Compoundability of non-compoundable offences

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Author : AVijayalakshmi
Published on : July 26, 2017

AVijayalakshmi's Profile and details
I am Vijayalakshmi took Master's degree in law with Mercantile law as specialisation in the year 1998 from Osmania university, Hyderabad. Joined in MG law college in 2001 and stick continuing as Asst.Professor.

Compoundability of 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.

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.

The power given under this section that is under Sec.482 cannot be applied as per the whims and fancies or as a matter of discretion. It is to be resorted to only where the cases are involving civil fragrance or commercial flavour or family disputes which are not too serious and not endangering the public life and which are purely private in nature then it may be resorted to.

A balance is to be stricken between the criminality of the offence and ends of justice. If the ends of justice are overweighed than the criminality, then the High courts can quash the Proceedings resulting in acquittal of the accused though they are non-compoundable in nature.

If the courts are not cautious and careful in invoking the provisions under Section 482, then it may cause huge loss to the human society. It may lead to diluting of public confidence in judicial system. The real culprits must always to be dragged to behind the bars. We should not loose the rigors of law in punishing the real culprits though we may relax them for the benefit of innocents. Otherwise it may pass a danger signal to the public. There is a need to strike a balance between Section 320 of Crpc and Section 482 of Crpc. When and where the respective provisions are to be invoked depends upon the facts and circumstances of the case. If the facts of the case are so demanding and if the inherent powers are not resorted to then it may cause irreparable injustice to the accused then definitely the courts will exercise these powers to meet the ends of justice and also to achieve the purpose and object of legislation.

*** B. Vijayalakshmi, co-author : G. Sudhavani Asst.Professor M.G.Law College