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Report No. 237

326. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.-

Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 335, voluntarily causes grievous hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance, or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

5.19 The offence under Section 326 is punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and fine. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt without using dangerous weapons or means has been a compoundable offence in the old Penal Code and this is so in the new Code as well. The offence under Section 325 IPC carries with it punishment of 7 years or less. None of the offences in the IPC which carries imprisonment above 7 years is made compoundable. The cardinal principle is that the gravity of crime should be duly taken into account.

The accused covered by Section 326 has not only caused grievous hurt but acted in a cruel manner with a dangerous weapon without regard to the life and liberty of the victims. The offence under Section 326 falls on the borderline of the offence of attempting to commit murder (Section 307) or the offence under Section 304. Violent acts such as causing disfiguration of head or face (by throwing acid, etc.), emasculation, permanent privation of the eye sight or hearing and destruction of the powers of any member or joint are within the fold of Section 326.

It is a very serious crime and the compromise between the victim and accused should not be recognized in law. There are so many related offences following Section 326 i.e. Section 327 (causing hurt to extort property), Section 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and Sections 329, 330 and 331 (causing hurt or grievous hurt to extort property/confession), which are punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment extending up to 10 years. None of these offences is made compoundable.

The legislative policy is clear that such grave offences should not be made compoundable. It is not desirable to unduly stretch the net of compounding. The mere fact that some pendency in the Courts will be reduced if the offences are allowed to be compounded, is not a valid argument to justify enlargement of the list of compoundable offences so as to include even offences of very serious and grave nature which imperil the law and order. As said earlier, the law should have a cautious and balanced approach to the problem of compounding.

5.20 We have said so much on Section 326 because of the solitary observation of the Supreme Court in the case of Ramgopal v. State of M.P. that the offences like Section 326 ought to be made compoundable. There is no further discussion as the Law Commission and Law Ministry are required by the Court to give attention to the aspect of including more offences in the list of compoundable offences.

Obviously, no law has been laid down and it is only a prima facie view expressed in passing. The Supreme Court has appropriately left it to the decision of the Government and the recommendation of the Law Commission. Incidentally, it may also be apt to refer to an earlier decision of the Supreme Court in Manoj Sharma v. State, 2008 14 SCALE 44. It was observed as follows:

"There can be no doubt that a case under Section 302 IPC or other serious offences like those under Sections 395, 307 or 304B cannot be compounded and hence proceedings in those provisions cannot be quashed by the High Court in exercise of its power under Section 482 Cr. P.C. or in writ jurisdiction on the basis of compromise.

However, in some other cases, (like those akin to a civil nature) the proceedings can be quashed by the High Court if the parties have come to an amicable settlement even though the provisions are not compoundable. Where a line is to be drawn will have to be decided in some later decisions of this Court, preferably by a larger bench (so as to make it more authoritative)."

5.21 The Commission is not inclined to disturb the well laid-out scheme of compoundable offences substantially and be guided primarily by the consideration to get rid of the cases on the Court's docket.



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