Cognizable offences are heinous crimes, whereas non-cognizable offences are not so serious. Cognizable offence 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 FIR or make a complaint to the magistrate. Unlike, in case of non-cognizable offence one can only make a complaint to the magistrate.
Depending on the severity of the crime, cognizable offences are either bailable or non-bailable in nature, whereas non-cognizable offences are bailable offences. The punishment for non-cognizable offences is imprisonment for less than three years or sometimes fine only, whereas cognizable offences attract punishment with imprisonment for three years or more.