The best description of what are the compoundable or non-compoundable offences, and also the reasoning behind compounding is explained at below website:
Section 320 of the CrPC looks at compounding of offences. Compoundable offences are less serious criminal offences and are of two different types mentioned in tables in Section 320 of the CrPC, as follows:
1. Court permission is not required before compounding – Examples of these offences include adultery, causing hurt, defamation criminal trespass.
2. Court permission is required before compounding – Examples of such offences are theft, criminal breach of trust, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, assault on a woman with intention to outrage her modesty, dishonest misappropriation of property amongst others.
Non-compoundable Offences – All other offences not classified as compoundable in Section 320 of the CrPC are considered non-compoundable offences. These are offences considered more serious in nature and they impact not only the victim, but society at large is also considered to be affected.
Compounding can be done only upon agreeing by the accuser/affected party/victim. In some cases, only affected party’s consent is required for compounding, in other crimes the court’s permission is required in addition to victim’s consent. Who is a victim will be very clear in most crimes but in some crimes it can vary. E.g. for IPC 497, crime of Adultery, the victim is considered the husband of the woman, so his consent is required for compounding. Even if the woman had entered into the ‘crime’ wilfully and knowingly, it has no bearing on the matter.
Now IPC 498a is non-compoundable in most states except in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. This also means it is considered a serious crime and a crime against society, not just the woman. After recent bifurcation of Andhra into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, not sure whether the compoundability automatically extends to Telangana or not.
Quashing of the 498a case under CrPC 482 by High Courts is permissible. That happens as a mutual compromise deed between husband and wife with stamp of approval by the high court. That is not same as compounding under CrPC 320, where compounding is a part of the statute itself and doesn’t require any special intervention of high court. CrPC 482 is given below and it is quite short and sweet:
482. Saving of inherent power of High Court.
Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
Short translation: High courts can do many things if they put their mind to it, all it requires is how to define “securing the ends of Justice”! Evidently, doing the C-word in a cognizable and non-bailable IPC 498a is considered securing ends of justice which is why the divorce industry keeps running just fine based on filing of 498a FIRs and then doing these so called mutual compromise deeds and under CrPC 482. Ends of justice have been secured, now get out of here!
The bare act of CrPC 320 below gives both crimes which can be compounded by victim, and those which require court permission also.