Offences are those acts or
omissions which are punishable in nature by the state and against which a
complaint is registered with the police or magistrate. Thus any illegal act or
a crime implies an offence.In the legal system of India offences are classified
into cognizable and non cognizable offences.
Section 2 (n) of Criminal
Procedure Code, 1973 define Offence as-
"offence" means any act or
omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force and includes
any act in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 20 of the
Cattle- trespass Act, 1871 (1 of 1871 )
Cognizable Offence is one in
which the police officer may arrest without warrant as given under the First
Schedule of Criminal Procedural Code, 1975 or any other law for time being in
force. Cognizable offences are generally serious in nature. The police take
cognizance of such offences on its own and go forward with investigation. For
example- Murder, Rape, Dowry Death, Kidnapping, etc.
Section 2 (c) of Criminal
Procedure Code, 1973 define 'Cognizable Offence' as-
"cognizable offence" means an offence for which, and "cognizable case" means a case in
which, a police officer may, in accordance with the First Schedule or under any
other law for the time being in force, arrest without warrant;
According to Section 154 of CrPC under
cognizable offences or cases, the Police officer has to receive the FIR and
immediately start the investigation. The police officer can investigate without
the Magistrate's permission in cases involving cognizable offences.
Case laws for cognizable
In Smt. Gurmito vs. State of Punjab And Ors (1996) the court held that
the police cannot refuse to register the case on the ground that it is not
reliable or credible.
In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh vs.
PunatiRamulu And Others (1993) it was held thatrefusal to record FIR on the ground that the
place of crime does not fall within the territorial jurisdiction of the police
station, amount to dereliction of duty. Information about cognizable offence
would have to be recorded and forwarded to the police station having
Non-Cognizable Offenceis one in
which the police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant. These
offences are not very serious in nature as compared to cognizable offences. For
example - Assault, Forgery, Defamation, Cheating.
Section 2 (l) of Criminal
Procedure Code, 1973 define 'Non-Cognizable Offence' as-
"non- cognizable offence" means an offence for which,
and "non- cognizable case" means a case in which, a police officer
has no authority to arrest without warrant;
According to Section 155 of CrPC,
1973 the police officer cannot record an FIR without obtaining prior permission
of the Magistrate. The police officer has to obtain the Magistrate's permission
in order to start investigation in non-cognizable offences.
Case Law on non-cognizable offences
was observed in Chinnaswami v. Kuppuswami, that ensuring the freedom
and safety of the subject is the object of the Code and that it gives him the
right to come to court if he believes that a wrong has been done to the State
Police Officer is
authorized to arrest without warrant.
required warrant to arrest.
Approval from Court
is not required to investigate the offence.
Prior Approval of
the Magistrate is required to start investigation.
FIR and Complaint
Murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, etc.
Forgery, cheating, assault, defamation etc.
Cognizable offences are either bailable
or non-bailable in nature depending on the severity of the offence, whereas
non-cognizable offences are bailable offences. Non-cognizable offences usually
attract punishment of imprisonment for less than three years or sometimes fine
only, whereas cognizable offences often are punished with imprisonment for
three years or more.