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Criminal Complaint

The term Criminal Complaint refers to the Complaint which is criminal in nature or Penal in nature. The criminal proceedings are those proceedings, wherein in more serious offences, the State is involved.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, is a comprehensive and exhaustive procedural law for conducting a criminal trial in India and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the primary penal law of India, which is applicable to all offences, except as may be provided under any other law in India.

The criminal investigation process and the prosecution mechanism in India can be commenced in any of the following manner:


Any Police officer, even without the orders of a Magistrate, can investigate a cognizable offence, on its own knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offence or upon receiving a complaint.


  • When a complaint relates to a non-cognizable offence, i.e. where the police cannot arrest a person without a warrant, the police does not register the FIR(first information report) and ask the informant to approach the Court having jurisdiction over the area where the offence took place.
  • FIR is a written document, prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. FIRs can be registered by a victim, a witness or someone else with knowledge of the crime. Information about the commission of a cognizable offence can be given to the police either in writing or orally.
  • If the complaint relates to the commission of a cognizable offence, then the police register FIR under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.).
  • Registration of FIR is followed by detailed investigation conducted by the police. This may include recording of statements of witnesses; search and seizure of documents and other property (if any, involved); collection of other evidence, if any (such as scientific evidence, medical evidence); examination and/or arrest of accused persons, and other processes of investigation.
  • After the completion of the investigation, police either files the charge sheet or a closure report before the competent Court, depending upon the availability of evidence.
  • In case of the filing of a closure report, the informant / complainant may be given a chance by the Court to oppose the closure of the case.
  • In case of the filing of a charge sheet, cognizance of the offences committed is taken by the Court.
  • Once the Court takes cognizance and if there is prima facie evidence against the accused person(s), then the next stage is the framing of charges. However, if no prima facie case is made out, then the accused is discharged.
  • After the framing of the charges, the next stage is the recording of evidence of prosecution witnesses. This also includes their cross-examination by or on behalf of the accused persons.
  • After the examination and cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, next stage is the recording of statements of the accused persons.
  • Thereafter, recording of evidence of defense witnesses, if any, is done by or on behalf of the accused.
  • In the next stage, final arguments take place (may be oral as well as written).
  • Thereafter, Judgment is delivered by the Court. It may result in conviction or acquittal of accused persons, depending upon whether or not the charges are proved by evidence adduced by prosecution.
  • In case of conviction of accused persons, sentence is awarded to the accused persons.

In case of failure or inaction of a police officer to investigate a cognizable offence, a criminal complaint can be filed before a Magistrate under Section 190 of Cr.P.C., for taking cognizance of such offence, and on such complaint, the Magistrate himself can take cognizance of the case and do the enquiry, or in the alternative under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C., order Police to register an F.I.R and investigate the offence.



  • After filing of the complaint before the Competent Court, the Court examines the complainant and its witnesses on the same day or any other day to ascertain whether any offence is made out against the accused person.
  • After examination of the complainant the Magistrate may order an enquiry for the matter and submit a report for the same.
  • After examination of the complaint and the report the Court may come to the conclusion. If the Court does not find any sufficient material through which he can convict the accused then the Court will dismiss the complaint and record its reason for so.
  • After examination of the complaint and the report, if the Court thinks that the prosecution has a genuine case and there is sufficient material and evidence with the prosecution to charge the accused then the Magistrate may issue a warrant or a summon depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The other steps to be followed thereafter depends on whether the Magistrate has ordered for a summons case or a warrant case, as there are different procedures given for both of them.

- As on 1st July 2019