Offence implies an illegal act or a crime. In finer terms, offence entails any act, which is punishable in nature and against which a complaint is registered, with the appropriate authority, i.e. police or magistrate. The offence can be classified as a cognizable offence and non-cognizable offence, wherein the cognizable offence means the one in which the police can arrest the accused without a warrant.
On the other hand, the non-cognizable offence can be described as the offence in which the police cannot arrest any person without warrant and express permission of the court is also required for investigation. When it comes to crimes, one should know about the differences between cognizable and non-cognizable offence, to understand the law in a better way.
Content: Cognizable Offence Vs Non-Cognizable Offence
|Basis for Comparison||Cognizable Offence||Non-Cognizable Offence|
|Meaning||Cognizable offence is one in which the police is authorized to take cognizance of the crime at its own.||Non-cognizable offences refers to the offences in which the police has no authority to apprehend a person for crime on its own.|
|Arrest||Without warrant||Requires warrant|
|Approval of Court||Not required to begin investigation.||Prior approval of court is required to begin investigation.|
|Offence||Heinous||Comparatively less heinous|
|Includes||Murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, etc.||Forgery, cheating, assault, defamation etc.|
|Petition||FIR and complaint||Complaint only.|
Definition of Cognizable Offence
The offence in which the police officer does not require any warrant to arrest the accused and has the authority to begin an investigation without any permission of the court is known as a cognizable offence. In such kind of offences, once the accused is arrested, he/she will be produced before the magistrate, in the stipulated time. As the crime is serious in nature, court’s approval is implicit, in cognizable offences.
The first information report, commonly termed as FIR is lodged only in case of cognizable crimes. Cognizable Offences are severe crimes which include murder, rape, rioting, theft, dowry death, kidnapping, criminal breach of trust and other heinous offences.
Definition of Non-Cognizable Offence
Non-cognizable offences are the offences listed under the first schedule of the Indian Penal Code and are bailable in nature. When an offence is non-cognizable, the police has no right to arrest the accused without a warrant, as well as they are not entitled to start an investigation without prior approval of the court. It includes crimes like forgery, assault, cheating, defamation, public nuisance, hurt, mischief etc.
In non-cognizable offence judicial process initiates by lodging a criminal complaint with the metropolitan magistrate, who then orders the concerned police station to investigate the crime accordingly, after which a charge sheet is filed with the court, which is followed by the trial. After the trial, the court will pass orders regarding the issue of a warrant to arrest the accused.
Key Differences Between Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offence
The following points are relevant with respect to the difference between cognizable and non-cognizable offence:
- The offence in which the cognizance of the crime is taken by the police on its own, as it does not need to wait for court’s approval, is known as a cognizable offence. On the other hand, non-cognizable offence, as the name suggests, is the offence in which the police has no authority to apprehend a person for crime on its own, as explicit permission of the court is required.
- In cognizable offence, the police can arrest a person without any warrant. As against this, a warrant is must in the case of non-cognizable offence.
- In cognizable offence, court’s order is not required to start an investigation. Conversely, in the non-cognizable offence, first of all, court’s order should be obtained for undertaking an investigation.
- 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.