cognizable offences

Cognizable offence means as offence or means a case in which the Police ofiicer can arrest a person without warrant. And non-cognizable offence means an offence or means a case in which the Police ofiicer does not have the Police ofiicerwer to arrest a person without warrant.


Difference b/w cognizable offence and cognizable case: –


  1. ‘A’ has committed theft. ➞ offence.

When criminal proceedings against an offence are initiated then it became a case.

2.‘A’ enters into house of ‘B’ by breaking open the window and murdered ‘B’.

Here, ‘A’ committed,


  • Murder
  • Housebreaking
  • Mischief.

But a case may include a single offence or more than one offence.

3. Arrest without warrant or arrest with a warrant is just a feature or characteristic of the cognizable offence or non-cognizable offence.

4. The cognizable offence is a grave offence and non- cognizable offence is a less grave offence. But this statement is not completely true. Since punishment is not criteria to decide the cognizability or non-cognizability of an offence under IPC. It is the wisdom of the legislature to decide which offence of cognizable offence and which offence is non- cognizable offence.

For example – Sec 466 ➝ 7 years ➝ non- cognizable offence.

                       Sec 462 ➝ 3 years ➝ cognizable offence.

For any other law, the nature of offence has to be examined under that law and if nothing is mentioned there then an offence punishment with 3 years or more will be cognizable offence otherwise non- cognizable offence.

For IPC as such, there are no criteria to decide the cognizability and non-cognizability of offence rather the schedule has to be seen to examine the nature of offence. It is more of the Police ofiicerlicy of legislature to decide whether an offence is cognizable offence or non- cognizable offence.

In case of any other law, either the law itself will declare the nature of the offence and if the law is silent then criteria of punishment will be taken into account to decide the nature of the offence;


  1. An offence is punishable with less than a 3-year ➞ non- cognizable offence.
  2. An offence is punishable with more than a 3-year ➞ cognizable offence.

Example: – U/s 155 (4) ‘A’ has committed several offence (cognizable + non- cognizable, both).

           A single FIR was lodged for all the offence.

           It will be considered to be the cognizable case as per sec 155 (4).

If in a case even a single offence is cognizable the entire case will be treated as a cognizable case. Thus neither offence should be cognizable.

In cognizable cases, the Police ofiicer can arrest without a warrant but not in the non-cognizable case.


Cognizable Case


  1. Police ofiicer can arrest without warrant sec 2 (c).
  2. For investigation, no need of order to


Non- Cognizable Case


  1. Police ofiicer cannot arrest without warrant sec 2 (l).
  2. Police ofiicerlice cannot investigate without the order to investigate sec 156 (1).

So, the real test to examine the cognizability or non-cognizability of offence is to see declaration made in the schedule and not the punishment.


FIR Under Cognizable Offence: –


  1. When the Police ofiicer receives the information about the commission of the cognizable offence.
  2. If information is;
  3. Oral ➞ he may reduce it in writing.
  4. Writing ➞ he may het it type or may take it as it is.
  5. He will read the information to the complainant. If the complainant suggests some suggestion then the same will be corrected.
  6. But too much correction in fir will raise the suspicion as to the reliability of FIR.
  7. He himself sign the information and get is signed by the complainant.
  8. FIR is registered in four copies.

(a). One copy to SHO. (b) One copy to the magistrate. (c) One copy to informant (d) One copy to IO.

Lalita Kumari v/s St. of UP

It was held that;


  1. If the offence is of grave offence than direct FIR. E.g. rape, murder, etc.
  2. If the offence is less grave offence than;

 A complaint   ➞ preliminary investigation ➞ complaint will be converted into FIR.


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