One might have come across a situation when he/she went to the police station for filing a complaint against a person who caused an offence and asked the police officer for taking an action in that regard. But the police denied saying that they could not do anything and told to go to the court for seeking enquiry. A person who is not informed about the laws of our country must surely have accused the police officials for their inaction saying them biased, corrupt and many such accusations. The legal system of our country, specially the Indian Penal Code, 1860 has been designed in such a manner that certain category of offences are considered to be more serious and others to be less serious.
Another situation can be that sometimes a person obtains bail very easily, but sometimes a lot of difficulty is faced for obtaining bail and some cases are also there where bail is not granted at all. Looking to another fact. In some cases, the court does not allow the parties to compromise, i.e. to drop the charges against the accused. All these cases are depending on the seriousness of the offences committed by the person. There are 576 offences mentioned in the IPC. Some offences are of more serious nature and some of less serious nature. Hence, these offences are divided into some categories on the basis of their seriousness. Offences like Murder, Sedition, Robbery etc. which are of more serious and grave nature are categorized as Cognizable, Non- Bailable and Non- Compoundable offences. While less serious offences such as adultery and defamation, are categorized as non- Cognizable, bailable and compoundable offences.
WHAT IS AN OFFENCE ?
According to section 40 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 –
“Offence denotes a thing made punishable by this code.”
Section 2(n) of the criminal Procedure code, 1973 defines offence as –
“Any act or Omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force and includes any act in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 20 of the Cattle- Trespass Act, 1871.”
OFFENCES IN CrPC
There are 484 sections in the criminal procedure code, 1973 mentioning the procedures to be followed for the prosecution, trial and punishment of the offender for criminal offences. These sections are followed by two schedules.
Schedule 1 of CrPC contains a table that categorizes the offences provided in IPC and other codes into Cognizable and Bailable or Non- Bailable offences. Section 320 of CrPC also contains a table categorizing the offences as Compoundable and Non- Compoundable.
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCES
Depending on the nature and gravity of the offences, they can be classified under any of the following aspects -
• Cognizable and Non- Cognizable offence
• Bailable and Non- Bailable offence
• Compoundable and Non- Compoundable offence
COGNIZABLE AND NON-COGNIZABLE OFFENCES
According to section 2(c) of CrPC –
“A Cognizable offence is an offence in which a police officer can arrest without warrant in accordance with first schedule or any other lane time being in force."
Warrant means ‘Permission by the Magistrate to the police.’ The offences in which the police suo motu takes the Cognizance of offence without any approval of the court come under cognizable offences. Murder, Rape, Dowry death, Kidnapping, etc. such offences of heinous and grave nature, if committed the police officials can arrest the offender without any warrant. When any offence of more serious and grave nature is committed, a person can go to the police station for filing an F.I.R. (First information report) and the police officer can arrest the offender upon getting FIR without waiting for any permission of the court. The police officials can initiate the investigation f the offence committed without the permission of court. Offences covered under this aspect are of grave nature and if time is sought for permission of court, then there are possibilities of escaping away of the offender. Hence, to avoid such situations, police officials are given the authority to arrest the offender and investigate the case without seeking for permission of the court.
According to section 2(l) of CrPC –
“A Non- Cognizable offence means an offence for which means a case in which, a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant.”
The offences in which the police cannot take suo motu Cognizance of the offence and requires the prior approval of the magistrate for arresting the offender, such offences are known as Non- Cognizable offences. Offences like assault, hurt, defamation, forgery, cheating, etc. are treated as of less serious nature and hence, covered under Non- Cognizable offences. In such offences, the police officials have no authority to arrest any person without the warrant issued by the court.FIR cannot be filed if any offence of less serious nature is committed .One can go to the police station for filing complaint against the non-cognizable offences and the police officer will record your complaint in an NCR (Non – Cognizable Register ). Hence, only the complaint is filed , no FIR is registered for such offences . The police officials cannot even initiate the investigation of the case without the permission of the court. Only after obtaining the permission of court for arresting of the person and initiate of the proceedings, the police officials can take actions in these regards.
Hence, less serious offences requiring the issue of warrant offender and initiating proceedings are non – cognizable offences. While when police officials do not require any w3arrant to arrest the person and initiate the proceedings, such are cognizable offences having heinous or grave nature.
BAILABLE AND NON-BAILABLE OFFENCES
According to section 2(a) of CrPC–
“Bailable offence means an offence which is shown as bailable in the first schedule, or which is made liable by any other law for the time being in force.”
In the offences of less serious nature, the bail is available to the person as a Matter of Right. Hence, in offences such as adultery, defamation, bribery, etc., the person can obtain the bail easily. The person can plead for bail with a right. The provisions for granting bail in bailable offences is provided under section 436 of Cr.p.c.
Section 2(a) of CrPC defines the non- bailable offence as –
“Any offence other than the bailable offence”
Bail can be granted not only for the bailable offences, but also for the non – bailable offences. The difference is taat in non – bailable offences, granting of bail is the Matter of Discretion. The person cannot plead for the bail with a right which is possible in case of bailable offences. It is up to the discretion of the court to grant bail in more serious or grave offences such as murder, kidnapping, rape, etc The provisions for granting bail in non- bailble offences is mentioned under section 437 of CrPC.
Hence, bail can be granted in bailable and non- bailable offences. In non- bailable offences, it is not easy for the person to obtain bail. The court has mentioned more conditions under section 437 of CrPC, after following which, the person can obtain bail even when he has committed any non- bailable offence.
Example – A person instigated a group of people to wage war against the Government of India. He will be made liable under Section 121 of IPC, 1860 for the offence of Waging War Against Government. The punishment for this offence is either of death penalty or of life imprisonment. In such cases, the Court generally does not grant bail. But take a situation if the accused is of under 16 years, then there are high chances of granting bail to the accused. Hence, some cases are there under Non- Bailable Offences where bail can be granted, but the decision to grant bail is up to the discretion of the Court.
COMPOUNDABLE AND NON-COMPOUNDABLE OFFENCES
According to Section 320 of CrPC-
“Compoundable Offences are those offences in which the victim can enterinto a compromise with the accused to drop all the charges against accused whereas, compromise is not allowed in Non-Compoundable Offences.”
Compoundable Offences include offences of less serious nature where compromise is allowed between the parties. The parties can enter into compromise, but in some cases, permission of the Court is required before enter into compromise. Offences like theft, voluntarily causing grevious hurt, etc. require the prior approval of the Court for entering into compromise. While permission of the Court is not needed for compromise in offences like defamation, criminal trespass, etc.
Non-Compoundable Offences include offences of heinous or more serious nature where compromise is not allowed on any condition. In offences like kidnapping, rape, murder, etc., the victim and the accused cannot enter into any compromise to drop the charges against accused. As the offences included in this category are of grave nature, even the Court is not allowed to permit any compromise.
Hence, offences of less serious nature where compromise is allowed are Compoundable Offences, whereas offences of grave nature where compromise is not allowed at any cost are Non-Compoundable Offences.
Generally, the offences of grave or more serious nature are categorized as Cognizable, Non-Bailable and Non- Compoundable. Whereas less serious offences are categorized as Non-Cognizable, Bailable and Compoundable. But it does not make it necessary that every Cognizable Offence is Non- Bailable. Some Cognizable Offences can be Bailable and some Non-Cognizable can be Non- Bailable Offences.