Law Commission Recomendation on Compounding Section 498A IPC

Section 498A IPC should be made compoundable under Section 320(2) of CrPC so that it may be compounded with the permission of the Court. However, in order to ensure that the offer of composition is voluntary and free from pressures, it is proposed to introduce sub-section (2A) in Section 320 laying down the procedure for dealing with an application for compounding of an offence under Section 498A. The said subsection (2A) is set out in paragraph below

The other argument which is put forward against compounding is that hapless women especially those who are not much educated and who do not have independent means of livelihood, may be pressurized and coerced to withdraw the proceeding and the victim woman will be left with no option but to purchase peace though her grievance remains unsolved. However, this argument may not be very substantial. The same argument can be put forward in respect of compoundable offences wherever the victims are women. The safeguard of Court’s permission would, by and large, be a sufficient check against the possible tactics that may be adopted by the husband and his relations/friends. The function of the Court in this matter is not a mere formality. The Judicial Magistrate or Family Court Judge is expected to be extra-cautious and play an active role. In this regard, the judge can take the assistance of a woman lawyer or a professional counselor or a representative of Legal Services Authority and the woman concerned can be examined in his/her chambers in the presence of one of them.

Alternatively, the assistance of a lady colleague can also be sought for examining a woman victim in the chambers. Normally the trial Magistrates/Judges are sensitized in gender- related issues in the course of training at the Judicial Academies. In cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai etc. competent and trained mediators are involved in the process of bringing about an amicable settlement in marital disputes. Though the Court is expected to act with due care and caution in dealing with the application for compounding the offence under Section 498A, we are of the view that it is desirable to introduce an additional safeguard as follows:-

After the application for compounding an offence under S.498A of Indian Penal Code is filed and on interviewing the aggrieved woman, preferably in the Chamber in the presence of a lady judicial officer or a representative of District Legal Services Authority or a counselor or a close relation, if the Magistrate is satisfied that there was prima facie a voluntary and genuine settlement between the parties, the Magistrate shall make a record to that effect and the hearing of application shall be adjourned by three months or such other earlier date which the Magistrate may fix in the interests of Justice. On the adjourned date, the Magistrate shall again interview the victim woman in the like manner and then pass the final order permitting or refusing to compound the offence after giving opportunity of hearing to the accused. In the interregnum, it shall be open to the aggrieved woman to file an application revoking her earlier offer to compound the offence on sufficient grounds.

Source : LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA – Compounding of (IPC) Offences – Report No. 237

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