What is a Cognizable and Non Cognizable offence in India

  • Under the Criminal Procedure Code, offences can be classified on the basis of the following three criterions;

    • Cognizable and Non Cognizable offences
    • Bailable and Non bailable offences
    • Offences which will invoke a summons case and Offences which will invoke a warrants case.

    Difference between Cognizable and Non Cognizable offences

    Cognizable and non-cognizable offences Cognizable offences have been defined in Criminal Procedure Code as follows;
    Cognizable Offence
    • 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.
    • Cognizable offenses are those offenses which are serious in nature. Example- Murder, Rape, Dowry Death, Kidnapping, Theft, Criminal Breach of Trust, Unnatural Offenses.
    • Section 154 of CrPc provides, that under a Cognizable offense or case, The Police Officer has to receive the First Information Report (FIR) relating to the cognizable offense, which can be without the Magistrate’s permission and enter it in the General Diary and immediately start the investigation.
    • If a Cognizable offense has been committed, a Police Officer can investigate without the Magistrate’s permission.
    Non Cognizable offence
    • A non-cognizable offence has been defined in Criminal Procedure Code as follows, "`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".
    • Non-Cognizable offenses are those which are not much serious in nature. Example- Assault, Cheating, Forgery, Defamation.
    • Section 155 of CrPc provides that in a non-cognizable offense or case, the police officer cannot receive or record the FIR unless he obtains prior permission from the Magistrate.
    • Under a Non-Cognizable offense/case, in order to start the investigation, it is important for the police officer to obtain the permission from the Magistrate.


    These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer

    These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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