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Meaning and Purpose of Complaint and the Difference Between an FIR and a Complaint | Overview
In our day to day lives, we often use the terms FIR and complaint interchangeably stating that “complaint is lodged before police” or “FIR is lodged before police” as per our understanding and convenience. However, in criminal jurisprudence, the two expressions have an entirely different meaning and are used in completely different senses.
There are several differences between the two, inter alia, the main being that FIR is lodged before the police while the complaint is lodged before a Judicial Magistrate. This article aims to look into the meaning of complaint and FIR individually and compare them to classify the difference between the two. The article shall also endeavour to highlight the process of filing the complaint and its purpose in criminal law.
A First Information Report (FIR) is the absolute initial phase in the criminal issue where the realities of the commission of wrongdoing are accounted for to the police by the individual who is an observer to the case, unfortunate casualty or an individual who has information on a similar demonstration done by the charged person.
The meaning of the FIR is given in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 under Section 154 of the Code which expresses that each data identifying with the commission of a cognizable offence, whenever offered orally to an official responsible for a police headquarters, will be diminished to composing by him or under his bearing, and be perused to the witness; and each such data, regardless of whether given recorded as a hard copy or decreased to composing as previously mentioned, will be marked by the individual giving it, and the substance thereof will be entered in a book to be kept by such official in such structure as the State Government may endorse for this sake.
The tern complaint is defined under Section 2(d) of the Code. A “complaint” signifies any charge made orally or recorded as a hard copy to a Magistrate, with a view to his making a move under this Code against some individual, regardless of whether known or obscure, has submitted an offence, however, does exclude a police report.
A report made by a cop for a situation which uncovers, after examination, the commission of a non-cognizable offence will be regarded to be a complaint; the police officer by whom such report is made will be considered to be the complainant.
Cognizance of an FIR and Complaint
FIRs can be enlisted by an injured individual, an observer of an offence or whatever other individuals who know about the wrongdoing. According to the arrangements of Section 154 of the CrPC the informant can express the realities about the offence either recorded as a hard copy or Oral.
On account of Hallu v. State of Madhya Pradesh, it was held that the Section 154 doesn’t necessitate that the Report must be given by an individual who has individual information on the episode announced. The provision discusses data identifying with the commission of a cognizable offence given to an official accountable for a police headquarters.
When the realities about the commission of wrongdoing are expressed by an individual, the police from that point read the substance of the FIR to the Complainant on the off chance that it is accounted for in an oral way.
A Magistrate can take cognizance of an endless supply of a complaint or something else, from that point he analyzes the objection by inspecting the realities and the observers. On the off chance that he finds that the complaint is with merits, the case is esteemed dedicated for preliminary and the officer gives the procedure.
In the event that the offence is only triable by the Court of Session, the Magistrate submits the case to Court of Session. On account of a first data report, the offence included is of cognizable nature and in this manner, the police have the position to start the examination in the said case without earlier consent from the Magistrate and afterwards record a charge sheet.
Then again, when a Magistrate takes the insight of an offence based on a complaint, he arranges an examination in the issue and can likewise guide the police to hold up an FIR on the off chance that he feels that the offence is of a genuine sort.
Difference Between FIR and Complaint
The primary concern of distinction between an FIR and a complaint is that an FIR identifies with a cognizable offence though a complaint can be petitioned for both cognizable and non-cognizable class of offences. Despite the fact that FIR is like a complaint, there are contrasts as far as offences they manage, disciplines, lawful results, evidentiary worth, and so forth.
Further, the FIR is required to be held up at the police headquarters close by the spot of the commission of the wrongdoing, while the complaint can be documented with a Judicial or Metropolitan Magistrate, with the end goal of mentioning activity on it.
As per Section 2(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, a complaint is a claim that some individual has carried out an offence.
Further, a complainant and a first witness need not be a similar individual. Indian criminal laws don’t give any exacting structure to an objection, and in this manner, a sworn statement or a request may likewise add up to a complaint in the official courtroom. On the contrary, the FIR is, for the most part, is a pre-characterized design.
At the point when a witness moves toward the police specialists to advise about the commission of a cognizable offence, it is called recording a complaint. This data as a complaint, when enlisted, as per 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, turns into an FIR. As it were, subsequently, the complaint is a phase preceding the FIR.
A Magistrate can take the insight of a complaint as indicated by Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. At the point when a Magistrate takes the insight of an (endless supply of a complaint or else), he looks at the complainant as per Section 200 by analyzing the realities and the observers.
In the event that he finds that the complaint is with merits, the case is esteemed dedicated for preliminary and the judge issues either the request or the warrant under Section 204. In the event that the offence is solely triable by the Court of Session, the Magistrate submits the case to Court of Session under Section 209.
On account of an FIR, the offence included is of cognizable nature and accordingly, the police have a position to start the examination in the said case without earlier authorization from the Magistrate and afterwards record a charge sheet.
Then again, when a Magistrate takes the perception of an offence based on a complaint, he arranges an examination in the issue and can likewise guide the police to hold up an FIR in the event that he feels that the offence is of a genuine sort. He can follow up on the protest just on the off chance that it uncovers a by all appearances commission of an offence.
In P. Kunhumuhammed v. State of Kerala, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala held that the report of a police officer following an examination in opposition to Section 155(2) could be treated as complaint under S. 2(d) and S. 190(1)(a) if at the beginning of the examination the police personnel is persuaded that the case included the commission of a cognizable offence or if there is any uncertainty about it and examination builds up just commission of a non-cognizable offence.
On account of the FIR, the police are approved to explore the issue and afterwards look and hold onto the proof they find. The police at that point continue to record a charge sheet against the blamed in the Court under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 toward the finish of in the examination. The court at that point settles on the charges.
The Officer responsible for a police headquarters, may on receipt of a complaint by a source that uncovers a non-cognizable offence submitted inside the points of confinement of its ward, enter the substance of the case in the station journal and allude the witness to move toward the concerned Magistrate on whose request just can the police explore such cases with indistinguishable forces from practised in a cognizable case, aside from the ability to capture without warrant.
Where a case identifies with at least two offences of which one is cognizable, at that point the case will be viewed as a cognizable offence, despite the way that different offences are non-cognizable.
- N. Chandrasekharan Pillai, R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure (6th ed. 2014).
- Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Commentary on the Code of Criminal Procedure (18th ed. 2006).
 Hallu v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1974 AIR 1936
 P. Kunhumuhammed v. the State of Kerala, 1981 Cri. L.J. 356.