If you’re someone who’s ever had to deal with the legal system, then chances are you’ve heard the terms “cognizable” and “non-cognizable offences” thrown around.
A cognizable offence refers to a criminal offence for which a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and initiate an investigation based on their own knowledge or a complaint filed by the victim or a witness. While the non-cognizable offence is a criminal offence for which a police officer does not have the power to make an arrest without a warrant and cannot initiate an investigation without a court’s order or a complaint filed by the victim or a witness.
Cognizable vs. Non-Cognizable Offences
|Cognizable Offence||Non-Cognizable Offence|
|Cognizable offences are serious crimes for which a police officer can make an arrest without a warrant.||Non-cognizable offences are relatively less severe crimes where a police officer cannot make an arrest without a warrant.|
|In this, police have the authority to investigate, arrest, and initiate legal proceedings without a warrant for cognizable offences.||In this, police cannot arrest someone without a warrant for a non-cognizable offence unless it is committed in their presence.|
|Cognizable offences are generally more serious in nature and carry stricter penalties under the law.||Non-cognizable offences are relatively less severe and may have comparatively milder penalties.|
|It can be initiated by either a police complaint or a private complaint filed by the victim or affected party.||It requires a private complaint to be filed by the victim or affected party to initiate legal action.|
|Cognizable offences involve a more detailed and extensive investigation by the police to gather evidence and build a case.||Non-cognizable offences may have a relatively simpler investigation process as they are typically less complex in nature.|
|Its legal procedure may involve arrest, bail, and trial based on the nature of the crime and evidence gathered.||Its legal proceedings are initiated through a complaint, and the accused may be summoned to appear in court.|
What is a Cognizable Offence?
A cognizable offence is a type of criminal offence that is considered serious in nature and falls under the jurisdiction of the police. In the case of cognizable offences, the police have the authority to make an arrest without a warrant, conduct investigations, and initiate legal proceedings against the accused without requiring permission from the court.
Examples of cognizable offences include murder, robbery, theft, and kidnapping. The police have the power to take immediate action upon receiving a complaint or when they witness the commission of a cognizable offence.
What is a Non-Cognizable Offence?
A non-cognizable offence is a type of criminal offence that is relatively less serious in nature and falls under the jurisdiction of the court rather than the police. In the case of non-cognizable offences, the police cannot make an arrest without a warrant, and they do not have the authority to initiate investigations or legal proceedings on their own. A complainant or the victim needs to approach the court and file a formal complaint to initiate the legal process.
Examples of non-cognizable offences include defamation, public nuisance, and simple assault. The court decides whether to take action based on the complaint filed by the concerned party.
Types of Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences
- Serious crimes: Offences such as murder, robbery, rape, and kidnapping are considered cognizable offences.
- Immediate police action: Cognizable offences require immediate police action, including the power to make arrests without a warrant.
- Police report: After investigation, the police file a report, known as a First Information Report (FIR), with the court.
- Court’s involvement: The court plays a significant role in the proceedings of cognizable offences, and it takes decisions based on the evidence and testimonies presented.
- Less serious crimes: Non-cognizable offences are relatively less serious in nature, such as defamation, simple assault, or minor theft.
- Court’s involvement: Non-cognizable offences require the complainant or victim to approach the court directly to initiate legal action.
- Complaint by the affected party: The victim or complainant needs to file a formal complaint with the court, providing details of the alleged offence.
- Police’s limited role: The police do not have the authority to make arrests without a warrant for non-cognizable offences, and they cannot initiate investigations on their own.
How are Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences prosecuted?
Cognizable offences are typically more serious offences, such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault. Non-cognizable offences are usually less serious offences, such as theft, trespass, and defamation.
To prosecute a cognizable offence, the police must first register a First Information Report (FIR). The FIR is a document that contains the details of the alleged offence. Once the FIR is registered, the police can begin their investigation.
To prosecute a non-cognizable offence, the victim must first file a private complaint with the magistrate’s court. The magistrate’s court will then decide whether or not to proceed with the case. If the magistrate’s court decides to proceed with the case, it will issue a summons for the accused to appear in court.
Penalties for Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences
Cognizable offences are those offences for which the police can arrest an accused person without a warrant. The punishment for cognizable offences is usually imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or with a fine, or with both.
Non-cognizable offences are less serious offences for which the police cannot arrest an accused person without a warrant. The punishment for non-cognizable offences is usually imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or with a fine, or with both.
Key differences between Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offence
- Police Investigation: Cognizable offences allow the police to initiate an investigation without any external complaint, while non-cognizable offences require a formal complaint from the affected party before the police can take action.
- Severity: Cognizable offences are generally considered more serious in nature and may involve crimes like murder, rape, or robbery. Non-cognizable offences are relatively less serious and may include offenses like defamation or simple assault.
- Police Powers: In cognizable offences, the police have broader powers to arrest, search, and investigate without seeking permission from the court. In non-cognizable offences, the police require court approval for arrest and investigation.
- Difference between Bailable and Non-Bailable Offences
- Difference between State and Federal Prison
- Difference between Deviance and Crime
Cognizable offences are more serious than non-cognisable ones and require immediate police action. Non-cognizable offences can be reported but the police cannot take any direct action without an order from the magistrate court. Knowing these differences can help you protect yourself legally and make sure that justice is served if needed.