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Cognizable and Non Cognizable offences

Offences can be classified as cognizable and non-cognizable offences. Cognizable offences are those in which the police can arrest without any warrant. These are more serious in nature. Non-cognizable offences on the other hand are those for which a police officer has no authority to arrest, unless with a warrant.

Difference between Cognizable and Non Cognizable offences

Cognizable and Non-Cognizable offences have been defined in Criminal Procedure Code as follows;
Cognizable Offence

  • Cognizable offence means an offence for which a police officer may, in accordance with the First Schedule or under any other law for the time being in force, arrest without a warrant.
  • Cognizable offences are those offences which are serious in nature. Example- Murder, Rape, Dowry Death, Kidnapping, Theft, Criminal Breach of Trust, Unnatural Offences.
  • Section 154 of CrPc provides that under a Cognizable offence or case, the Police Officer has to receive the First Information Report (FIR) relating to the cognizable offence, which can be obtained without the Magistrate’s permission and enter it in the General Diary to immediately start the investigation. An FIR sets the criminal law in motion.
  • If a Cognizable offence 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- as “a case in which, a police officer has no authority to arrest without a warrant”.
  • Non-Cognizable offences are those which are less serious in nature. Example- Assault, Cheating, Forgery, Defamation, etc.
  • Section 155 of CrPc provides that if a police officer receives information regarding the commission of a non-cognizable offence, he is supposed to enter the substance of the case in the station diary and refer the informant to approach the concerned Magistrate.
  • Under a Non-Cognizable offence/case, in order to start the investigation, it is important for the police officer to obtain the permission from the Magistrate.


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