Statutory definitions

Cognizable offence

cognizable offence  means an offence for which, and “cognizable case” means a case in which, a police officer may, in accordance with the First Schedule or under any other law for the time being in force, arrest without warrant;

The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973


Though the Code defines “Cognizable offence” and “non-Cognizable offence”, the word ‘cognizance’ has not been defined in the Code. But it is now settled law that the Court takes cognizance of the offence and not the offender. As soon as the Magistrate applies his judicial mind to the offence stated in the complaint or the police report etc. cognizance is said to be taken. Cognizance of the offence takes place when the Magistrate takes judicial notice of the offence. Whether the Magistrate has taken cognizance of offence on a complaint or on a police report or upon information of a person other than the police officer, depends upon further (sic) taken pursuant thereto and the attending circumstances of the particular case including the mode in which case is sought to be dealt with or the nature of the action taken by the Magistrate. Under sub-section (1) of Section 190 of the Code; any Magistrate may take cognizance of an offence (a) upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence, (b) upon a police report of such facts, and (c) upon information received from person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such offence has been committed.[Anil Saran Versus State of Bihar and another-AIR 1996 SC 204 ]

It case of  TADA ACT the words, “after taking cognizance” employed in Section 18 of the Act would include any stage of trial including the stage when the judgment is to be delivered. This submission is also misconceived. If it ought to have been the intention of the Legislature they could have said so. The Legislature deliberately uses the words “after taking cognizance of any offence” to mean that Section 18 would be attracted only at the stage where the Designated Court takes cognizance of offence i.e. after the investigation is complete and charge-sheet is filed. The provisions of Section 209, Cr.P.C. to which the counsel for the appellants sought to rely are not in pari materia with Section 18. In Section 209, Cr.P.C. the words “after taking cognizance” are absent conspicuously. Section 18 is a filtered provision. The Section is attracted only at a stage the Designated Court takes cognizance of offence. It is at the stage of taking cognizance, the Designated Court is expected to scan the documents and evidence collected therewith, if the Designated Court is of opinion that the offence is not triable by it, it shall, then notwithstanding that it has no jurisdiction to try such offence, transfer the case for the trial of such offence to any court having jurisdiction under the Code and the Court to which the case is transferred may proceed with the trial of the offence as if it had taken cognizance of the offence. In our view, there is no ambiguity in the language used in Section 18. If the submissions of the counsel for the appellant are accepted, it would amount to reading something into the statute which is not there.

Categories: Statutory definitions