Cognizable Offence - Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC)

In cognizable offences, the police suo motu takes cognizance of crime and does not need approval of the court. On the other hand, in non-cognizable, the police have no authority to arrest a person for a crime on its own, without prior approval of court. Learn more about the details and differences between these two types of offences.

Fri Apr 29 2022 | Employment, Criminal and Labour | Comments (0)


The offence in which the police suo motu takes cognizance of a crime and does not need approval of court is known as a cognizable offence. While, in non-cognizable, the police has  no authority to arrest a person for a crime on its own, without prior approval of court. Through this article, the difference between the two offences has been highlighted and so is the role of police when a cognizable or non-cognizable offence is committed.

The object of Criminal Procedure Code is to provide a machinery for the punishment of offenders against the substantive Criminal law.

In  layman terms, the Criminal Procedure Code lays (CrPC) lays down the rules for conduct of proceedings against any person who has committed an offence under any Criminal law, whether it is IPC (Indian Penal Code) or other Criminal law legislations.


All offences are covered by Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and separately  are mentioned in Indian Penal Code. For example: Murder, Theft, Kidnapping, Rape, Forgery, etc.

The legal meaning and the constitution of  a criminal offence  is provided in the I.P.C. The Procedure of initiating proceeding/Prosecution for a criminal offence is provided in Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). CrPC provides the manner and place, where investigation inquiry and trial of an offence shall take place.


Depending on the nature and gravity of  the offence, they can be classified under any of the following heads:

  • Bailable and non-bailable offence
  • Cognizable and non-cognizable offence.
  • Compoundable and non-compoundable offence

Difference between Cognizable and non-cognizable offence

The offence in which the police suo motu takes cognizance of crime and does not need approval of a court is known as a cognizable offence. While, in non-cognizable, the police has  no authority to arrest a person for an offence  on its own, without prior approval of court.

In cognizable, the police can arrest a person without any warrant. While, in case of non-cognizable offence, a warrant must be needed for the arrest of the person.

In cognizable, court order is not required to start an investigation. Conversely, in the non-cognizable offence, first of all, court order should be obtained for undertaking an investigation.

Cognizable are heinous crimes, whereas non-cognizable offences are not so serious.

Cognizable encompasses murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, counterfeiting, etc. On the contrary, non-cognizable offences include offences like forgery, cheating, assault, defamation and so forth.

For a cognizable offence, one can file an FIR or make a complaint to the magistrate. In  the case of non-cognizable offence,  one can only make a complaint to the magistrate.

Role of Police to Investigate in Cognizable Offences:

A Cognizable offence is an offence in which a police officer can arrest without a warrant and without orders of a magistrate in accordance with the  first schedule of the CrPC or any other law time being in force. The Cognizable offences are serious in nature such as Rape, Murder, Dowry death, Kidnapping, Theft, Criminal Breach of Trust, Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the government in India.

In these types of offences, a police officer can arrest immediately after  the offence is committed. He can also conduct a preliminary inquiry before registering an FIR and the police can make an arrest and produce the accused before a magistrate. In Lalitakumaraim v Government of U.P, The Supreme court of India held that the police must compulsorily register an  FIR on receiving a complainant, if the information discloses a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such situation. According to Section 156(3) Criminal Procedure Code, any magistrate empowered under section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code can order a police officer in charge of a police station to investigate cases.

The Officer in charge  also has power for a Medical Examination of a rape victim .. Police is given  for a maximum period of 15 days.  On the other hand, judicial custordy can be extended to a maximum of 90 days.

Role of Police to Investigate in Non-Cognizable Offences:

According to section 2(l), non-Cognizable offence means an offence for which a police officer has no authority to arrest without a warrant. A police officer cannot arrest the accused without a warrant and cannot start an investigation. The officer in charge  should take an order under section 155(2) from the magistrate. The crimes are Assault, forgery, cheating, Defamation, and public nuisance etc. fall  under non-cognizable offences. In such offences, the following steps must be satisfied for making arrest such as: Filing of the complaint, Investigation, Charge sheet etc The aggrieved party must lodge the complaint in the concerned police station to initiate an investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the police officer is supposed to file the charge sheet in the court. The police officer has to collect  deficient evidence in the form of documents and after  trial, the court will pass orders regarding the issues of a warrant to arrest the accused.


The role of the police is pivotal. while exercising  of its powers, the police should be  honest and genuine and not  arbitrary. If information of a cognizable offence is received by the police officer immediately, he should file an FIR without any delay because the state has a duty to take cognizance about the commission of a cognizable offence . The police officer must maintain law and order in society. The mere registration of an FIR is not enough when the cognizable offence occurs, the crime should be investigated in a proper manner. A  separate FIR department should be established  because of the political influence  over police resulting in injustice to aggrieved parties and victims. In non-cognizable offence, the public and voluntary agencies can help the victim in  lodging an FIR.

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