Classification of offences under CrPC


Author: Sejal Jain


In colonial society, the British parliament passed the criminal procedure code, 1861 which actively served India during the post-independence era and got amended in 1969; further got replaced to The Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 ad came into force on 1st April 1974. Prior to which the set up was criticized for merging the prosecution agency with the police, the prosecution agency did not recognise as a separate identity, moreover, the police did not have the legal knowledge to conduct a prosecution nor the degree to do it.

After the commencement of  The Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the prosecution agency got its recognition, the act particularly deals with investigation, apprehension, collection of evidence & determination of guilty. Along with public offences and prevention of offences and maintenance of women and children, the act contains 484 sections, 2 schedules and 56 forms. The sections are divided into 37 chapters.

Fair trial is a chief principle in any law, court, or country, thus the primary goal of criminal law is to provide safeguards from the offenders along with ensuring the liberty of the accused through the fair and just process. As it is said until it is proven in court, he is not an offender but to ensure it, it is essential that justice is not only served but also seen to be served. Flowing from the constitution, Article 22 ensure “No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.” In Maneka Gandhi v/s Union of India[1] it was held that no criminal case shall be decided against in the absence of a legal counsel. Providing assistance to those who cannot afford a legal practitioner the code under Section 304 of the code provides with certain cases where the accused is provided with legal aid at state expenses.


An offence is an illegal act or crime punishable in the eyes of law, The Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 has recognised offences under three categories:-

  • Cognizable & Non-Cognizable offence
  • Bailable & Non-Bailable offence
  • Compoundable & Non-Compoundable offence



A cognizable offence is an offence where the police officer in accordance to the first schedule or under some other law can convict an accused without a warrant, usually, these offences are of heinous nature like murder, rake, kidnap, theft, dowery death…etc. In such offences the accused must be produced before the court in the stipulated time.

It is essential to file a First Information Report (FIR), under section 154 CrPC, it mandatory for a police officer to note the commission of a cognizable offence in writing, which gives him the opportunity to collect evidence. In-State of Haryana v/s Bhajan Lal[2], the supreme court held that the FIR must contain a piece of information disclosing the commission of the cognizable offence.

It is the duty of the police officer to lodge an FIR and investigate the same, The courts have no power under section 482 CrPC to interfere with the investigation by the Police or staying of arrest in cognizable cases[3].


  • Hiring or engaging persons to take part in an unlawful assembly or taking part in itself
  • Negligently or deliberately engaging into an act which is likely to spread infection of any dangerous disease
  • Counterfeiting Indian coin, selling false weights or measures for fraudulent use
  •  Rioting armed with dangerous weapons


  • After investigation, if the charge sheets turn out to be against the accused then the magistrate can order an arrest.
  • During the Trial, bail application can be filed against the concerned magistrate, In appropriate cases, interim bail can be granted pending disposal of the final bail application, since arrest or detention can cause harm to a person’s reputation causing irreparable loss[4].
  • Cognizable offences are both bailie and non- bailable.


Non- cognizable offences are those where a police officer cannot arrest the accused without the warrant, as listed under the first schedule of Indian penal code. These are usually not as serious as cognizable offence such as  forgery, cheating, defamation,..etc

In such offences, FIR is lodged to the magistrate after which the concerned police officer initiates the investigation. A charge sheet is further filed by the police officer which is followed by the trial and final order of arrest if the case has been made out. Any investigation without the requisite permission or order by the magistrate would be one without the jurisdiction[5]. Under section 155 of CrPC, if two or more offences are committed and one of them is cognizable then the officer will not be debarred from the further investigation as well as arrest can take place[6]


  • A public servant disobeying law with intent to cause harm to any person.
  • Bribing during elections
  • The false claim in a court of justice
  • Buying a slave
  • Misappropriation of movable property


  •  If the case is fit for trial,  accused is put forward the magistrate and if the case turns out against him then arrested.
  • In Hamid v/s Rashid alias[7], in case of addition of serious non-cognizable offence is required to surrender and apply for bail for newly added offences to save him from arrest.
  • The non-cognizable offence is bailable



A Bailable offence is a one where bail is an absolute and indefeasible right, it could be granted by the police officer in whose custody he is or concerned magistrate. Such offences are being a member of an unlawful assembly, giving false evidence in a judiciary, causing a disturbance in an assembly..etc. In Rasiklal v/s Kishor[8], it was held that under section 436 of the code a bailable offence is entitled to be released on bail pending his trial. The offender is released on the basis of a “Bail Bond”.


Bail can be granted on the basis of “Bail Bond” which contains the following conditions :-

  • Not to leave the territorial jurisdiction without the permission of the court.
  • Shall be present before the police whenever required to do so.
  • Not to tamper with the evidence. 

In Public prosecutor v/s Raghuramaiah[9], it was held under section 496 of the code, it is envisaged to realize the accused person on bail, further, the bond or sureties will be decided by the court itself. The court may refuse to grant bail to a bailable offence if the offender does not comply with the bail bond.


A Non- bailable offence is the one where bail is not the matter of right, bail can only be granted in discretion of the court, such offences usually include murder, rape..etc. In State of Maharastra v/s Ramesh Taurani[10], it was held that along with other considerations, nature and gravity of the offence are essential to decide whether bail seal be granted to a Non- Bailable offence. Here,“ Bail Bond “ is used to grant bail along with more stringent conditions than of bailable offence. In state v/s Caption Jagjit Singh[11], it was held that a non – bailable offence cannot be granted bail if convicted for life imprisonment or the death sentence.

If the accused has been arrested for two offences the. He must get a bail bond for both the offences and satisfy conditions under them; At any point, if at any point the conditions of a bail bond are fulfilled then the bail will be forfeited.  In such conditions any Appel can be made against a forfeited order, Appel shall lie against the same judge and court where the order of forfeiture was passed.


  • The application of bail is granted before the magistrate conducting the trial.
  • Under section 497 of CrPC, it well settled that a judge has the discretion to grant or refuse bail to a person accused of a non – bailable offence.
  • He may be refused of bail if attempted to abscond or is doubtful of his credentials. 
  • Accused may apply for anticipatory bail to either high court or session court in order to get direction under section 438 of CrPC if he thinks he might get arrested. Anticipatory bill id different from that of normal bail, it is issued before an arrest takes place and becomes operative after the arrest has taken place.

Anticipatory Bail

It is applicable on bailable and nonbailable offences, the power given under anticipatory bail is privileged to a person who is under the apprehension of arrest thus when abused it can be taken back under section 439 of CrPC. In K. Gajendra Baidu v/s State of A.P[12], it was held that granting bail is necessary as at times influential persons implicate their rivals into false cases.



The compoundable offence is where the complainant can drop his charges and enter into a compromise, the compromise must be Bonafide and not something to which he is not entitled, the court grants permission when convinced that the offence is entirely personal in nature and therefore does not affect public tranquility and compromise would bring peace as well as the secure end of justice, in such cases pursuing prosecution would be waste of time and energy[13].

Section 320 of CrPC splits up compoundable offences into two:-

  • Taking permission of the court is not necessary- such as criminal trespass, causing her, defamation…etc
  • Taking permission of the court is necessary:-  There are offences where the complainant has to take the permission of the court to drop the charges, the permission is usually required for offences grievous in nature and a bad example for the society such as voluntarily hurting someone with dangerous weapons, intentional alteration or destruction of valuable property during delivery…etc
  • Application for such offences shall be made before the same court where the trial is proceeding, once the charges are drop, the case is treated as the accused has been acquitted of the charges. 


A Non- compoundable offences cannot be compounded, can only be quashed as they are generally of heinous and criminal nature, thus the accused cannot be allowed to go scot-free. All offences not mentioned in section 320 of CrPC fall under Non- compoundable offence. The complaint is generally filled by: the state” like police..etc hence the question to drop charges does not arrive, even the court does not have the power to compound such offences , the trial ends with acquitted or conviction of the offence, with the final order, the criminal trial ends.


The code has classified the offences so as to provide a fair trial based on the nature and grievance of the offence, CrPC not only provides with the types of primal offence but also their bail mechanism, which is solely based on the type of offence, the overall system developed by the code is reliable and fair to support any criminal proceedings.

[1] AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621

[2] AIR 1992 SC 604

[3]  Puttan v. State 1987 AWC 404

[4] Joginder Kumar v/s state of U.P  AIR 1349, 1994 SCC (4) 260

[5] Sudarshan Manchanda v/s State of Karnataka, 1979 KLJ 449 

[6] Ram Krishna c/s state , AIR 1958 Punjab 172

[7] 2008 SCC 474

[8] AIR 2009 SCC 446

[9] AIR 1957 WR 383

[10] AIR 1998 SCC 41

[11] AIR 1962 SC 253

[12] AIR 1936 A.P. 345

[13] B.S.Joshi v/s State of Haryana 2003 SCC 675