Limitation for Taking Cognizance of some Offences

Limitation for Taking Cognizance of some Offences


Criminal law has always been one of the most imperative branches of law because it deals with the most serious offenses and it helps to ensure the society from falling into the state of anarchy. It comprises two branches- procedural and substantive law.

Procedural law gives machinery for the execution of substantive criminal law.

Substantive law provides a different kind of offense and the punishment which is imposed on the offenders.

In case there’s no procedural law, the substantive laws are of no use since no one will be able to know the way how the offenders will be prosecuted and they will be let off.

So, from this, we can conclude that both the law is complementary to each other.

The most objective of the criminal strategy is to provide a full and fair trial to the accused by taking into consideration the standards of natural equity. Various forms ought to be followed to manage equity includes pre-trial procedure lawsuits, answering a complaint, motion, disclosure, etc.. Trial procedure including cognizance of offense, beginning of proceedings, a review of the method and finally arriving at a decision.

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, there’s a separate chapter which talks about “taking the cognizance of offense by the Magistrate”. The power engaged on the Magistrate isn’t ideal; it moreover puts certain restrictions given under Section 195 to 197 of the Code. Section 190 and 193 talks almost the mode for taking cognizance.

What is Cognizance?

The word cognizance has an origin from the ancient French term “Connaissance” which means “recognition, intelligence, information, familiarity “additionally from the word “conoistre “which means “to know “and from the Anglo-Norman word “conysance “which means “later, acknowledgment, knowledge”. It is derived from the Latin word “cognosis” where the con implies to “with “and “gnosis” means “to know”.

The word ‘Cognizance’ has not been defined within the procedural law but the meaning of cognizance is derived from the number of precedents and legal pronouncements. The lexicon meaning of cognizance is “taking account of “, “taking note of “, “to gain information about”, “to have information regarding something “. If we see the lawful meaning of cognizance, It is the power or authority of the court or the “taking legal take note by a court of law having purview on an activity, matter or a cause to decide whether there’s any ground for the initiation of proceedings and deciding of the matter or cause judicially“.

In the case of R.R Chari vs the State of U.P, the Supreme Court held that the cognizance occurs when the court applies his judicial intellect to the suspicious cause of action but it isn’t essential to require any in fact or formal action.

The purpose of enacting such an arrangement isn’t to extinguish but to avoid the unnecessary delay in filing a complaint by the complainant.

Cognizance of any offense is taken by:

·        Magistrate under Section 191.

·        Court of Session under Section 193.

It is the well-established reality that the power vested on Magistrate to require the Cognizance of offense isn’t a supreme control and is subjected to the limitations which have been given within the Chapter XXXVI (section 467 to 473) of CrPC.

Section 467

This section is embedded with the reason for determining the confinements and scope that exists for the specified period of taking cognizance of an offense as given under Section 468.

For the reason of this chapter, “period of limitation” is prescribed as the period specified for taking the cognizance of offense as indicated in Section 468 unless the context otherwise requires.

Infringement of the endorsed period specified in Section 468 will be considered as ultra vires to the Section unless the exceptional circumstances otherwise give or amendment has been made in the Code changing the above laws.

The above section has been stated by the case of Additional District Magistrate Jabalpur vs S.S Shukla.

Section 468

1.      Except as otherwise given elsewhere in this Code, no Court should take cognizance of an offense of the category indicated in Sub-Section, after the expiry of the period of limitation.

2.      The period of limitation should be-

a)      six months, in case the offense able with fine only;

b)     one year, if the offense is guilty with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year;

c)      three a long time, if the offense is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding three years.

3.      For this section, the period of limitation, about offenses which may be tried together, shall be determined concerning the offense which is punishable with the more severe punishment or, as the case may be, the most extreme punishment.

Within the case of Nirmal Kanti Roy vs State of West Bengal, (1998) Cr LJ 3282 (SC), the Supreme Court held that Section 468 doesn’t apply to an offense under Section 7 (1) (A) (ii) of Fundamental Commodities Act, 1955.

In the case of State of Himachal Pradesh vs Tara Dutta, AIR 2000 SC 297, the Court has decided: “the dialect of subsection (3) of section 468 gives a clear see that period of limitation that’s given under in Section 468 is the incompatibility of the alleged offense charged but it is not utilized in respect to an offense which is at long last proved.”

In the case of Venkappa Gurappa Hosur vs Kasawwa (1997), the Court said: “once the period of prevention starts to proceed, it continues its full course.”

Section 469

Beginning of period of limitation

The period of confinement commences from the taking after points:

·        On the day when the offense was committed.

·        When the individual aggrieved by the act had no information regarding the commission of the offense or the police officer; it begins on the day when it comes to the information of the aggrieved party or police examining the case whichever is prior.

·        When the individual who has committed an act is obscure or not being identified, the first date on which the accused was known either to the aggrieved individual or to the police officer examining the case whichever is prior.

The day from which such period of limitation starts might be excluded for the reason of this Chapter. It means that the first day from which the period of limitation starts to be calculated shall not be included while computing the period of limitation. Let us understand from the example:

The offense punishable as it were with the fine was committed on 1st May 2019. The period of restriction starts from 2nd May 2019 and not from 1st May 2019.

In the case of State of Rajasthan vs Sanjay Kumar,1998 Cri LJ 256 (SC), the Court stated that the period of restriction will not commence from the date when the test was taken but from the date when the report of Open Analysts was received in case of adulteration.

Section 470

Exclusion of Time in certain cases

This section explains the time that’s to be prohibited whereas calculating the period of limitation.

Firstly, it says that in case the concerned individual whose offense or case is being evaluated for cognizance is engaged within the proceedings of another prosecution against the offender within the interim, then the residency taken by that prosecution would be prohibited. The prosecution might pertain to a case recorded within the, first the occurrence or one in a court of the offer.

The explanation that the law gives her is that exclusion from the period of limitation will not be allowed unless the prosecution is based on the same case and it rests upon the same set of facts but by mistake of law, is being prosecuted in a court that’s unable to engage it due to need of jurisdiction. In such a situation, the time spent within the incorrect prosecution will be rendered invalid and won’t be taken into account.

The second clause gives that if the case in prosecution has received a remaining order or injunction from the court, then the full period amid which the directive or stay order will continue to operate will stay outside the purview of the period of limitation of the cognizance.

This period starts from its day of issuance of the remaining order or order and closes on the very day of its official withdrawal by the court. It is stated that in case any law necessitates the obtaining of any arrangement of endorsement or permission of any offense, then the date on which the application for an endorsement is recorded till the date on which the authorization or consent is received gets excluded from being computed within the period of limitation.

Apart from the above the period of limitation also does not consider the time amid which the accused is outside the region of India or in any such area which is exterior the organization of the central government conjointly the time amid which he tries to abscond conceal himself to escape arrest.

Section 471

Exclusion of the date on which court is closed:

The day when the Court is closed is prohibited from being authorized to the required period of limitation.

It is a rule that in the case when the period of limitation expires on the day of the closure of court proceedings the cognizance of an offense is taken when the court reopens.

When the court closes on ordinary working hours for a specific period it is assumed that the Court has been closed for the same day.

Section 472

When the offense continues:

When the offenses proceed or are in the handle of happening; new limitation begins to run at every minute, the offense is imitated all through the full term that it continues.

Section 473

Expansion of Period in Certain Cases:

·        This section is pivotal because it focuses on administering justice.

·        It gives a chance to the complainant or the aggrieved person to organize the suit indeed after the expiry of the prescribed period of limitation.

·        In normal circumstances, the case isn’t to be instituted after the expiry of the endorsed period but in exceptional circumstances, the court allows for the institution of the suit.

Discretion of the Court

It is the discretion of the Court to extend the period of confinement. This section does not order the court to extend the period of limitation.


·        When the court is satisfied with the facts and circumstances of the case that complainant was prevented by sufficient cause from not appearing before the Court inside the prescribed period of limitation.

·        The cause of the delay is legitimately explained and the court is fulfilled with it.

·        The court thinks that it is fundamental to expand the period in the interest of justice.

The Limitation Act

Section 5

Expansion of the period in Certain Cases

Even within the civil case, the court includes a discretionary control to expand the period of an impediment when the court is satisfied that there was adequate cause for not showing up within the endorsed period or that the cause of the reason was sufficiently clarified or that it is necessary to do in the interest of justice.

Case: State of Himachal Pradesh vs Tara Dutta AIR 2000 SC 1729

The Court held that:

“when the provision is being conjured by the Magistrate, and it condones the delay then the order of the Magistrate must show that the delay was properly clarified to him and it was vital for the condonation of delay in the interest of justice”.

In the case of Srinivas Pal vs Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh SC 1729, the Court has decided that:

“It isn’t mandatory to decide whether the extension of the period of limitation under Section 473 must precede taking the cognizance of the offense.”


With time, the proof falls apart, the charge may end up unidentified, the circumstances might be changed. So, the suit may be brought within the specified period so that the lawyers can discover the evidence, the circumstance of the accused does not change.

It was not conceivable to bring the suit within the appropriate time so for this purpose Chapter, XXXVI was enacted. It isn’t brought to quench the rights of the individual but it is brought to avoid the superfluous delay in instituting a suit.