Cognizable and Non Cognizable offences in India

Cognizable and Non Cognizable offences in India


Cognizable offences have been defined in section 2( c) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

In cognizable offence/case a police officer is empowered to arrest without warrant, according to first schedule of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 or under any other law for the time being force.

Cognizable offences are always serious in nature .

  • Waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting the waging of war against the government of India,
  • Murder,
  • Rape,
  • Dowry Death.

According to section 154 of CrPC, 1973, if there is cognizable offence the Police officer has to receive the F.I.R ( First Information Report) relating to cognizable offences.

Investigating Cognizable Offences.

When it comes to investigation then any officer-in-charge of the Police Station ,  without taking permission from magistrate may investigate the cognizable case which the court is having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station the police has power to inquire into or try under the provisions of the Cr.PC, 1973.

FIR should be registered compulsorily , if information is received which discloses a cognizable offence, and no preliminary  inquiry is not permissible in that situation.

The Supreme Court of India, in Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of UP on 12 November, 2013 held that ‘FIR should be registered compulsorily , if information is received which discloses a cognizable offence, and no preliminary  inquiry is not permissible in that situation’.

The police cannot refuse to register the case on the ground that it is either not reliable or credible (Smt. Gurmito vs. State of Punjab And Ors 1996 CriLJ 1254 P&H). Further, refusal 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 jurisdiction (State of Andhra Pradesh vs. Punati Ramulu And Others, AIR 1993 SC 2644).

It is the duty of the officer-in-charge of the police station to register an FIR when investigation under section 156(3) of CrPC is directed by the Magistrate, even when the Magistrate explicitly does not say so (Mohd. Yoysuf vs. Afaq Jahan, (2006), SCC 627).


Section 2(1) of Cr.PC , 1973 defines  non-cognizable offence

Non-cognizable offence is an offence in which a Police Officer without any warrant cannot arrest  any individual.

Non-Cognizable offenses are not much serious in nature. Example-

  • Assault,
  • Cheating,
  • Forgery,

It has been provided in section 155 of Cr.PC , 1973 that in non-cognizable offence case a Police Officer can not register an F.I.R without the permission of Magistrate
In case of Non-Cognizable offence, it is important for the police officer to obtain the permission from the Magistrate to start the investigation.
In such offences for arrest, following steps have to be followed:

  • Filing of complaint/F.I.R.
  • Investigation
  • Charge sheet,
  • Charge sheet to be filed in court
  • Trial
  • Final order of arrest if case has been made out.

In Chinnaswami v. Kuppuswami, it was observed that the object of the Code is to ensure the freedom and safety of the subject in that it gives him the right to come to court provided he considers that a wrong has been done to the Republic or him and be a check upon police vagaries.


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