How to File a Police Complaint in India

September 02, 2021
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

A criminal complaint can be of two kinds, one being a private complaint given to a Magistrate and the other being a First Information Report (FIR). Other than these two kinds of criminal complaints, a police complaint can also be filed by an individual. Unlike an FIR that is lodged for cognizable offences, a complaint can be lodged for both cognizable as well as non-cognizable offences under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Section 2(d) in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 defines a complaint as under:

(d) ” complaint” means 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 offense, but does not include a police report.

Before knowing how to file a police complaint, it is important to know and understand what a police complaint is, who can file it, when and where it can be filed and the crucial points that must be kept in mind while filing the police complaint.

Consult:Top Criminal Lawyers in India

What is a police complaint?

A police complaint is addressed to the department of police and is an official notification requiring legal intervention or a kind of adjustment, the need of which occurs due to the happening of a particular event or a situation. For initiation of criminal proceedings, the filing of a police complaint is the first and the foremost stage. Ultimately, a police complaint leads to the prosecution of the accused person or the offender.

The details about the event or situation are specified in the complaint which help the department of police in taking the legal action which is necessary in order to rectify the situation. The complaint is documented for future references and it serves the purpose of an official document which helps support the investigation on the matter that has been reported.

The police complaint can be about lost items, disturbance of any kind, assault by some person etc. The police goes ahead to lodge an FIR if the complaint is accepted and the investigation in the matter is commenced so that the accused can accordingly be apprehended.

Who can file a police complaint?

The general rule pertaining to who can file a police complaint is that any person can file a complaint, provided he/she has the knowledge of the offence which had been committed, though such person might not be personally interested or affected by that offence. This comes with certain exceptions such as matters relating to defamation, marriage and certain offences which are stated under subsection 195 to 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Thus, it is not necessary that only the aggrieved person can make the complaint, rather any person who is aware of the offence or might have knowledge about the occurrence of such an offence can file a complaint with the police department. The complaint can be written by any individual or any company who desires to report something that was in violation of the general law, regardless of whether the complainant is the victim of the crime, the victim’s friend, the victim’s family member or any witness to the crime committed.

If a false complaint or wrong information is given by someone to the police, then such person can be prosecuted under Section 203 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for giving false information of the offence.

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When can a police complaint be filed?

Ideally, a police complaint should be filed immediately after the crime or the incident has taken place. Usually in some kind of cases as that of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment etc., due to mental trauma, women might take some time to come out and report the incident/crime. During such circumstances, a police complaint can still be filed even if there is delay by the complainant.

If it is refused by the police to undertake an investigation or register an FIR, then the aggrieved can seek remedy under Section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 by filing an application before the concerned Magistrate who is competent to give directions to the police to go ahead and register the FIR, if the same is required by the matter.

Where can a police complaint be filed?

A police complaint should be filed in the police station that has jurisdiction over the area in which the offence was committed and the offence should then be reported to the Station House Officer (SHO) or the officer in charge. Though, a police complaint can be filed in any police station in case of an urgency for cognizable offences (serious offences) and here the police officer immediately registers a Zero FIR.

If at the police station, the officer on duty is unavailable, then the senior most police officer who is available in that station helps to file the complaint or the FIR. If the Inspector or the Station House Officer (SHO) is not present, then the Head Constable or the Sub-Inspector will be the officer in charge who will then receive a complaint or file an FIR accordingly.

Consult:Top Criminal Lawyers in India

How can one file a police complaint?

A police complaint can be filed offline or even online without having to go to the police station. It can also be filed by an e-mail, courier, speed post or even a call at the police station amounts to a police complaint and is considered valid under the law.

Offline Mode:

1. Go to the police station and inform the police about the crime/incident.

2. The complaint can either be written beforehand by the complainant, taken to the police station and have them informed that a complaint needs to be filed or the complainant could go to the police station and present the information to them orally, which will then be written down by the police.

3. Oral information to file a complaint is enough and no documents are necessarily required to file a complaint.

4. It is not necessary to know the name or the details of the accused against whom the complaint is being filed. The complainant can describe the accused as much as he/she remembers. Approximate figures of details should be given if the complainant is not sure about the specific details.

5. Before finally submitting the complaint, it must be read again carefully by the complainant in order to verify the facts and after that he/she should sign the complaint.

6. The police will stamp the complaint and provide the complainant with a ‘Complaint Number’.

7. The police will then provide a xerox copy of the complaint filed which must also be signed and stamped.

8. The police will direct the complainant to file a complaint with the Magistrate if the complaint is for a non-cognizable offence.

Online Mode:

The procedure to file a complaint online differs from state to state. If the city or state has the facility of filing complaints online, then it can be done through the internet. The concerned person can access the website and follow the steps which are given there. Following are the basic steps that are mostly present on the official website to file a complaint or an FIR by the online mode:

1. Visit the official website of the concerned police.

2. Select the ‘Service’ option on the home page.

3. Select a particular category from the given list and register the complaint.

4. A new page will be displayed. Fill in the required details in the registration form. The complainant must give their working e-mail ID and/or whatsapp number while filing the complaint.

5. Before finally submitting the form, re-check all of the details filled in.

6. After submission of the complaint, a copy of the complaint/FIR in PDF form would be sent to the e-mail ID provided by the complainant.

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Points to be kept in mind for filing a police complaint:

  • The complaint should be filled immediately without any delay

  • An oral complaint should be put in writing and must be read aloud and explained to the complainant by the officer

  • Complaint should be specific

  • It should be recorded in first person

  • Complex words, unnecessary details and terminologies should be avoided

  • Time of arrival and departure of the complainant should be mentioned in the daily diary at the police station

  • Describing the incident to police is enough - giving legal provisions and laws is not required to be provided by the complainant

  • A police complaint can be filed in any language and can be filed against multiple persons

What should be included in a Police Complaint?

The body of the police complaint mainly has three parts:

1.The first part consists of the details of the incident: The complainant should describe the incident that occurred or one which was in his knowledge in simple and crisp words. It should begin with the date on which the event took place as well as the time of its occurrence.

2. The second part consists of the series of events that emerged afterward: The wrong that was committed which lead the complainant to file the complaint must be mentioned by such complainant. The loss that has occurred, whether monetary loss, physical damage, loss of valuable items or possession etc. must also be included herein. It is pertinent to note that the nature of a complaint is not vitiated merely because a wrong section was mentioned.

3. The third part consists of the prayer and the complainant’s details: Here the prayer clause should be included wherein what action the complainant is seeking should clearly be established to the police official/ Station House Officer (SHO). The complete details of the complainant including his/her address, contact number etc. must be mentioned in this part.

Consult:Top Criminal Lawyers in India

Why do you need a lawyer?

As a citizen bound by the letter of law, it is important to understand the intricacies of the criminal justice system which is incomplete without a proper understanding of the numerous types of criminal offences punishable by law. A holistic understanding of these broad categories as discussed above is only possible with the aid of a trainedcriminal lawyerwho can impart necessary information that will best help protect and enforce your rights before a court of law. A trained lawyer can ensure that your case or dispute is handled with the expertise required to traverse the justice delivery mechanisms put in place by the state and thus best protect your interests. Therefore, the first step for any person embroiled on either side of a criminal dispute is to seek the services of a good criminal lawyer.



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