What is Compoundable Offence And Non Compoundable Offence?


Lawmakers classified the offences broadly in three categories on the basis of their nature. These are

(a) Cognizable offence and Non-Cognizable offence

(b) Bailable offence and Non-Bailable offence,

(c) Compoundable and Non-Compoundable offence.

Compoundable offences are the offences that can be compromised, which means the complainant can agree to take back the charges levied against the accused, whereas, non – compoundable offences are the offences which are more serious offences in which the parties cannot compromise.


These offences are the offences where, the complainant compromises, and agrees to take back the charges which have been dropped against the accused. However, such compromise should be Bonafide in nature, and there must be no consideration to which the complainant is not entitled to. It can also be stated as a settlement between the parties where the aggrieved person or the victim receives some consideration or gratification for not prosecuting the accused. Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides a list of offences which are compoundable in nature and are punishable under a different section of the Indian Penal Code.


  1. Criminal or house-trespass
  2. Uttering words with an intent to hurt any person’s religious feeling.
  3. Printing or engraving matters, knowing as defamatory.
  4. Criminal breach of contract of services.


Non- Compoundable offences are the offences, which cannot be compounded. They can only be quashed. It is because the nature of offence which is more serious, grave and criminal, that the Accused cannot be allowed to be free with some settlements. These offences cannot be compounded. Here, in such type of cases, it is the “state”, i.e. police, who files the case, and so the question compromise does not arise. All the offences which are not mentioned in Section 320 of CrPC are non-compoundable offences.
In such offences both private party, as well as the society, are affected by such offences. Here, no compromise is allowed. Even the court is not having the authority to compound such offences. In these offences, the only full trial can take place which either leads to conviction or acquittal of such offender.


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.


Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 there is a difference made between compoundable offences and non-compoundable offences.

Section 320 of CrPC deals with Compoundable offences which are less serious in nature. Under a compoundable offence, the complainant who filed the case may enter into a compromise and can drop the charges made against the accused.

Two elements of compromise:

  1. It must be bonafide in nature
  2. The complainant must not receive any consideration that he is not entitled to.

Section 320[4] classifies compoundable offences into two categories:

  1. Court permission is required before compounding– Causing miscarriage, Voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Criminal breach of trust, bigamy etc
  2. 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.

There is a various case related to the compounding of offences:

Rameshchandra J, Thakkar vs. A. P. Jhaveri & Anr[5]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[6]: In the above case, all the principles are taken into consideration by 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[7].

While in The Supreme Court in ‘Ram Lal v State of J&K[8] 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[9], 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[10], the Supreme Court upholding the decision of ‘B.S. Joshi v State of Haryana'[3], 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.


Basically it can be stated that the offences in which criminal liability seizes at the stance of compromise are compoundable in nature and hence are compoundable offences while in the offences where compromise cannot take place or criminal liability does not end even it is compromised known as Non- Compoundable offences. However, the determination of the quantum of sentence court considers decided the fact of compromise.R

[1] Section 320 Code of Criminal Procedure

[2] https://lawrato.com/indian-kanoon/criminal-law/what-is-a-compoundable-and-non-compoundable-offence-in-india611#:~:text=Compoundable%20offences%20are%20those%20offences,complainant%20is%20not%20entitled%20to.


[4] Sec 320 CrPC

[5] 2014  6 SCC 466

[6] (2017) 6 SCC 466

[7] 1990 SUPP (1) SCC 681

[8] 1999 2 SCC 213

[9] 2003 4 SCC 675

[10] 2012 10 SCC 303

This article is written by Aanchal Sinha student of 2 YEAR, BA.LL.B (Hons.) at THE ICFAI UNIVERSITY, DEHRADUN

Also Read: What is Plea Bargaining?

Law Corner

Leave a Comment