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Sanjeev Panda (Advocate)     06 April 2010

Cognizance of offences

When the magistrate is said to take cognizance of offences? What is the meaning of the term "Cognizance" as used under Code of Criminal Procedure?


 9 Replies

Swami Sadashiva Brahmendra Sar (Nil)     06 April 2010

When he applies his mind and makes an order for registration of case.

sreenath cochin (advocate)     06 April 2010

sec 190 to 199 describe methods by which and the limitations subject to which various criminal courts are entitled to take cognizance of offences.Section 190(1) says that subject to the provisions of secs 195 to 199,any magistrate of first class and any magistrate of second class specially empowered in this behalf,may take cognizance of any offence

(a) upon recieving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence

(b) upon a police report of such facts

(c) upon information recieved from any person other than a police officer , or upon his own  knowledge,that such an offence has been committed

sreenath cochin (advocate)     06 April 2010

if any magistrate not empowered to take cognizance of an offence under clauses (a)and (b) of  sec 190(1),does erroneously in good faith take cognizance of an offence under any such clause,his proceedings shall not be set aside merely on the ground that he is not empowered to do so.if a magistrate takes cognizance of an offence and proceed with trial though he is not empowered in that behalf and convicts the accused ,the accused cannot avail himself of the defect and cannot demand that his conviction be set aside merely on the ground of such irregularty,unless there is something on the record to show that the magistrate has assumed power not erroneously and in good faith,but purposely having knowledge that he did not have such power

Sanjeev Panda (Advocate)     07 April 2010

 The word "cognizance" has not been defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure, though several provisions in Chapter XIV of the Code of Criminal Procedure use the word "cognizance". The very first Section in the said Chapter, viz., Section 190 lays down how cognizance of offences will be taken by a Magistrate.. The dictionary meaning of the word "cognizance" is - 'judicial hearing of a matter'. The meaning of the word has been explained by judicial pronouncements and it has acquired a definite connotation. The earliest decision of the Apex Court on the point is R.R. Chari v. State of U.P. AIR 1951 SC 207, wherein it was held :-

"Taking cognizance does not involve any formal action or indeed action of any kind but occurs as soon as a Magistrate as such applies his mind to the suspected commission of an offence."  In Darshan Singh Ram Kishan v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1971 SC 2372, while considering Section 190 of the Code of 1908, it was observed that "taking cognizance does not involve any formal action or indeed action of any kind but occurs as soon as a Magistrate as such applies his mind to the suspected commission of an offence. Cognizance, therefore, takes place at a point when a magistrate first takes judicial notice of an offence. This is the position whether the magistrate takes cognizance of an offence on a complaint, or on a police report, or upon information of a person other than a police officer." In Narayandas Bhagwandas Madhavdas v. The State of West Bengal AIR 1959 SC 1118 it was held that before it can be said that any Magistrate has taken cognizance of any offence under Section 190(1)(a) Criminal Procedure Code, he must not only have applied his mind to the contents of the petition but must have done so for the purpose of proceeding in a particular way as indicated in the subsequent provisions of the Chapter proceeding under Section 200 and thereafter sending it for inquiry and report under Section 202. It was observed that there is no special charm or any magical formula in the expression "taking cognizance" which merely means judicial application of the mind of the Magistrate to the facts mentioned in the complaint with a view to taking further action. It was also observed that what Section 190 contemplates is that the Magistrate takes cognizance once he makes himself fully conscious and aware of the allegations made in the complaint and decides to examine or test the validity of the said allegations. The Court then referred to the three situations enumerated in sub-section (1) of Section 190 upon which a Magistrate could take cognizance. Similar view was expressed in Kishun Singh & Ors. v. State of Bihar (1993) 2 SCC 16 that when the Magistrate takes notice of the accusations and applies his mind to the allegations made in the complaint or police report or information and on being satisfied that the allegations, if proved, would constitute an offence, decides to initiate judicial proceedings against the alleged offender, he is said to have taken cognizance of the offence. In State of West Bengal v. Mohd. Khalid & Ors. (1995) 1 SCC 684 the Apex Court after taking note of the fact that the expression had not been defined in the Code held:-


"......... In its broad and literal sense, it means taking notice of an offence. This would include the intention of initiating judicial proceedings against the offender in respect of that offence and taking steps to see whether there is any basis for initiating judicial proceedings or for other purposes. The word 'cognizance' indicates the point when a Magistrate or a Judge first takes judicial notice of an offence. It is entirely a different thing from initiation of proceedings; rather it is the condition precedent to the initiation of proceedings by the Magistrate or the Judge. Cognizance is taken of cases and not of persons."


However, it should be noted that taking cognizance of an offence is not the same thing as issuance of process. Cognizance is taken at the initial stage when the Magistrate applies his judicial mind to the facts mentioned in a complaint or to police report or upon information received from any other person that an offence has been committed. The issuance of process is at a subsequent stage when after considering the material placed before it the Court decides to proceed against the offenders against whom a prima facie case is made out.


Swami Sadashiva Brahmendra Sar (Nil)     07 April 2010

Thank you Mr Panda  for giving analytical information. So, this was a quiz or test query and not your  actual problem !!!

Sanjeev Panda (Advocate)     07 April 2010

Respected Tripathi Sir, It was neither quiz or test query nor my actual problem. If there would have been any legal query, I would have posted it on queries section and not in forum. The purpose of forum is to discuss on any legal issue and purpose is participation by legal experts and their expert legal opinion which guides & enlightens the newcomers like us. Sir, I respect your legal acumen and wisdom and the only purpose was to invite participation by the legal lumanaries like you and learn something from your wisdom, experience. The participation by the legal experts add something new to the topic and it is always going to be helpful for the newcomers like us. I hope that you would be kind enough to participate in the forum discussions and enlighten us with your knowledge and wisdom which will guide us in the competitive legal profession. Thanks & regards Sanjeev

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     08 April 2010

The meaning of Cognizance and the details procedures of cognizance has been discussed in details by the Supreme Court in the Classic Judgment as reported in the case of Randhir Singh Rana vs State (Delhi administration ) 1997- (001)-SUPREME-0278-SC.

premjibhai (ex-judge & advocate)     05 April 2011

magistrates taked cognizance of the offence under section 190 of the criminal  procedure code.magistrate takes the cognizance of the offnce and not of the offender. Please refer judgment of honourable supreme court with this regard- AIR 2001 SC. PAGE 2747.

Shruti Jhanwar   30 December 2015

Does cognizance mean the same thing as determining whether there is a prima facie case or not?

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