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Published : November 05, 2017 | Author : apslex
Category : Miscellaneous | Total Views : 324 | Rating :

Aishwarya Pratap Singh -. Civil Judge Lucknow U.P.

Cognizance: Meaning and Concept

What is taking cognizance has not been defined in the criminal procedure code. Literally it means ‘to become aware of’, but when used with reference to a Court or a Magistrate, it means to take ‘judicial notice of an offence’. Taking cognizance actually does not involve any formal action by the judge or magistrate, because as soon as a magistrate applies his mind to the suspected commission of an offence for the purpose of taking subsequent steps under criminal procedure code for example summoning an accused on the basis of the information available for enquiry or trial, cognizance can be said to have been taken. Cognizance can be understood in simple terms as looking through a narrow keyhole and examining whether an offence has been committed or not, and if at all it has been committed then whether proper sections of the IPC or any other special enactment are attracted or not. The underlying policy of law or objective of cognizance is to ensure a ‘judicial check’ on the police, as a judicial officer by taking cognizance examines whether the offences have been actually made out or not. Thus the word cognizance has been used in the Code to indicate the points when the Magistrate or Judge for the first time takes judicial notice of an offence. It is a word of indefinite import, and is not perhaps always used exactly in the same sense.

Section 190 of the criminal procedure code provides that any magistrate of the first-class and any magistrate of the second-class specifically empowered by the Chief judicial Magistrare can take cognizance of any offence on the following grounds
· upon receiving a complaint

· upon a police report

· upon information received from any person other than a police officer or upon his own knowledge that such offence has been committed

Cognizance will be said to have been taken only when there is a prime facie case i.e. examination at this stage will be whether the matter presented in the case is sufficient enough to take further proceedings under the procedural law. In Nupur Talwar versus CBI , one of the latest pronouncements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on cognizance the Apex court held that whenever the magistrate takes cognizance of an offence, there is no pronouncement upon the guilt of the accused. It was held that cognizance is simply a frame of mind that there is prima facie evidence against the accused that he might be involved in the case, it has nothing to do with the pronouncement of guilt of the accused. The apex court further held that the higher courts must exercise utmost restraint and must not interfere with the concurrent findings of the magistrate at the stage of cognizance. At this stage the magistrate has to examine in the circumstances of that particular case upon his own ‘judicial prudence’ as to whether the further proceedings shall be taken or not in the interest of justice. It was also held that against the order of cognizance revision can be filed before the High Court or Court of session, but the higher courts should not as a matter of routine interfere in the orders of the magistrate at this stage and the provisional powers in such cases should be exercised sparingly.

In a plethora of cases including Fakhruddin Ahmad versus State of Uttranchal, Uma Shankar Singh versus State of Biharand Anuran Rastogi versus State of UP the Apex court has held that the magistrate is not bound by the opinion of the investigating officer and he is competent to exercise his discretion at this stage irrespective of the view expressed by the police in the report. Even if the investigating authorities are of the view that no case has been made out against the accused, the magistrate can apply his mind independently to the materials contained the police report and take cognizance of the upon in the exercise of powers under section 190 (1) (b) CrPC, as the magistrate is not bound to take cognizance of the offences indicated in the police report is.

So the stage of taking cognizance is an important ‘judicial check’ or safeguard on the powers of the police and is an essential facet of the rule of law. It ensures that if an innocent has been wrongly brought to book by the police then he will not have to unnecessarily go through a judicial trial, and also if he has been wrongly framed under the wrong actions of the penal law, then the magistrate can examine the validity of these charges at the very outset and to nip in the bud injustice, at the very outset.

# (2012 ) 11 SCC465
# 2008 AIR SCW 5881
# (2010) 9 SCC 479
# 2007 AIR SCW 1107

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