Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) deals with the “Compoundable offences” which means the cases in which the parties can compound (settle) the offence with the permission of the court. It states that: “The offences which are specified in the First Schedule, and the offences under any other law which the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be compoundable, shall be compoundable.”
It also provides that any offence punishable under the CrPC can be compounded under the following circumstances:
- With the permission of the court in which the prosecution is pending
- With the permission of the court to which the case is transferred
- With the permission of the court which is competent to try the offence.
However, it also lays down that certain offences cannot be compounded, such as offences committed by public servants while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties, offences punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and offences relating to counterfeiting coin, government stamp or attempt to murder.
It’s important to note that Section 320 CrPC lays down the general principle and it’s the first schedule of the CrPC which contains the list of offences which are compoundable. It states that:
- An offence, which is compoundable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or any other law, may be compounded by the persons, who are authorized by the law to do so.
- Any offence may be compounded by the persons mentioned in the First Schedule of the Code.
- Any offence may also be compounded by the persons mentioned in the Second Schedule of the Code.
- Any offence may also be compounded by the persons mentioned in the Third Schedule of the Code.
- The court may impose any condition while granting permission for compounding the offence.
- Once the permission is granted and the bond is executed, the case shall not proceed further and the accused shall be discharged.
The Schedule I, II, III of the CrPC specify the offences which are compoundable and who are the persons authorized to compound the offence. The Schedule I contains the offences under the Indian Penal Code that are compoundable with or without the permission of the court.
Schedule II contains the offences under other laws which are compoundable with the permission of the court and Schedule III contains the offences which are compoundable without the permission of the court.
It’s important to note that the court has discretion to grant or deny permission to compound an offence, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and it must be satisfied that the compromise is genuine and the interests of justice will not be prejudiced.