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Difference between Cognizable offences and Non cognizable offences




Statute A Cognizable offense is defined under Section 2(c) in The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A non-cognizable offense is defined under Section 2 (l) of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973.
Meaning Cognizable offenses are those in which the police have the power to take cognizance of the crime on their own initiative. In non-cognizable offenses, the police do not have the power to arrest a person for a crime on its own.
Warrant A warrant is not necessary for an arrest in the case of a cognizable offense. A warrant is required to arrest in the case of a non-cognizable offense.
Approval Of Court For Investigation Without the authorization of the court, a preliminary investigation might be initiated. Without the approval of the court, no investigation may be conducted.
Magistrate Involvement Permission from the magistrate is not required for filing the FIR. Permission of a magistrate is required for filing FIR.
Intensity Of The Offence Cognizable offences are the most heinous crimes. Whereas non-cognizable offences are less heinous.
Petition Prerequisites One can submit a FIR or make a complaint to the magistrate for a cognizable offence. In the case of a non-cognizable offence, the sole option is to file a complaint with the magistrate.
Punishment Non-cognizable offenses are punished with imprisonment for less than three years or, in some cases, a fine only. Whereas cognizable offenses are punished with imprisonment for three years or more.
Bailable/ Non bailable Cognizable offenses are either bailable or non-bailable. Whereas non-cognizable offenses are bailable.
Examples Murder and rape are examples of cognizable offences. Forgery and cheating are examples of Non-cognizable offences.

Cognizable offenses Case Laws

  • In Vadlamudi Kutumba Rao [1961 2 Cr. L.J. 605], it was held that for a case to be cognizable, one or more offenses must be cognizable, and there can be no case under the code that is partially non-cognizable.
  • In Seema Devi v. the State of Uttar Pradesh [2018], it was observed that the primary obligation of the police officer in charge of the station is to register the FIR and that if the police officer in charge does not record the FIR, the Magistrate has the authority to issue directions under Section156(3) to register and investigate the case.

Non cognizable offences Case Laws

  • In Kaithiravan v. Commissioner of Police [2011 1 CTC 395], it was ruled that the police officer handling non-cognizable offense allegations must adhere to the provisions of Section 155 of the CrPC.
  • In Adesh Kumar Gupta v. CBI [W.P. (CRL) 725/2015], it was ruled that after receiving a complaint on a non-cognizable offense, the police officer in charge must enter the information in a book kept for that purpose and subsequently send the informant to the Magistrate.


The government is attempting to be stricter about every offense committed for the country's citizens to live freely and without fear. These two phrases are critical to comprehend since the punishment for the offense is determined by whether it is a cognizable or non-cognizable violation. Punishment may differ, but that does not make any of them acceptable. As a result, there should be no ambiguity between the two terms.

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