Written By: Manishek Kumar Singh


According to Section 40 of Indian Penal Code 1860 offence” denotes anything made punishable by the Indian Penal Code 1860. Basically, offence means anything which is done by a legal person against the law or statute and moreover also made punishable by Penal laws is considered as an offence. For the easement of the Public Authorities while dealing with the misdemeanour the makers of the assize classified the misdemeanour in some pigeonhole structures according to which offences are as follows:

  1. Cognizable Offences
  2. Non-Cognizable Offences
  3. Bailable Offences
  4. Non-Bailable offences
  5. Compoundable Offences
  6. Non-Compoundable Offences   

As per the Section 2 clause (c) of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 Cognizable offences 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. According to Clause (2) of the First Schedule of CrPc (ii) “Cognizable” stands for a “police officer may arrest without a warrant”. Fundamentally a cognizable offence means offences which are serious in nature. As per the Indian Penal Code 1860, some of the cognizable offences are

  1. Waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting the waging of war against the government of India,
  2. Murder,
  3. Rape,
  4. Dowry Death,
  5. Kidnapping,
  6. Theft,
  7. Criminal Breach of Trust,
  8. Unnatural Offences,

Whenever there is a case of cognizable offence the public authorities or the police officers are ordered to take cognizance. Any officer-in-charge of a police station, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have the power to inquire into or try under the provisions of CrPc 1973. Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides that under a Cognizable offence the Police Officer has to receive the First Information Report (FIR) relating to the cognizable offences.


i) Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of U.P {AIR 2013 SCC}

Apex court of India Held that the Police Officer must compulsorily register the FIR on receiving a complaint if the information discloses a cognizable offence, and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such situation.

ii) Smt. Gurmito vs. the State of Punjab and Ors {1996 CriLj 1254 P&H}

            The Police cannot refuse to register the case on the ground that it is either not reliable or credible.

iii) State of Andhra Pradesh vs. Punati Ramula and Others, {AIR 1993 SC 2644}

refusal to record FIR on the ground that the place of Crime Does not fall within the territorial jurisdiction of Police station, amount to dereliction of Duty. Information about the cognizable offence would have to be recorded and forwarded to the police station having Jurisdiction.


A non-cognizable offence has been defined in section 2 (l) of Criminal Procedure Code 1973. Non- Cognizable offences mean an offence for which, non- cognizable case means a case in which, a police officer without any warrant has no authority to arrest. Basically, these offences are not of such serious nature as the above one for example:

  1. Assault,
  2. Cheating,
  3. Forgery,

      Section 155 of CrPc 1973 provides that in a Non-cognizable offence or case the police officer cannot receive or record the FIR unless he obtains prior permission from the magistrate. There is certainly an offence for arrest in such cases has been defined previously which must be followed: Filling of complaint, Investigation, Charge Sheet, Charge Sheet to be filed in Court, Trial, the Final order of Arrest if cases have been made out.


  1. Kunhumuhammed vs. the State of Kerala

The court held that the report of a Police Officer following an investigation contrary to Sec 155(2)(3) could be treated as a complaint under section 2(d) and section 190(1)(a). It is necessary that at the commencement of the investigation the police officer is led to believe that the case involved the commission of a cognizable offence or has a doubt about the same and investigation establishes only commission of non-cognizable offences.


Section 2(a) of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 defines Bailable offence means an offence which is shown as bailable in the first schedule, or which is made bailable by any other law for the time being in force. In case of Bailable offences, the grant of bail is at the discretion of the police officer or the court whoever having jurisdiction on the matter. In bailable offences, the accused is released on the basis of bail bond, with or without furnishing sureties. Basically bail bond consists of some condition regarding bail which the public authority or the court may think to be justified on behalf of bail. The court is empowered to refuse bail to an accused person even if the offence is bailable, where the person granted bail fails to comply with the conditions of the bail bond.

Some of the bailable offences are a member of the Unlawful assembly, Rioting, servant disobeying a direction of the law with intent to cause injury, simple hurt, Bribery, Public Nuisance etc.

As per Section 50 of CrPC whenever a person is arrested without warrant, it is the duty of the police officer to communicate the full detail of the offence for which the person is arrested, also if the offence for which the person is arrested is bailable one, it is the duty of the police to inform that he is entitled to be released on bail after giving the security.

Section 436 of CrPC, whenever a person accused of a bailable offence is arrested without the warrant and is prepared to give bail, such person shall be released on bail. The person seeking for bail must have to fill form number 45 for bail as prescribed under schedule first.


  1. Rasik Lal vs, Kishore {AIR SCC 2009}

It was held that in case of bailable offence it is the right of the person arrested to claim for bail and the right is absolute and indefeasible and if the person accused is prepared, the court of the police as the case may be will be bound to release him on bail.


As per Section 2(a) of CrPC, non-bailable offences include all those offences which are not included in bailable offences in the first schedule. A person accused of non-bailable offence doesn’t have right to be released he can only apply for it remains at the discretion of the court to whether grant the bail or not. Section 437 of CrPC states that if a person is arrested on an accusation of the commission of the Non-bailable offence, then the person will not be released on bail if there appears a reasonable ground that the person is guilty of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life. Only when the accused is a woman, below the age of 16 years, sick and Infirm then the only court can grant bail for it.

Under section 438 of CrPC of 1973 a person can apply for anticipatory bail in case of non-bailable offence but in that case, to the discretion lies with the court.

Offences which are Cognizable in nature mostly come under the non-bailable offence.


  1. Sanjay Chandra vs. CBI (AIR 2012 SCC)

In the case, it was held that the Seriousness of the charge not the only relevant factor while considering bail application both the seriousness of the charge and the severity of the punishment should be taken into consideration while granting bail.


A compoundable offence means offences which can be settled or adjusted by agreement, the person against whom the offence has been committed having received some consideration or gratification not to prosecute the accused. Section 320 of CrPC provides a list of offences punishable under different sections of the Indian Penal Code which may be compounded by the person. In cases where the question involved is purely personal in nature the court always suggests for the compromise between the parties through compoundable method.


  1. Manoj & Another vs. State of Madhya Pradesh

The accused was convicted of causing hurt to the complainant by dangerous weapons. Both the parties are residents of the same village with the intervention of the village panchayat, they had come to the compoundable method for dispute resolution and settled down and the court also allowed them under CrPC section 324.


Offences other than those mentioned in Section 320 of the code of Criminal procedure 1973 are not compoundable. Generally, cases which are against the public policy or against the state are not assumed as compoundable in nature. High Courts in the exercise of its inherent powers cannot permit compounding of non-compoundable offences, only in special cases Supreme Court Can do so.

Edited By: Rachit Mehrotra

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