Cognizable and Non Cognizable Offences

cognizable and non-cognizable offences

The Code of Criminal Procedure is proposed to present a method for enforcement of Criminal Law. According to the First Schedule of Indian Penal Code, the offences such as culpable homicide, murder, theft and rape are classified into cognizable offences and bailable offences are classified as non-cognizable offences. The First Schedule of Code under Indian Penal Code and other laws into cognizable and non-cognizable offences.

In the cases of offences under any penal law, the offence which is punishable with imprisonment for three years or more, the offence is cognizable and if the punishment is imprisonment for less than three years then the offence is non- cognizable. Section 2(c) and Section 2(1) of the Code defines the Cognizable and Non- Cognizable Offences.

Offences Under Criminal Procedure Code

The Offences which are stated in Indian Penal Code(IPC) are referred to be tried under the Court by following the procedure of CrPC. To find the authenticity of a crime or as to know whether it is a criminal act or not the Indian Penal Code(IPC)  is used. Therefore, the confirmation of the criminal act leads to the prosecution of the case which is given in the Criminal Procedure Code of India. The Code provides all necessary methods for finding of crime, the arrest of suspects, collection of evidence, determination of guilt or innocence of accused and execution of punishment on the guilty person.

Cognizable Offences or Cognizable Cases

Cognizable Offence means an offence which a Police Officer can arrest the accused by the First Schedule or under any law. Cognizable Offences are the offence in which a police officer can arrest a person or accused without warrant. The offences that come under cognizable cases are more serious in nature. Murder, Culpable Homicide and rape are categorized into the cognizable offences. If a police officer in charge gets information of commission of the cognizable offence, he has to record first information and required to register the case to start the investigation. The police officer-in-charge can investigate without any prior order from the court.

In the case, Vadlamudi Kutumba Rao [i]it was held that in order to be a cognizable case it would be enough that one or more offences should be cognizable and there can be no case under code which is partly non-cognizable.

Examples Of Cognizable Offences

The Following are the examples of cognizable offences:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Dowry Death
  • Theft
  • Culpable Homicide
  • Waging War
  • Unnatural Offences.

The Power of Police Officers to Investigate Cognizable Offences and Cases

Section 156(3)CrPC provides power to a police officer to investigate into a cognizable offence. The police officer has the authority to start an investigation of the cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate. And also a Magistrate who empowered under Section 190 CrPC can order a police officer in charge to investigate any cognizable offences[ii]In the case, Seema Devi v. the State of U.P[iii], it was held that it is the primary duty of the police officer in charge of station to register First Information Report(F.I.R) and if the police in charge not recorded the F.I.R, then the Magistrate has the power to issue directions under Section156(3) to register and investigate the case.

In the case, Tula Ram v. Kishore Singh[iv], it was held that a magistrate can order investigation under  Section156(3) only at the pre cognizance stage. In the case Mohammed Yousaf v. Afaq Jahan [v]it was held that the police officer has to register an FIR when the investigation is ordered by Magistrate under Section 156(3).

Non Cognizable Offences Or Non Cognizable Cases

An offence in which a police officer is not empowered to arrest the accused without a warrant.If a police officer. The non -cognizable offences are minor offences. Assault, causing simple hurt are some of the non- cognizable offences. The police in charge of the police station can record the  F.I.R only with the prior permission from the Magistrate.


The following are the examples of non-cognizable offences:

  1. Assault
  2. Causing Simple Hurt
  3. Cheating
  4. Forgery

The Power of Police Officer To Investigate Non Cognizable Offence

By Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it provides a police officer cannot record F.I.R without the permission of the Magistrate. A Magistrate gives the order to a police officer to investigate the non-cognizable offence after receiving the order police officer exercise the power to the investigation. A police officer in certain circumstances can investigate non-cognizable offences. For example, in case of an offence under the Opium Act, a police officer can arrest without warrant if accused not furnishing the security required.

In the case Adesh Kumar Gupta v. CBI[vi] it was held that after receiving the complaint on non-cognizable offence, the police officer in charge is required to record the said information in a book kept for such purpose and then refer the informant to Magistrate.

In the case Kaithiravan v. Commissioner of Police[vii], it was held in the case that, the police officer in charge of receiving non- cognizable offence complaint has to follow the provisions under Section 155 of CrPC.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cognizable offence?

An offence in which a police officer arrest the accused without a warrant.In Cognizable offence which a Police Officer can arrest the accused following the First Schedule or under any law.

What is non-cognizable offence?

An offence in which the police officer in charge has no authority to arrest the accused without the warrant. The non-cognizable offences are minor offences. Assault, causing simple hurt are some of the non-cognizable offences.

Which are the examples of cognizable offence?

The following are the examples of cognizable offences: Murder, Rape, Kidnapping, Dowry Death, Theft, Culpable Homicide, Waging War, Unnatural Offences.

What is the meaning of taking cognizance?

The term “taking cognizance” not defined in the Criminal Procedure Code. The Magistrate takes cognizance of a case under Section190(1) (a) Cr.P.C, only to proceed with the procedure of the Criminal Procedure Code and sending complaint for other enquiry. Under Section 153(3) of Cr.P.C, a magistrate can order an investigation.

“The views of the authors are personal


[i] 1961 2 Cr. L.J. 605

[ii] Section 156(3) Code of Criminal Procedure

[iii] Criminal Appeal No. – 1647 of 2018

[iv] 1977 AIR 2401

[v] 2006, SCC 627

[vi] W.P. (CRL) 725/2015

[vii] 2011 1 CTC 395

Malavika P
My name is Malavika P and I am from Nehru Academy of Law Kerala ,pursuing BBA LL.B(Hons.).I am interested in Criminal Laws,Constitutional Laws and Media Laws.During my free time I used to research on new topics and learn about it.I spend my time mostly watching thriller movies and also reading classic fictions.I would love to try new food and I am passionate about cooking, it is really a great experience that makes me happy always.