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This article is written by  Team LawSikho. This article discusses when can a criminal case be filed.

Introduction

As we noted before, the initiation of a criminal case is with the lodging of an FIR and the FIR can be lodged only for cognizable offenses, which are usually serious in nature. There can be a wide variety of offenses for which an FIR can be filed, but this article will discuss a few cognizable offenses with recent/relevant examples.

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Murder

The two basic elements under Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which deals with Murder are the intention to cause death and action with this intent. Section 302 which deals with the punishment for murder prescribes the punishment as either death or imprisonment for life and a fine. A death sentence for the offenders in the Nirbhaya case was pronounced under this section.

Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the Government of India

Under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, the punishment for this offense is also death or imprisonment for life and a fine. A death sentence for the parliament attack convicts including Afzal Guru was pronounced under this section.

Fraud

This is covered within ‘Cheating’ in Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the elements of this crime involve deceiving someone to give away their property or do something which they would not do if they had not been deceived and in this process, cause harm to the body, mind, reputation or property of that person. See here for an article on how fraudsters can be dealt with to recover money.

Provisions relating to offences against women

It is necessary that the cases that involve offences against women are to be investigated promptly right after an FIR is registered along with the filing of the charge sheets within sixty/ ninety days. The kinds of offences that are included in the offences against women are as follows:

  • Rape
  • Kidnapping/abduction of girl/women
  • Molestation
  • Eve-teasing
  • Dowry homicide/suicide/torture

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 has also included new offences in the same list. They are:

  • Acid attack.
  • Voyeurism.
  • Stalking.
  • Trafficking of women.

Investigation Officer: The investigation of a crime against women shall be conducted by a woman officer. If necessary, an investigation team should be formed. The victim should be dealt with utmost sympathy.

Criminal infringement of Intellectual Property

Can you imagine the harm which can be caused if fake eatables or counterfeit medicines are sold as original ones? It can result in causing illness or even death for a substantial number of people. Some years back, there were cases of people filling in substandard milk in re-sealed plastic pouches of renowned milk brands such as Amul. This activity not only amounts to the infringement of the ‘Amul’ trademark but is really dangerous to the health of the people consuming the milk assuming it to be of the same standard as the ‘Amul’ brand. Owners of trademarks have both civil as criminal remedies available to them for infringement or passing off.  

Similarly, copyright infringement is a cognizable offense punishable with imprisonment of not less than six months and up to three years and fine. This will have particular relevance when copyrights in books are infringed (see an interesting case here).

When the accused is a juvenile

A juvenile is someone who has committed an offense and has not completed the eighteenth year of age as on the date of commission of the offense. A juvenile cannot be detained in a police station or jail and must be sent to an observation home. They are also not tried by the court but are tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to death or imprisonment in jail. For proving their age, juveniles can submit birth certificates or school documents and if such documents are not available, they can undergo a verification test.

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