How to file a criminal complaint case

हिंदी में पढ़ें
June 02, 2016
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

The society is vulnerable to crime. Law protects the society and deters criminal approach. There is an established procedure of law to file a criminal case under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.  Reporting of the crime is the first and the foremost step that sets the criminal law in motion.

What is a Criminal Complaint?

A complaint according to Section 2(d) of the CrPC is an allegation made to the Magistrate in writing or verbal form which mentions about the offence committed by a person (whether known or unknown), and does not include a police report.

In layman’s language, it is simply the written allegations of the complainant and contains a summary of facts of the matter/case that he/she seeks to present before the judges, and the relief that he/she seeks for the same. The person filing the complaint is called the “complainant”.

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What is a Vakalatnama?

A Vakalatnama is a document that is submitted by the complainant thereby authorising an advocate/lawyer to argue the matter on his/her behalf. Even though an individual can file his/her own Vakalatnama, the terms used are extremely technical for a layman who does not belong to a legal background would not be able to prepare and fight a case on their own as well as an advocate who has legal knowledge can. A vakalatnama, thus, gives gives the advocate the authority to fight for justice and handle the court procedures on the complainant’s behalf.

It lists out the terms and conditions of authorisation and the rights of the advocate during the matter.

Consult: Top Criminal Lawyers in India

What is the Procedure for a Criminal Complaint Case?

There is a lengthy procedure for a criminal trial in India. The criminal proceedings, including the filing of a criminal complaint are essentially governed by the criminal procedural law of the country i.e. by the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

It is recommended to take the help of a criminal lawyer in order to understand the the full process of filing a criminal complaint. Given below is a typical procedure before, during and after the filing of a criminal complaint.

  1. Filing of a complaint by the informant / complainant at the police station.

  2. If the complaint relates to a non-cognizable offence i.e. where the police cannot arrest a person without a warrant, the police will not register the FIR (first information report) and will ask the informant to approach the court having jurisdiction over the area where the offence took place.

  3. However, if the complaint relates to the commission of a cognizable offence i.e. where the police can arrest a person without a warrant, the police will register FIR under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.).

  4. 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.

  5. After the investigation has been completed, police will file either the charge sheet or a closure report before the competent court, depending upon availability of evidence. This is done under Section 173 of Cr.P.C.

  6. In case of a closure report having been filed, the informant / complainant may be given a chance by the court to oppose the closure of the case.

  7. In case of a charge sheet having been filed, cognizance of the offences committed is taken by the court (under Section 190 of Cr.P.C.).

  8. If the offence is triable exclusively by the Sessions Court, then the case will be committed to the Sessions Court. Otherwise, the Magistrate court will continue to handle the case.

  9. Next stage is the framing of charges if there is prima facie evidence against the accused person(s). However, if no prima facie case is made out, the accused will be discharged.

  10. If charges are framed, the next stage will be the recording of evidence of prosecution witnesses. This also includes their cross-examination by or on behalf of the accused persons.

  11. Next stage is the recording of statements of accused persons under Section 313 of Cr.P.C.

  12. Thereafter, recording of evidence of defence witnesses, if any, is done by or on behalf of the accused.

  13. In the next stage, final arguments take place (may be oral as well as written).

  14. Judgment 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.

  15. In case of conviction of accused persons, sentence is awarded to the accused persons after hearing them on the question of sentence.

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 Why do you need the help of a Lawyer?

Sometimes the law and the legal framework can get confusing and difficult to understand, especially when the issue is regarding criminal law and its vast procedure. In such a scenario, one may not realize how to determine the legal issue, the area to which the issue relates to, whether the issue requires going to court and, how the court procedure works. Seeing a lawyer and getting some legal advice can enable you to comprehend your choices and can give you the legal view for you to determine your legal recourse.

An experienced attorney can give you expert advice on how to handle your criminal issue owing to his/her years of experience in handling such cases. A criminal lawyer is an expert on the laws and can help you avoid significant mistakes that may cause harm to reputation, cause you to be imprisoned for longer, or will require future legal proceedings to correct.


These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer
These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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