Complaint Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973


The reporting about the commission of an offence is the first step to bring the proceedings in motion. The general impression is that the process of reporting of offence is filled with complexities. As per procedural laws, information about crime can be given by anyone, who may not necessarily be the victim.

And the information about the commission of offence can be given to the police officer or the judicial magistrate. On the basis of reporting of offence, the proceedings are done in 2 different manners. When information is given to the police, it turns out to be an FIR case and when information is given to Magistrate, the proceedings will be carried out as a complaint case.

The complaint is defined under Section 2(d) of Code of Criminal Procedure as “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.”

The explanation to this provision states that when a report made by police, after investigation, discloses that a non-cognizable offence has been committed, then such a report will be deemed to be compliant and the police officer who made that report will be deemed to be the complainant.

The word complaint has a wider scope since it includes oral allegation too. Therefore, it can be concluded that there is no specific format for filing a complaint. It must only contain an allegation that prima facie discloses commission of an offence concerning the facts. A complaint can be filed in both offences- cognizable and non-cognizable. It is to be focussed that complaint is made only to the magistrate and not to judge. The purpose of adding the explanation to this provision is that no offender should get a chance to escape from justice and he must be booked in all situations. Further, this explanation does not talk about official and unofficial investigation, but just a simple investigation after which a police officer has to make the report, that plays the major role. The complaint definitely need not be against a person whom we know, but it can be against anyone. Even if a civil remedy is available in a case, it doesn’t restrict the filing of a complaint.

After taking cognizance of an offence upon a complaint made to him, under section 190, the Magistrate proceeds under Chapter 15 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which provides the process preparatory to trial.

Section 200 provides for the examination of the complainant.

When the complaint has been made verbally, the Magistrate shall examine the complainant and witnesses on oath, it should be reduced to writing, signed by the complainant, witnesses and the Magistrate. If the complaint has been made in writing:

  1. By a public servant acting in the discharge of his duties.
  2. Where Magistrate has put the case before other magistrates for inquiry or trial under section 192;

there is no need to examine the complainant and witnesses.

When the case is made over to another Magistrate under Section 192, such Magistrate need not re-examine the complaint.

Karnataka High Court observed in Durvasa v. Chandrakala, that an omission to examine the complainant and witnesses amounts to the irregularity of proceedings but doesn’t put an end to them unless the person who objected to it has suffered any harm due to such irregularity.

Protest Petition

In Rameshbhai Pundurao Hedan v. State of Gujarat, the Supreme Court has held that a protest petition filed against a police report made under Section 173 may be treated as a complaint under Section 200 and proceeded under Section 202. Protest petition is not defined in CrPC. It is an opportunity for the victim to raise an objection against the police report which concludes that the allegations made against the accused are not true.

Section 201 states the procedure that has to be followed where a complaint is made to a Magistrate who is not competent to take cognizance of the offence. In such case, the magistrate shall:

  1. Return it to the proper court, in case a written complaint was filed
  2. Direct the complainant to the proper court, when the complaint was not in writing.
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If the Magistrate acquits the accused on the ground that he had no jurisdiction to take cognizance, then such acquittal will be illegal.

Section 202Postponement of issue of process. It states that- On receipt of complaint,

  1. Which he is authorized to take cognizance of; or
  2. Which has been made over to him under Section 192;

the Magistrate may and in case, where accused resides outside his jurisdiction area, shall postpone the issue of process. He can either direct an investigation or inquire by himself into the case if he is doubtful whether sufficient grounds for proceedings exist or not.

 Direction for investigation shall not be given:

  1. Where the offence complained of, is exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions
  2. The complainant and witnesses have not been examined on oath.

Under the inquiry made by Magistrate, he may take evidence of witnesses on oath and in case of offence exclusively triable by Sessions Court, he is under obligation to call upon the complainant to produce all his witnesses for examining them on oath.

This inquiry is solely to ascertain the truth or falseness of the complaint and not to replace the regular trial, thus it need not be thorough and detailed. It doesn’t allow the accused to defend himself merely by alleging it, without any legal proof. The accused is not entitled to be heard under this section, on the question of whether proceedings should be issued against him or not; Lakshmi Kishore Tonsokar v. State. No Subordinate Court has the power to issue process after satisfaction that the case has been made on merits i.e the complaint has been made on true grounds if the offence is exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions, held in Naunaram v. State of Rajasthan.

Where the investigation is carried out by a person other than a police officer, he shall have the same powers of investigation conferred under this Code, except the power to arrest without warrant. After investigation, the police officer is bound to report his findings to the Magistrate. If the Magistrate is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for the issue of process, then he may summon the accused. But the issue of the process should only be done after the investigation report has been submitted to him. The issue of process is described under section 204, which generally means the commencement of trial proceedings in Court- the issue of summons.

Section 203 provides Dismissal of Complaint under Code of Criminal Procedure

After considering-

  1. The statements of complainant and witnesses given on oath, and
  2. Report of inquiry or investigation, done under section 202

if the Magistrate is of opinion that there is no sufficient ground for further proceedings, he shall dismiss the complaint after recording his reasons for the same. The word “sufficient grounds” relates to the facts mentioned by the complainant before the Court and while the Magistrate exercises his discretionary power of dismissal of the complaint, he should not get swayed by the considerations that are not relevant at this stage. If the Magistrate dismisses the complaint without examining the complainant on oath or without recording his reasons for doing so, it will be illegal under Section 200. Recording reasons for dismissal shows that the Magistrate applied his mind to the facts and prevents arbitrary dismissals.

An order for dismissal results in the legal determination of the complaint. Thereafter, the Magistrate becomes “functus officio” i.e he ceases to have jurisdiction to review or recall such order.

An order for dismissal of a complaint is neither an order of discharge nor an order for acquittal, thus the principle laid in the maxim- ” autre fois convict” or

“autre fois acquit”, embodied in Section 300 of the Code, is not applicable here, said Patna High Court in Ram Narayan v. Panchand Jain. Such order for dismissal of complaint does not bar to the entertainment of second complaint on the same facts, Santosh Singh v. Geetanjali woolen Pvt. Ltd.

Also Read: Procedure when Investigation for a Criminal Offence is Completed

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