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 no. Any Magistrate of the first class and any magistrate of the second class may take cognizance of any offense. Section 190- 199 of the code describes the methods by which, and the limitations subject to which, various criminal courts are entitled to take cognizance of offenses. Section 190(1) provides that, subject to the provisions of S. 195-199, any magistrate of the first class and any magistrate of the second class specially empowered in this behalf, may take cognizance of any offenses-
a) Upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such an offense.
b) Upon a police report of such facts.
c) Upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such an offense has been committed.
Sections 195-199 are exceptions to the general rule that any person having knowledge of the commission of an offense, may set the law in motion by a complaint, even though he is not personally interested or affected by the offense. The general rule is that any person having knowledge of the commission of an offense may set the law in motion by a complaint even though he is not personally interested in, or affected by the offense. To this general rule, Sections 195 to 199 of Cr. P.C. provide exceptions, for they forbid cognizance being taken of the offenses referred to therein except where there is a complaint by the Court or the public servant concerned. The Supreme Court, in Bashir-ul-Haq v. State, held that Section 195 of CrPC. requires that without a written complaint of the public servant concerned no prosecution for an offense under Section 182, IPC can be launched nor any cognizance of the case taken by the Court. Generally whenever a offence take place and it came into the knowledge of judicial magistrate he is bound to take cognizance of the offence. but in certain cases apart from the facts which constitute the offence certain more preconditions have to be satisfies before the court can proceed to take the cognizance offence.
Eg:- Suppose a person is violating the norms of the lockdown and just because he is out on the street and does t follow the norms of the lockdown, policemen who is deployed on the duty, they use force on him and as far as IPC is concern clearly address the provisions of Sec 323 & 324 IPC. But if you go and complain about the policemen to the magistrate then the point would be, the court would not take cognizance of the offence, the reason being the policemen is protected by Sec 197 CrPC because with the sanction of the Government the accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence.
Hence court cannot just take cognizance of the offence. There are some preconditions and limitations which need to be followed.
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