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COGNIZANCE OF AN OFFENCE ON COMPLAINT

COGNIZANCE OF AN OFFENCE ON COMPLAINT:-

Section 200 the Code of Criminal Procedure code 1898 ,provides for the procedure for Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint. The Magistrate is not bound to take cognizance of an offence merely because a complaint has been filed before him when in fact the complaint does not disclose a cause of action.

Cognizance of an offence
The language in Section 200 Cr.P.C.

“a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint shall examine upon oath the complainant and the witnesses present, if any…”

clearly suggests that for taking cognizance of an offence on complaint, the Court shall examine the complainant upon oath. The object of examination of the complainant is to find out whether the complaint is justifiable or is vexatious. Merely because the complainant was examined that does not mean that the Magistrate has taken cognizance of the offence. Taking cognizance of an offence means the Magistrate must have judicially applied the mind to the contents of the complaint and indicates that Magistrate takes judicial notice of an offence.

Mere presentation of the complaint and receipt of the same in the court does not mean that the Magistrate has taken cognizance of the offence.

Section 200 Cr.P.C. contemplates a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint to examine the complaint and examine upon oath the complainant and the witnesses present, if any. Then normally three courses are available to the Magistrate. The Magistrate can either issue summons to the accused or order an inquiry under Section 202 Cr.P.C. or dismiss the complaint under Section 203Cr.P.C.

Upon consideration of the statement of complainant and the material adduced at that stage if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds to proceed, he can proceed to issue process under Section 204 Cr.P.C.

Section 202 Cr.P.C.

contemplates ‘postponement of issue of process’. It provides that the Magistrate on receipt of a complaint of an offence of which he is authorised to take cognizance may, if he thinks fit, postpones the issue of process for compelling the attendance of the person complained against, and either inquire into the case himself, or have an inquiry made by any Magistrate subordinate to him, or an investigation made by a police officer, or by some other person for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding.

If the Magistrate finds no sufficient ground for proceeding, he can dismiss the complaint by recording briefly the reasons for doing so as contemplated under Section 203 Cr.P.C. A Magistrate takes cognizance of an offence when he decides to proceed against the person accused of having committed that offence and not at the time when the Magistrate is just informed either by complainant by filing the complaint or by the police report about the commission of an offence.

Cognizancetherefore has a reference to the application of judicial mind by the Magistrate in connection with the commission of an offence and not merely to a Magistrate learning that some offence had been committed. Only upon examination of the complainant, the Magistrate will proceed to apply the judicial mind whether to take cognizance of the offence or not.

Under Section 200 Cr.P.C., when the complainant is examined, the Magistrate cannot be said to have ipso facto taken the cognizance, when the Magistrate was merely gathering the material on the basis of which he will decide whether a prima facie case is made out for taking cognizance of the offence or not.

“Cognizance of offence” means taking notice of the accusations and applying the judicial mind to the contents of the complaint and the material filed therewith. It is neither practicable nor desirable to define as to what is meant by taking cognizance. Whether the Magistrate has taken cognizance of the offence or not will depend upon facts and circumstances of the particular case.

[The above discussion on Cognizance of an Offence on Complaint is extracted from the latest judgment of Supreme Court of India in S.R. Sukumar Vs. S. Sunaad Raghuram dated July 2, 2015]

Posted from
Shoaib Rahman
LL.M. Advocate

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