Section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C

Criminal Law

Thus, it is clear from the aforesaid principles laid down by the Apex Court and also by the two judgments of the Karnataka High Court that, the application of mind is necessary even when the Special Judge refers the case for investigation under Section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C. The same principles were also reiterated by the Apex Court in yet another decision in the case of Maksud Saiyed vs, State of Gujarat (2008) 5 SCC 668. It was also held in the said case that the Magistrate ordering police investigation under Section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C. has to apply his mind and in the said case before it, the Apex Court found that there had been non-application of mind by the Magistrate while ordering the police investigation under Section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C.

Though the word “cognizance” (rooting from Old French “cognizance”, based on Latin “cognoscere”) or the words “taking cognizance” have not been deciphered and defined in the procedural law, the same derive definite connotation from a plethora of precedents and gain perceptive explanation and incisive exegesis from the judicial pronouncements. While plain and dictionary meaning thereof is “taking note of”, “taking account of”, “to know about”, “to gain knowledge about”, “awareness about certain things” etc. in law, the common understanding of the term ‘cognizance’ is “taking judicial notice by a court of law, possessing jurisdiction, on a cause or matter presented before it so as to decide whether there is any basis for initiating proceedings and determination of the cause or matter ‘judicially’”. Thus, the legal sense of taking judicial notice by a court of law or a Magistrate is altogether different from the view and idea a layman has for it; however, a broad and general comprehension is ‘judicial notice by a court of law on a crime which, according to such court, has been committed against the complainant, to take further action if facts and circumstances so warrant.

Thus, it is clear from the aforesaid meaning assigned to the word “cognizance” by the Apex Court, as well as the meaning in the Law Lexicon referred to above, that the word “cognizance” has a wider connotation than the limited or the narrow view expressed by the learned counsel for the applicant. As the Apex Court has held in Paras Nath Singh’s case (supra), the word “cognizance”, therefore, means in common term “taking notice of”, it is, therefore, not confined only to the stage of taking cognizance of the offense.

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