Limitations in criminal liability |
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Limitations in criminal liability

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Chapter XXXVI of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 deals with limitation for taking cognizance of certain offences. The provisions of various relevant sections of the said chapter are as follows: “Section 468: Bar to taking cognizance after lapse of the period of limitation 

(1)   Except as otherwise provided elsewhere in this Code, no Court, shall take cognizance of an offence of the category specified in sub-section (2), after the expiry of the period of limitation. 

(2)   The period of limitation shall be –

  1. Six months, if the offence is punishable with fine only;
  2. One year, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year;
  3. Three years, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding three years. 

(3)   For the purposes of this section, the period of limitation, in relation to offences which may be tried together, shall be determined with reference to the offence which is punishable with the more severe punishment or, as the case may be, the most severe punishment. 

To decide whether the complaint is time barred or not, we need to know under what provisions the complaint has been made and also what is the maximum punishment of the offences mentioned in the complaint.  

Further as per the provisions of Section 469(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the period of limitation in relation to an offender shall commence 

  1. On the date of offence; or 
  2. Where the commission of the offence was not known to the person aggrieved by the offence or to any police officer, the first day on which such offence comes to the knowledge of such person or to any police officer, whichever is earlier; or 
  3. Where it is not known by whom the offence was committed, the first day on which the identity of the offender is known to the person aggrieved by the offence or to the police officer making investigation into the offence, whichever is earlier. 

Further as per section 469(2) of the CrPC, in computing the said period, the day from which such period is to computed has to be excluded. 

Also, as per the provision of Section 472 of CrPC, in case of continuing offence, a fresh period of limitation shall begin to run at every moment of the time during which the offence continues.”

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