Cognizable Offence and Non Cognizable Offence Difference [Explained]

cognizable and non cognizable offences

So you are confused in the terms Cognizable and Non Cognizable, right? Don’t worry, we will first look at what these two terms are and where they are given in CrPC, then we’ll look at major differences between Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences. Sit back, relax, and read:

Cognizable Offence:

Cognizable offences are offences for which a police officer may according to Schedule I of the Criminal Procedure Code or under any other law for a temporary period till that law is in force, can arrest with no warrant. It means there is an urgency to arrest the person. It is given under Section 2(c) of CrPC.

Non Cognizable Offence:

Non-Cognizable offences are offences for which a police officer has no such authority to arrest without a warrant. It is given under Section 2(l) of CrPC.

It means Non-Cognizable offences are less serious in nature and there is no such urgency to arrest a person without a warrant.

Let’s make it easier for you to understand the Basic Differences between Cognizable & Non-Cognizable Offences by categorizing into Table:

COGNIZABLE OFFENCESNON COGNIZABLE OFFENCES
1.All serious offences are cognizable.Non-Cognizable offences are of a less serious nature.
2.Offences punishable with imprisonment for 3 years or more.
Example – Waging war, murder, theft, extortion, etc.
Offences punishable with imprisonment for less than 3 years or with a fine.
Example – Absconding to avoid service of summoning, giving false information to a public servant, etc.
3.Police officer may arrest without warrant.A police officer has no authority to arrest without a warrant.
4.Police officer can investigate without order from a magistrate.A police officer can’t investigate without order or direction from a magistrate.
5.These are public Wwongs, prosecution of an offender is left to the initiative and efforts of the State.These are private wrongs, prosecution of an offender is left to the initiative and efforts of private citizens.
Table 1: Cognizable offence and Non Cognizable offence differences

Let’s make it even easier for you to remember the key points of Differences between Cognizable & Non-Cognizable Offences:

Basis of DifferenceCOGNIZABLE OFFENCENON COGNIZABLE OFFENCE
1.NatureSeriousLess serious
2.Punishment QuantumMoreLess
3.ArrestWithout warrantWarrant Compulsory
4.Duty of Police OfficerPolice officer have to investigate even without any order from magistratePolice officer can only investigate after an order form magistrate
5.Nature of WrongPublic Wrong + Prosecution at discretion of State.Private Wrong + Prosecution at initiative of parties.
Table 2: Short Points of Difference between Cognizable and Non Cognizable Offences

I hope you understood the crux of the Cognizable Offences and Non-Cognizable Offences and can now explain the key differences between cognizable and non-cognizable offences.

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Om Ram

Om Ram

Om Ram is currently a 1st-year LL.B. student at Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. Previously he did Life Sciences from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. He shows his life journey by making Legal Vlogs on a YouTube channel named 'Om Ram'. He has interests in Law, Science & Film making. Some of his notable work related to photography and other interests can be seen on his Instagram. He also has a channel named 'Law Planet' where he along with his sister makes videos to make people aware of laws and their rights.
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