Difference Between Cognizable Offence And Non Cognizable Offence


Crime is a riotous behaviour and forceful nature against both society as well as individuals. The aggressive acts and minor acts are prescribed by established law when the offences and punishments listed in Indian Penal Code whereas the procedures are mentioned in the Criminal Procedure Code. The Procedural law lays down the Procedure of Arrest of an offender, the procedure of Investigation, the procedure of bail provision, the procedure of trial of an offender, filing of FIR, the process of Appeal etc. such procedures are mentioned in the Criminal Procedure Code. While starting an investigation there should be some crime any act which is punishable under the Indian Penal Code and the crime has to be identified bailable or non-bailable offence.

The Criminal Procedure Code does not contain certain guidelines depending on nature and the gravity offence is to determine particular offence whether it is cognizable offence or non-cognizable offence. However, the code contains schedule I which contains all the offences under the Indian Penal Code and list them into what are all cognizable and non-cognizable offences.

In general, cognizable offences are both bailable and non-bailable offence and non-cognizable offences are bailable offence. Cognizable offences reported under sec 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code while non-cognizable offences are reported under sec 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Cognizable Offences are serious offences and lead to maximum punishment can be given according to the nature of the offence. In non-cognizable offences are more trivial and less serious offences than cognizable cases.

This article focuses on the power of police to investigate in cognizable offence and non-cognizable offence, what are all the offences has to be classified in cognizable and non-cognizable offences and the difference between cognizable and non-cognizable offences.

Role of Police to Investigate in Cognizable Offences:

A Cognizable offence is an offence in which a police officer can arrest without warrant and without orders of a magistrate in accordance with a first schedule 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 once the offence is committed. He can also conduct a preliminary inquiry before registering FIR police can make an arrest and produce before a magistrate. In Lalitakumarai v. Government of U.P [1], The Supreme court of India held that the police must compulsorily register the 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 of Police also has power for Medical Examination of the victim of rape. Under Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code Where an investigation is not complete within 24 hours. Police custody is given a maximum of up to 15 days. [2]This is called as Police custody or else the Police custody is beyond 15 days and if the reasonable grounds to be satisfied the detention should not exceed 90 days only the offences relates to the most serious crime punishments like punishable with death, life imprisonment, or 10 years imprisonment and also detention should not exceed 60 days in case of other offences.

Role of Police to Investigate in Non Cognizable Offences:

According to section 2(l), Non Cognizable offence means an offence for which means a case in which, a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant. A police officer cannot arrest the accused without a warrant and cannot start an investigation. The officer in charge of police should take an order under section 155(2)from the magistrate. The crimes are Assault, forgery, cheating, Defamation and public nuisance etc. are comes under non-cognizable offences.

In such offences, the following steps has to satisfied for making arrest such as Filing of Complainant, Investigation, Charge sheet, Charge sheet to be filed in court and trial[3]. The aggrieved party has to 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 the deficient evidence in the form of documents after the trial the court will pass orders regarding the issues of a warrant to arrest the accused.

Major Difference Between Cognizable and Non Cognizable Offences:

  • In Cognizable offence, the police can arrest the accused without a warrant from a magistrate. In Non-Cognizable offence, the police cannot arrest a person without warrant.
  • The police officer has the power to file an FIR without the permission of a magistrate. In Non-Cognizable offence, the police officer is not bound to register FIR without prior permission of a magistrate.
  • In Cognizable case, the aggrieved party might make a complaint to a magistrate or they can file FIR. In the non-cognizable case, the victim can only make a complaint to magistrate[4].
  • In Cognizable case, the police can start a preliminary investigation without the permission of magistrate or without registering FIR. In Non-cognizable case, the police cannot start a preliminary investigation without the permission of the court.
  • The cognizable case is non-bailable in nature while the non-cognizable case is bailable in nature.


The role of the police is pivotal while exercising the power of police should be in honest and genuine and not in arbitrary. If information of 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 the commission of cognizable case. The police officer has to maintain law and order in society. The mere registration of FIR is not enough when the cognizable offence occurs the crime should be investigated in a proper manner. The separate FIR department should establish because of the political influence over the police results into the favour of accused and injustice to aggrieved parties. In non-cognizable offence, the public and voluntary agencies can help the victim in getting FIR lodged. There should be no partial difference between Cognizable and Non-cognizable offence and should be made compulsory registration of all crimes.

[1] 2014 2 SCC 1

[2] https:// www.lawn.com/role-police-power-investigate/



This article is authored by Shantha Roopini. B, Fifth-Year, B.B.A. LL.B (Hons.) student at School of Excellence in Law, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University.

Also Read – Limitation Period of Taking Cognizance of An Offence

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