Difference Between Complaint and FIR

Difference Between Complaint and FIR

The two terms, FIR and complaint, have different meanings in legal terms. The complaint is a technical term used to describe how an individual makes a formal protest or complaint with the police against another person or entity. FIR is short for FIR File Report, which is the document that confirms such protests and complaints were made and when they occurred.

Complaint Vs. FIR

FIR and Complaint are two different types of documents. A complaint is a document that can be filed against both the cases of non-cognizable offenses and cognizable offenses. Whereas, an FIR, can only be filed in the case of an offense that is cognizable. The police can apprehend the offender for this offense. Non-cognizable offenses refer to offenses in which the police are not authorized to apprehend any person for crime on its own.

A complaint can be made in writing to a magistrate. This is an option that is available when there are specific concerns about what may have happened or been done that need to be investigated.

When an informant is approached by the police, they must first contact an officer responsible for the police station and provide them with a written FIR. The officer in charge will then take notes on the matter and forward it to their superior for review.

What is a Complaint?

In 1973, Section 2(d), Central Government Act was introduced to give a more specific definition of “complaint” – an allegation made in writing or orally to the Magistrate that any person, has committed any offense. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says that a complaint can be made against anyone with the goal of getting them to do something under this law. This doesn’t include reports filed by police officers!

If the commission of a non-cognizable offense is disclosed in the investigation report, that information will be used to determine if there is enough evidence to charge or prosecute the person.

The complaint will be the name of the report that was filed and the officer who filed it will become the complainant.

The Magistrate should examine the complainant and any witness under oath before putting it down in writing. This will help to ensure proper documentation is created, which will then be signed by both parties.

The Magistrate can also, under Section 202 CrPC, start proceedings against the person accused in the complaint or direct an investigation to be conducted by a police officer or by a person considered fit for the matter.

The Magistrate must decide whether the complaint is too frivolous or without merit to continue. If there seems to be no reasonable basis for pursuing the case, then the Magistrate can dismiss it with a warning letter and/or fine. However, if there is a reasonable basis for continuing with an investigation, then the magistrate may find probable cause that criminal activity has taken place and begin proceedings under Section 203 of The Penal Code.

The Magistrate must record his reasons for dismissing the complaint in writing and sign it. The reason for dismissal should be given in a clear, concise, and specific manner. It is important that the Magistrate state clearly what actions he plans to take next and why those actions are necessary.

If the complaint is found to be true, the accused may be arrested and brought before a magistrate or justice of the peace who will issue a summon. If it is determined that there is not enough evidence to proceed with an arrest or indictment, the trial proceedings may begin without further notice to either party.

If a person only has the option of filing a complaint with the Magistrate instead of going to trial, that person must do so. This is because a Sessions Court can try the matter in place of a Magistrate. Such an allegation filed before the magistrate isn’t necessary to be written in any fixed format – any person can file the complaint who is aware that an offense has been committed even if they are not connected about the situation.

In order to prove an offense being committed and it’s not required for the person to show the particular provision of law has been violated, the facts given by the person must establish this. In other words, if a witness tells you about a crime they have seen or know of, but does not mention any specific law being broken, it would be difficult to convict them on this charge without more evidence.

What is an FIR?

Section 154 (1) of CrPC, requires the officer in charge to ensure documentation of every information obtained about any cognizable offense being committed.

The written FIR will be created and signed by the officer in charge of the investigation. This document is generally referred to as the First Information Report (FIR).

The FIR is the 1st information provided to the police about an offense being committed. This information leads to further action, such as arrested or detained people, or searches and seizures.

Things like the place of the committed offense, time, and facts are to be included in an FIR. Things such as this are to be included in a report without including everything else.

If an eyewitness or victim steps forward to confess in a sexual assault case, the informant must also be provided with a free copy of the documents after it is written down. The woman officer must be available to take down the details in sexual assault cases against women if they are made by the woman involved.

Police can proceed with the investigation as soon as they receive this information. There is permission required from the concerned magistrate. And according to section 173, CrPC, the charge sheet must be filled out by the police.

Any information related to the case and a copy of the filed complaint should be given to the accused person after the initiation of the proceedings against the person accused. In accordance with sec.207, CrPC, the accused is supposed to get the names of the witnesses, reports made by the police, etc.

Filing any FIR is very important and must be done quickly. The information must be accurate and without much embellishment.

A delay in trials is not always due to a lack of evidence but can be the result of legitimate reasons such as a request from the defense.

Difference Between Complaint and FIR

  • Any complaint is basically a document that may be given in writing or orally to the Magistrate regarding an offense. It is important to note that complaints are not evidence, and do not form the basis of any criminal charges. They are only used as part of the process of investigating an offense and trying the person responsible for it.
  • A First Information Report (FIR) is the most important document the police officer has and it should be reduced to writing as soon as possible. An FIR consists of all the information that was gathered during an investigation, including but not limited to witnesses, evidence, and any arrests or prosecutions made.
  • For offenses cognizable under the law, a complaint can be filed with the police. For offenses not cognizable under the law but that may nonetheless have consequences such as damage to property or harm to someone’s reputation, a complaint can also be filed with another body such as an insurance company.
  • Only offenses that are reported with an FIR are considered cognizable.
  • If the Magistrate receives a complaint, he or she can investigate the respective matter himself. He or she may also direct any police officer to do the same if they feel it is in the best interest of justice.
  • In most cases, a police officer will file an FIR without getting the permission of the Magistrate.


An informant can approach the Superintendent or Commissioner of Police if their registration is not taken without any sort of legal reason. This happens when an offense they have committed is a non-cognizable offense, such as participating in a robbery rolled bylaw.

Judicial Magistrates will approach the same in relation to the case.

If any complaint is dismissed by the Magistrate, but the complainant files a review petition with the Court, they may do so as an option. A review petition allows for an opportunity for redress of grievances lodged against government officials before a magistrate.

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