Cognizance after application of mind by Magistrate: SC

The Supreme Court of India clarified that a Magistrate takes ‘cognizance’ of an offence on complaint after judicially applying the mind to the contents of the complaint and not just on the basis of the filing of the complaint.

“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”, the Court said.

“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”, the Court added.

The Court said, ““Cognizance” therefore 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.”

The Court also clarified that amendment to a complaint filed under Section 200 CrPC is permissible in law even though there is no specific provision to amend either a complaint or a petition filed under the provisions of CrPC.

“If the amendment sought to be made relates to a simple infirmity which is curable by means of a formal amendment and by allowing such amendment, no prejudice could be caused to the other side, notwithstanding the fact that there is no enabling provision in the Code for entertaining such amendment, the Court may permit such an amendment to be made. On the contrary, if the amendment sought to be made in the complaint does not relate either to a curable infirmity or the same cannot be corrected by a formal amendment or if there is likelihood of prejudice to the other side, then the Court shall not allow such amendment in the complaint”, the Court added.

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