What is The Difference Between Cognizable and Non Cognizable Offence Under CrPC?

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(1) Introduction:

The Criminal Procedure Code, 1974, is a procedural Law, that is deals with the legal process of offensive matters related to crime. It is doesn’t matter whether criminal offences are covered under the Indian Penal Code or any other laws. 

The offence means an illegal act or crime that is prohibited by law. If anyone does, he can be punished, for his illegal activities, as per the provisions of the law.

In India, any person who commits an offence that is forbidden by the Indian Penal Code, or any other criminal law, can be punished under the procedure of criminal procedure code.

As we know, crime is a crime, as well, a person can be punished who commits the offence, but sometimes we do not know that is the Difference between cognizable and non-cognizable offence?

(2) Classification of offences:

The offence can be divided by nature and seriousness of the crime into the following terms.

(1) Bailable and Non- bailable offence.

(2) Cognizable and Non- cognizable offence.

(3) Compoundable and Non-compoundable offence.

In this article, we discuss in detail the Cognizable and Non-cognizable offences. And will try to understand that, what is the difference between cognizable and non-cognizable offences?

(3) What is a Cognizable offence?

The definition of the cognizable offence is defined in the criminal procedure code,1974, section 2(C), according to this, we can say that Cognizable offence means such type of offence or case in which a police officer can arrest anyone without a warrant in compliance with the first schedule of criminal procedure code, or under some other law for time being in force. [1].

These types of offences are covered in the dangerous nature of offences. For the example of these offences, we can say, Murder, Kidnaping, Rape, Theft, Dowry death, Criminal breach of trust, or any Brutal offences, etc. All these offences are covered under the non-bailable, according to the seriousness and nature of the crime.

According to the provision of section 154 of the criminal procedure code,  a police officer is allowed to file a first information report (FIR) for cognizable offences before the FIR is registered he could conduct a preliminary investigation. 

Accused must be brought before a judge within a prescribed time in the case of cognizable offences.

 (4) Duties of a police officer’s in a cognizable case:

Section 154 of CrPC mentions that, In the matter of the cognizable case, any officer or in-charge of a police station will investigate the case, without an order of a magistrate. He has the power to investigate such a case, which the court having jurisdiction over the legal area within the limit of his police station.[2]

 (5) Section 154 of Crpc is mandatory?

The answer to the question is yes. Section 154 is mandatory in the cognizable offence, every concerned officer of the police station is duty-bound to register a case based on the first information report (FIR) were disclosed cognizable offence.

In the case of Ramesh Kumari V/S State (N.C.T. of Delhi) and Ors. (AIR-2006 S.C. 1322), the supreme court held that The provision of section 154 of the CrPC is mandatory and the officer concerned is required to report the case on the basis of the information disclosed by him or her.[3].

Here one thing we should know that it is not necessary for that report should contain all details of the manner of offence occurrence. In the case of Hem raj and other V/S State of Punjab,(AIR 2003 S.C. 4259), the supreme court observed that A report which discloses the commission of a cognizable offence must be treated as an FIR.[4].

In the case of Vinod G. Asrani V/S State of Maharashtra (AIR, 2007 S.C.1253), The supreme court rightly observed that The scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure makes it clear that once information on the commission of an offence has been received in accordance with Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the investigative authorities shall take up the investigation and file charges against the person who was found to have been involved in the commission of that offence during the investigation. There is no hard and fast rule that the First Information Report must always contain the names of all persons involved in the commission of the offence. Very often the names of the guilty parties are not even mentioned in the F.I.R. and only appear at the stage of the investigation.[5].

(6) Essential Elements of Cognizable Offence:

  • Cognizable offences are these types where a police officer has the power to arrest any person without a warrant or permission of the magistrate.
  • After an arrest by a police officer, he has to produce the accused before the magistrate within the period (within 24 hours after the arrest.)
  • A police officer can investigate such a case before filing an FIR. But he must be entered in a general diary while starting the investigation of the case.

(7) What is a Non-cognizable offence?

In simple words, we can say that Non-cognizable means such a type of offence in which a police officer has no right to arrest any person without getting a warrant from the magistrate.

These offences are not covered in seriousness as a cognizable offence, for example, we can say that Cheating someone, Making forgery, Assaulting Defamation, Making of public nuisance, etc. All these types of crime can be covered in non-cognizable offences.

The definition of Non-cognizable offence is defined under section 2(L) of the criminal procedure code,1974. According to that, in non-cognizable offences, a police authority has no power to arrest anyone without a warrant.[6].

Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with a Non-cognizable case and investigation of such a case. According to that section, a police officer does not record the first information report (FIR) without obtaining prior permission of the court in the case of non-cognizable. A police officer must obtain prior permission from the magistrate.[7].

In the case of The State of M. P Vs. Abdul Rashi, (AIR 1963 M.P. 71), the Madhya Pradesh high court held that the report of a police officer in a non-cognizable case will not be a complaint within the meaning of Sec. 4 (1) (h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure although it will be so for the purposes of other enactments; for instance, under the Telegraph Act. The word ‘complaint’ as it occurs in other laws cannot be given the same limited and restricted meaning as has been expressly assigned to it in the Code of Criminal Procedure for the purposes of that Code. A case instituted on a report by police even in a non-cognizable case cannot be said to have been taken cognizance of on a “complaint”.[8].      

(8) Who can order the investigation?

The answer to this question is given in the case of B. K. Gupta and another Vs. The State, (AIR 1959 Calcutta- 286), the Calcutta high court observed that Sub-Section 2 of S. 155 requires a Magistrate of the first or second class or a Presidency Magistrate to have both territorial jurisdiction and power to try the case before he can make an order to investigate. It was not the intention of the legislature to empower a Magistrate of the first or second class or a Presidency Magistrate in any part of India to accord leave to the police to investigate a non-cognizable offence committed in another part of the country.[9].

In the case of Praveen Chandra Mody V. State of A.P. (AIR 1965 SC 1185), the supreme court has held that while investigating a cognizable offence and presenting a charge-sheet for it, the police are not debarred from investigating any non-cognizable offence arising out of the same facts and including them in the charge-sheet.[10].       

Reference :

(1)  criminal procedure code,1974, section 2(C).

(2) Section 154 of Crpc.

(3) Ramesh Kumari V/S State (N.C.T. of Delhi) and Ors. (AIR-2006 S.C. 1322).

(4) Hem raj and other V/S State of Punjab,(AIR 2003 S.C. 4259).

(5) Vinod G. Asrani V/S State of Maharashtra (AIR, 2007 S.C.1253).

(6) Section 2(L) of the criminal procedure code,1974.

(7) Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

(8) The State of M. P Vs. Abdul Rashi, (AIR 1963 M.P. 71).

(9) B. K. Gupta and another Vs. The State, (AIR 1959 Calcutta- 286).

(10) Praveen Chandra Mody V. State of A.P. (AIR 1965 SC 1185).

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