A cognizable offence is an offence for which the police can arrest the accused without a warrant. This is in contrast to a non-cognizable offence, for which the police can only arrest the accused with a warrant issued by a magistrate.
Section 2(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) defines a cognizable offence as follows:
“Cognizable offence” means an offence for which, and “cognizable case” means a case in which, a police officer may, in accordance with the provisions of this Code, arrest without warrant.
The list of cognizable offences is given in the First Schedule of the CrPC. Some of the common cognizable offences include:
The police can also arrest a person for an offence that is not listed in the First Schedule, if they have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed the offence.
The main difference between cognizable and non-cognizable offences is the power of arrest. The police have the power to arrest without a warrant for cognizable offences, but they need a warrant for non-cognizable offences. This difference in power of arrest is important, as it can have a significant impact on the investigation of a crime.
For example, if the police suspect that a person has committed a cognizable offence, they can arrest the person immediately and start the investigation. However, if the police suspect that a person has committed a non-cognizable offence, they need to first obtain a warrant from a magistrate before they can arrest the person. This can delay the investigation, as the police may have to wait for the magistrate to issue the warrant.
In addition to the power of arrest, there are other procedural differences between cognizable and non-cognizable offences. For example, the police need to send a report to the magistrate within 24 hours of arresting a person for a cognizable offence, but they do not need to do so for a non-cognizable offence.
The distinction between cognizable and non-cognizable offences is an important one in the Indian criminal justice system. It has a significant impact on the way that crimes are investigated and prosecuted.