Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences Provisions and Comparative Analysis

Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences: Comparative Analysis

This article on ‘Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences: Provisions and Comparative Analysis‘ was written by Ankita Kumari, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


The official criminal code of India is known as the Indian Penal Code or IPC. It covers every significant facet of criminal law. It defines all actions that qualify as criminal offences. Offences can be categorized into categories based on their nature and seriousness. These include offences cognizable and Non Cognizable offences.

Cognizable offences are those in which without a warrant, police have the authority to arrest a person. On the other hand, Non-cognizable offences are those that are less serious. In this article, we will examine what is cognizable and non-cognizable offences are, a comparative analysis of how these two offences are different from each other, and what the related provisions of such offences are under the law.

What do you mean by Cognizable Offences?

Cognizable Offense is covered under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C. According to Section 2(c) of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is an offence if a police officer can detain the offender without a warrant and begin an inquiry without the proper authorization from the court. These are the offences that are typically severe and of the utmost gravity. For instance: dowry deaths, rape, murder, kidnapping, etc. Due to the seriousness and heinousness of all cognizable crimes, bail is not an option.

Provisions related to Cognizable Offences:

Cognizable Offense is covered in Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code. If a crime is cognizable, a police officer is required to file an FIR. Before filing the FIR, he can also make some kind of preliminary investigation. A convict in these offences is detained and brought before the magistrate within the allotted period. In cognizable offences, the court’s approval is assumed due to the seriousness of the crime.

Procedures should be adopted in cases of cognizable offences:

  • A Police Officer is required to obtain the First Information Report (FIR) about the cognizable offence in the case of a cognizable offence.
  • The officer-in-charge notifies the relevant judicial magistrate of a reported cognizable offence and designates either himself or a subordinate officer to conduct the inquiry.
  • As soon as the police officer gets the information, the investigation begins. The assigned police officer finds the suspect, detains him, and gathers information about the case’s circumstances.
  • Police are permitted to conduct searches during investigations if they think it is necessary, as long as it relates to a cognizable offence. In addition, he has the authority to force anyone to produce any necessary documentation.
  • A warrant is not necessary for arrest in cases of cognizable offences. It is possible to accomplish this by presenting a significant or harmful accusation that cannot be avoided. The Police must get an arrest warrant for the person in custody within 24 hours of the arrest. The Police have a full 24 hours to look into the crime and question the suspect.
  • When the police detain someone for a cognizable offence and the investigation takes more than 24 hours, they submit a formal application to the magistrate asking him to retain the suspect in custody for an additional length of time. If the magistrate declines, the suspect must be released. Remand requests are only eligible for a maximum of 14 days in police custody.
  • During the procedure of investigation, the statement of witnesses as well as the accused, are recorded.
  • In case of molestation, rape or any such case is serious, within 24 hours, a medical examination is conducted by the police officers.
  • After the investigation is completed, a charge sheet is prepared against the accused and that report is sent to the magistrate for further procedure.
  • The judge does not make a decision, at the stage of inquiry. The judge does not decide the investigation stage. In most cases, witnesses are compelled to appear in court, take an oath, and then testify regarding what they saw and told the police during the investigation.
  • As warrant cases and session cases deal with more serious and heinous actions, they are typically used for cognizable offence trials.
  • After that here comes the judgment, where the decision is taken after considering all the points.
  • And then, punishment is announced to the accused.

In the case Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P. & Ors (2013), the Supreme Court held that a police officer is required by Section 154 of the Cr. P.C to file an FIR if the information reveals a criminal offence.

Non Cognizable Offence:

A “non-cognizable offence” is one for which a police officer lacks the authority to arrest without a warrant, and a “non-cognizable case” is one in which that power is lacking. An offence that is listed in the first schedule of the Indian Penal Code and is bailable is referred to as a non-cognizable offence. The police cannot detain a suspect in a non-cognizable offence without a warrant, nor can they launch an investigation without the judge’s approval. Forgery, fraud, defamation, and public disturbance are examples of non-cognizable crimes.

Procedures followed in cases of Non-Cognizable offences:

  • As previously established, the police lack the authority to record a First Information Report. They are only able to act if the magistrate gives them the go-ahead.
  • A judicial magistrate must be contacted directly with a complaint. The police are compelled to look into the situation and gather more information when they receive a magistrate’s order.
  • The cops must create multiple reports while conducting the inquiry. Further submissions of these reports are made to the magistrate.
  • According to Section 157 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the officer in charge of the police station is required to provide a preliminary report to the judicial magistrate.
  • The junior officer is required to submit a report to the officer in charge of the police station following Section 168 of this Code for an investigation.
  • According to Section 173 of the Code, a final report must be given to the relevant magistrate after the inquiry is complete.
  • A magistrate has the authority to direct the police to issue an arrest warrant based on the results of the investigation reports and any subsequent trials.
  • Police can only issue an arrest warrant and take the defendant into custody once the defendant has been found guilty in court.
  • The convict, however, has the option to request bail and to challenge the magistrate’s ruling in court.

In the case Adesh Kumar Gupta v. CBI, it was decided that the police officer in charge was required to write the information in a book kept for this purpose after receiving the complaint about a non-cognizable offence before referring the informant to the magistrate.

Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences Provisions and Comparative Analysis
Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences Provisions and Comparative Analysis

Comparative Analysis of offences:

Cognizable offence:

  • Cognizable offences are those in which the accused may be detained by the investigating agency without a warrant.
  • In case of a cognizable offence, permission from the court is not required. Investigations can begin as soon as an FIR is filed
  • Serious crimes are recognized offences.

Non-cognizable offence:

  • Non-cognizable offences are those for which an accused person cannot be detained by the investigating authority without an arrest warrant.
  • The investigation is necessary; it can only start if the court issues a directive.
  • Offences that cannot be recognized are less severe.


The steps a police officer must take to investigate both cognizable and non-cognizable offences are outlined in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1974. Understanding the distinctions between the two is crucial for comprehending police authority, investigative procedures, etc. Without the magistrate’s approval, the police can arrest the suspect for a cognizable offence and launch an investigation. In non-cognizable circumstances, however, this is not the case. Therefore, the investigation process is the same in both, with the arrest of the accused serving as the only variation.

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