Understanding Definitions in Section 2 CRPC

The Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) is a crucial legislative framework that guides legal procedures in India. Section 2 of the CRPC lays down various definitions essential for the interpretation and application of the code. Understanding these definitions is fundamental for legal practitioners, law enforcement officials, and individuals involved in legal proceedings.

section 2 crpc

Meaning and Importance

Section 2 of the CRPC serves as the foundation for interpreting the legal terminology used throughout the code. It defines crucial terms that are frequently encountered in criminal cases, ensuring clarity and consistency in legal proceedings. These definitions play a pivotal role in shaping the course of investigations, trials, and judgments.

Definitions.—In this Code, unless the context otherwise requires,—
(a) “bailable offence” means an offence which is shown as bailable in the First Schedule, or which is made bailable by any other law for the time being in force; and “non-bailable offence” means any other offence;

(b) “charge” includes any head of charge when the charge contains more heads than one;

(c) “cognizable offence” means an offence for which, and “cognizable case” means a case in which, a police officer may, in accordance with the First Schedule or under any other law for the time being in force, arrest without warrant;

(d) “complaint” means any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but does not include a police report.
Explanation.—A report made by a police officer in a case which discloses, after investigation, the commission of a non-cognizable offence shall be deemed to be a complaint; and the police officer by whom such report is made shall be deemed to be the complainant;

(e) “High Court” means,—
(i) in relation to any State, the High Court for that State;
(ii) in relation to a Union territory to which the jurisdiction of the High Court for a State has been extended by law, that High Court;
(iii) in relation to any other Union territory, the highest Court of criminal appeal for that territory other than the Supreme Court of India;

(f) “India” means the territories to which this Code extends;

(g) “inquiry” means every inquiry, other than a trial, conducted under this Code by a Magistrate or Court;

(h) “investigation” includes all the proceedings under this Code for the collection of evidence conducted by a police officer or by any person (other than a Magistrate) who is authorised by a Magistrate in this behalf;

(i) “judicial proceeding” includes any proceeding in the course of which evidence is or may be legally taken on oath;

(j) “local jurisdiction”, in relation to a Court or Magistrate, means the local area within which the Court or Magistrate may exercise all or any of its or his powers under this Code 1 [and such local area may comprise the whole of the State, or any part of the State, as the State Government may, by notification, specify];

(k) “metropolitan area” means the area declared, or deemed to be declared, under section 8, to be a metropolitan area;

(l) “non-cognizable offence” means an offence for which, and “non-cognizable case” means a case in which, a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant;

(m) “notification” means a notification published in the Official Gazette;

(n) “offence” means any act or omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force and includes any act in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 20 of the Cattletrespass Act, 1871 (1 of 1871);

(o) “officer in charge of a police station” includes, when the officer in charge of the police station is absent from the station-house or unable from illness or other cause to perform his duties, the police officer present at the station-house who is next in rank to such officer and is above the rank of constable or, when the State Government so directs, any other police officer so present;

(p) “place” includes a house, building, tent, vehicle and vessel;

(q) “pleader”, when used with reference to any proceeding in any Court, means a person authorised by or under any law for the time being in force, to practise in such Court, and includes any other person appointed with the permission of the Court to act in such proceeding;

(r) “police report” means a report forwarded by a police officer to a Magistrate under sub-section (2) of section 173;

(s) “police station” means any post or place declared generally or specially by the State Government, to be a police station, and includes any local area specified by the State Government in this behalf;

Key Definitions in Section 2 CRPC


The term “accused” refers to a person against whom an accusation of committing a crime is made. In criminal proceedings, the accused enjoys certain rights and protections under the law, including the right to legal representation and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

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Cognizable Offense

A cognizable offense is one for which a police officer may arrest an individual without a warrant and initiate an investigation without the need for a court order. These offenses are typically more serious in nature and may involve violence, property damage, or other significant harm.

Non-Cognizable Offense

In contrast, a non-cognizable offense is one for which a police officer cannot arrest an individual without a warrant and may require the intervention of the court to initiate an investigation. These offenses are generally less severe and may include minor infractions or regulatory violations.


A complaint is a formal allegation or accusation made by a person to a magistrate or law enforcement authority, seeking redress for a perceived wrong or harm. Complaints serve as the basis for initiating legal proceedings and triggering investigations into alleged offenses.


Information refers to a formal accusation or charge filed by a police officer before a magistrate, alleging the commission of a cognizable offense. It serves as the starting point for judicial proceedings and enables the magistrate to take cognizance of the alleged offense.


Investigation entails the process of gathering evidence, examining witnesses, and collecting information to ascertain the facts surrounding a criminal offense. It is conducted by law enforcement authorities to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to prosecute the accused.


A magistrate is a judicial officer vested with the authority to preside over legal proceedings, issue warrants, grant bail, and make preliminary determinations in criminal cases. Magistrates play a crucial role in ensuring the fair and impartial administration of justice.

Police Officer

A police officer is a law enforcement official entrusted with maintaining public order, preventing and detecting crimes, and enforcing the law. Police officers are responsible for conducting investigations, apprehending suspects, and gathering evidence in criminal cases.

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An inquiry is a formal examination or investigation conducted by a magistrate or other authorized official to ascertain the facts surrounding a particular matter. In criminal proceedings, inquiries may be initiated to gather additional evidence or clarify legal issues.

Interpretation of Definitions

Legal Interpretation

The definitions provided in Section 2 of the CRPC are subject to legal interpretation by courts and legal scholars. Courts may interpret these definitions in light of established legal principles, precedent, and legislative intent to ensure consistent application and adherence to the rule of law.

Practical Application

In practice, the interpretation of definitions in Section 2 CRPC often determines the procedural steps taken in criminal cases. Law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and defense attorneys rely on these definitions to navigate the complexities of criminal investigations, trials, and appeals.

Impact on Legal Proceedings

Role in Criminal Cases

The definitions outlined in Section 2 CRPC play a significant role in shaping the outcome of criminal cases. They establish the framework for determining the rights and responsibilities of parties involved, guiding the conduct of investigations, and facilitating the administration of justice.

Significance in Police Investigations

For law enforcement agencies, clear definitions are essential for distinguishing between cognizable and non-cognizable offenses, determining the scope of police powers, and ensuring compliance with legal procedures. Understanding these definitions is crucial for conducting effective and lawful investigations.

Critique and Analysis

Ambiguities and Challenges

Despite its importance, Section 2 CRPC may contain ambiguities or inconsistencies that pose challenges for legal practitioners and courts. Ambiguous definitions can lead to interpretation disputes, procedural delays, and uncertainties in legal proceedings, highlighting the need for clarity and precision in legislative drafting.

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Reform Proposals

To address these challenges, legal experts may propose reforms aimed at refining and clarifying the definitions provided in Section 2 CRPC. Reforms could involve legislative amendments, judicial interpretation, or administrative guidelines designed to enhance the clarity, coherence, and accessibility of the law.


In conclusion, Section 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure plays a vital role in shaping the legal landscape of India by providing essential definitions for interpreting and applying the law. Understanding these definitions is crucial for legal practitioners, law enforcement officials, and individuals involved in legal proceedings. By clarifying key concepts and delineating legal rights and obligations, Section 2 CRPC contributes to the fair and effective administration of justice in the country.


Clear definitions help law enforcement agencies distinguish between different types of offenses and determine the scope of their powers during investigations.

Ambiguous definitions can lead to interpretation disputes, procedural delays, and uncertainties in legal proceedings, posing challenges for both legal practitioners and courts.

Legal experts may propose reforms aimed at refining and clarifying the definitions provided in Section 2 CRPC to enhance clarity, coherence, and accessibility of the law.

By providing clear definitions, Section 2 CRPC ensures fairness, consistency, and effectiveness in legal proceedings, ultimately contributing to the administration of justice in India.