offencesYesNo
Offences related to marriage (e.g., dowry offences)Yes (with permission of the court)No (without permission of the court)
Criminal breach of trustYesNo
Simple hurtYesNo
AdulteryNo (Decriminalized now)Yes (Not applicable anymore)
Criminal intimidationYesNo
Criminal conspiracyNoYes

Difference Between Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offence

  1. Nature of Crime: Compoundable offences are typically not as serious as non-compoundable offences.
  2. Withdrawal of Charges: Charges made against the accused in compoundable offences can be withdrawn. In non-compoundable offences, charges cannot be withdrawn.
  3. Affected Parties: Compoundable offences usually impact only a private individual, whereas non-compoundable offences affect both private individuals and society at large.
  4. Compounding: Settlement in compoundable offences can be done either with permission or without permission of the court, while non-compoundable offences cannot be compounded.
  5. Filing of the Case: Cases involving compoundable offences are generally filed by a private person, while non-compoundable offence cases are filed by the state.

CriteriaCompoundable OffencesNon-Compoundable Offences
Ability to CompromiseCan be compromised/settled out of court.Cannot be compromised; must be tried by a court.
Role of the VictimVictim plays a significant role; can agree to settle.Victim’s consent not relevant; state prosecutes the offender.
Nature of OffenceGenerally less serious offences.Generally more serious offences.
SeriousnessConsidered less serious; affect individual rather than public at large.Considered more serious; affect society and public order.
Legal ProceedingsMay not require a full trial; can be settled through a mutual agreement.Require a full trial and judicial process.
Permission RequiredSome require permission from the court to settle.No provision for settlement out of court.
ExamplesNegotiable Instruments Act offences, defamation, simple hurt.Murder, rape, kidnapping, theft.


The concept of compounding offences has made significant strides. Today, it is regarded as an acceptable method of concluding a legal proceeding. In all offences that the law considers compoundable, the litigants can peacefully resolve their differences. Offences committed against an individual, which are not severe, can generally be classified as compoundable offences. These offences can be settled amicably without requiring court authorization. However, it is crucial to note that while the compounding of offences offers an expedient way to resolve disputes and reduce court backlog, it should not compromise the administration of justice, particularly in the context of more serious crimes with wider societal implications.

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FAQs on Compoundable and Non Compoundable Offences

1. What is the process for compounding an offence? For compoundable offences, the process involves the parties involved in the offence coming to an agreement. In cases where the court’s permission is required, the parties must approach the court with a mutual consent agreement.

2. Can a non-compoundable offence be turned into a compoundable one? No, a non-compoundable offence cannot be compromised or settled outside of court. These offences are considered serious and must go through the full judicial process.

3. How does the distinction between compoundable and non-compoundable offences impact the legal proceedings? The distinction affects the legal proceedings in terms of how an offence can be resolved. Compoundable offences offer a more flexible approach, often settled out of court. Non-compoundable offences require a more formal process, often resulting in a trial.

4. Are all property offences compoundable? No, not all property offences are compoundable. For example, theft is a non-compoundable offence, while criminal breach of trust is compoundable.

5. Who decides if an offence is compoundable or not? The distinction between compoundable and non-compoundable offences is defined by law, specifically in the Code of Criminal Procedure, and not by a decision of the court or the parties involved.

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