Is Grant of Leave for Compounding of Offence U/s 320 CrPC automatic? Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has observed that grant of leave as contemplated u/s 320(5) of CrPC is not automatic nor mechanical on receipt of a request by the accused which might be agreed by the victim.

The observation described above was made while the Bench rejected a bail plea seeking compounding of an offence of two police personnel who are accused in a custodial violence case.

Background:

In the instant case, the accused were convicted u/s 324 of IPC. Before the Supreme Court, the accused’s counsel stated that when the offence took place (.04.05.1985), offences u/s 324 IPC are compoundable and later made non-compoundable. He further submitted that both the accused were now above seventy-five years and therefore the offence should be made compoundable as the accused have settled with the victims.

Observation of the Court

While referring to Section 320, the Bench observed that an offence u/s 320 can only be compounded with Court’s permission. Therefore the composition of offence in facts of the present case is not permissible even if the parties have entered into a settlement and composition is only permissible by leave of Court.

The Bench further observed that offences that affect the public or create fear in public are severe and up to Court to refuse or grant leave. As per the evidence on record, it was clear that the accused had beaten up the victim mercilessly at a police station which led to the victim’s death.

While referring to the case at hand, the Bench noted that that one of the accused was in charge of the police station while the senior police officer had beaten the victim mercilessly who died the same night. The Court opined that their offence was not compoundable and the Court proceeded to reject the accused’s prayer.

However, the Court considered the accused’s age and reduced their sentence by six months and enhanced the compensation to the victim by Rs 3.5 lacs which should be paid to legal heirs of the victim.

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