Cognizance of Offences under Code of Criminal Procedure
Dilpreet Singh 12 Feb 2020

Cognizance of Offences under Code of Criminal Procedure

Cognizance under Code of Criminal Procedure

The Code of Criminal Procedure has not specified what cognizance is. Literally, it means 'to be aware of' but when used in respect to a trial or a magistrate it means 'Judicial notice of an offence' Actually, taking cognizance does not require any formal action by the judge or magistrate, because as long as a magistrate turns his mind to the alleged crime of an offence for the purpose of taking further actions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, such as summoning an accused on the basis of the information available for prosecution or trial, cognizance can be said to have been taken.

In simple terms, cognizance can be interpreted as looking through a narrow keyhole and evaluating whether or not an offence has been committed, and if it has been committed at all, then whether certain parts of the IPC or any other special statute are attracted or not. The underlying principle in law or aim of cognizance is to maintain a 'judicial check' on the police, as a judicial officer by taking cognizance examines whether or not the crimes have actually been committed. Thus, in the Code, the word cognizance is used to denote the points when the Magistrate or Judge first takes legal notice of an offence. It is an infinite term of import, which may not always be used in precisely the same context.


Any First class Magistrate and any Second Class Magistrate can acknowledge any offence. Section 190-199 of the code defines the procedures by which various criminal courts are entitled to take cognizance of offences, and the restrictions under which they are entitled.

(a)   Section 190 of CrPC "Cognizance of offences by Magistrates"

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, any Magistrate of the first class, and any Magistrate of the second class specially empowered in this behalf under subsection (2), may take cognizance of any offence-

(a) upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence;

(b) upon a police report of such facts;

(c) upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such offence has been committed.

(2) The Chief Judicial Magistrate may empower any Magistrate of the second class to take cognizance under subsection (1) of such offences as are within his competence to inquire into or try.

(b)   Section 191 of CrPC "Transfer on application of the accused"

When a Magistrate takes cognizance of an offence under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 190, the accused shall, before any evidence is taken, be informed that he is entitled to have the case inquired into or tried by another Magistrate, and if the accused or any of the accused, if there be more than one, objects to further proceedings before the Magistrate taking cognizance, the case shall be transferred to such other Magistrate as may be specified by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in this behalf.

(c)   Section 192 of CrPC "Making over of cases to Magistrates"

(1) Any Chief Judicial Magistrate may, after taking cognizance of an offence, makeover the case for enquiry or trial to any competent Magistrate subordinate to him.
(2) Any Magistrate of the first class empowered in this behalf by the Chief Judicial Magistrate may, after taking cognizance of an offence, makeover the case for enquiry or trial to such other competent Magistrate as the Chief Judicial Magistrate may, by general or special order, specify, and thereupon such Magistrate may hold the inquiry or trial.

Tula Ram & Ors vs Kishore Singh: 1977 AIR 2401, 1978 SCR (1) 615

Taking cognizance does not require any formal procedure, or indeed intervention of any kind, but happens as soon as a judge, as such turns his mind to the suspected crime of an offence for the purpose of continuing to take further steps towards damage or trial. Furthermore, when a Magistrate applies his mind not for the purpose of proceeding as mentioned above but for taking action of some other kind, such as directing an investigation or issuing a search warrant for the purpose of investigation, he cannot be said to have taken cognizance of the offence.


If any magistrate were not allowed to recognize an offence under Section 190(1)(a) and 190(1)(b), if an offence is wrongly accepted in good faith, the proceedings shall not be set aside solely on the ground that it is not permitted to do so. On the other hand, if a magistrate who is not empowered to take cognizance of an offence takes cognizance by information received or his own knowledge pursuant to section 190(1)(c), his proceedings shall be null and void. In such a case it is immaterial whether he was acting erroneously in good faith or otherwise.


According to Section 193, "Courts of Session are not permitted to take note of any crime (as a court of original jurisdiction) unless the case is committed by a Magistrate." If it is specifically established by this code or by any other statute, then only Courts of Session are permitted.


Sections 195-199 are exceptions to the general rule that, even though he is not personally interested or impaired by the crime, any person with knowledge of the conduct of an offence that sets the law in motion by a complaint. The general rule is that any person with knowledge of an offence commission may put the law into motion through a complaint even though he is not personally interested in or affected by the offence. Sections 195 to 199 of the CrPC provide exceptions to this general rule because they prohibit cognizance of the offences referred to therein except where a complaint is lodged by the Court or the relevant public servant. The provisions of these sections are obligatory and a Court has no authority to recognize any of the offences listed therein unless there is a written complaint as provided by the section in question.

Prosecutions for contempt of the lawful authority of public servants

According to section 195(1)(a), "Court shall not take cognizance of those cases which are punishable under section 172 to section 188 of the Indian Penal Code unless a public servant makes a written complaint." Section 172 to 188 of the IPC deals with offences related to public servant contempt. In case of an attempt, conspiracy abetment of offence set out in IPC section 172 to 188, the court will not take cognizance.

According to Section 195(2), ' ' Court will not proceed further with the trial when a superior official of a public servant (who has complained) gives the order of withdrawal. '' Provided that no such withdrawal is ordered after a trial has been completed in court.

Prosecution for offences against public justice

According to Section 195(1)(b)(i),'' Court shall not take cognizance of offensive cases pursuant to Sections 193 to 196, 199, 200, 205 to 211 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code unless a formal complaint is filed by that court or by some other court to which that court is subordinate.' In the event of an attempt, conspiracy, abetment of offences against public justice, the court will not take cognizance.

Prosecution for offences relating to documents given in evidence

According to Section 195(1)(b)(ii),'' Court shall not accept those cases which are offensive according to Section 463 or punishable according to Section 471, 475 or 476 of the IPC unless a formal complaint is lodged by that court or by any other court to which it is subordinate.' In case of an attempt, conspiracy, abetment of offences relating to documents provided in evidence, the court will not take cognizance.

The definition of' court' in Section 195(1)(b) is addressed in paragraph 195(3). Court' means a Civil, Revenue or Criminal Court, which involves, for the purposes of this section, a tribunal created by or under a Central Provincial or State Act where that Act has been declared a Tribunal.

Section 195(4) deals with the definition in Section 195(1)(b) of the superior court and subordinate court. If Court ' A' has the authority to appeal the decision granted by Court' B' we will then presume Court' B' is subordinate to Court' A.'

Prosecution for offences against the state

According to Section 196(1), ‘‘Court will not take cognizance to those cases which punishable under Chapter VI (Of Offences against the State) or under Section 153A, Section 153B, Section 295A or Section 505 of Indian Penal Code except with the consent of the Central Government or of the State Government.”

The listed IPC sections deal with state offences. Chapter VI of IPC describes the state offence. Section 153A of the IPC deals with harmony 295A deals with the offence of comments leading to violations of religious belief. Section 505 deals with an offence related to public mischief.

Prosecution for the offence of criminal conspiracy

According to Section 196(2), “Court will not take cognizance to offences of any criminal conspiracy under Section 120B of Indian Penal Code (other than a criminal conspiracy to commit a cognizable offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for two a term of two years or upwards) unless consent in writing is given by the State Government or the District Magistrate to initiation of the proceedings.”


In the Code of Criminal Procedure, the term 'Cognizance' is not specified. This basically means adding the judicial mind to a suspected crime commission CrPC Chapter XIV deals with' Conditions Required to begin proceedings' and CrPC Chapter XV deals with 'Complaints to Magistrates'.

Did you find this write up useful? YES 23 NO 12
Arjun   24 Sep 2020 3:17pm
Who conducts prosecution when magistrate takes cognizance under sec 190(1) (c)
Sarjeet singh   21 Apr 2020 1:28pm
Accurate information

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