Category Archives: Law of Crimes – II

What is difference between FIR and complaint?

Key Difference: FIR is a First Information Report. It is related only to cognizable (criminal) offences. On the other hand, police complaint can be cognizable or non-cognizable offences.

FIR and Police complaint are two different terms with different meanings. Though they are related to complaints, they have different offenses and complaints where FIR and police complaints are registered accordingly.

[FIR] FIR is a First Information Report, a complainant who is aware of the offense, as an eye witness and as hearsay account, lodges an FIR. It is information given to the Police Officer. FIR is a very serious registration that one can make. It should not be gossip and that should be traceble, and after the complete investigation the source takes the responsibility. An irresponsible rumor should not result in the registration of a FIR. It is mandatory to give a copy of the first information report (as recorded by police) to the complainant or the informant free of cost.

A cognizable case means a case in which a police officer may arrest without warrant, in accordance with the First Schedule of Cr.P.C. (1973), or under any other law for the time being in force. Whereas, non-cognizable offence means in which a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant.

Legally, a case may not be registered as there is always a doubt about its authenticity and if it does not satisfy the tests of Section 154 Criminal Procedure Code being not ‘an oral statement

clear and reduce in writing’, it will be considered as a wrong or fake statement.

On the contrary, a Police Complaint can be a cognizable or non-cognizable offences complaint. Complaint means any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under the code of criminal procedure (1973), that some person (whether known or unknown), has committed an offence. It can be related to a robbery, accident, murder, etc. Thus, it is quiet possible that a police complaint can also be converted into FIR, if the investigation proves to be a serious matter.

Who can make a complaint? Anyone can make a complaint. If you have,

Experienced inappropriate behavior from a police officer or member of police staff. Witnessed an incident – for example, you were present when an incident took place.

A person can complain anytime he wants. There is no limit on making a complaint, but it is best to do it as quickly as possible after the incident. Under the Indian Penal Code, it is said that if more than 12 months have passed between the incident and the date when the complaint is made, then the appropriate authority may not register it. There should be a valid reason for not making a complaint. However, it does not guarantee that the complaint will be investigated.

Thus, one needs to be very clear about the two terms, FIR and Police complaint, that for what reason and on which basis they both can be used.

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An FIR is formal registration of a cognizable offence(in cognizable offences police can arrest without any warrant), in writing, either by a victim, an eyewitness, police itself with or without a police informer(called Mukhbir or paid police informer without mentioning his name) or even by the accused himself if he confesses his offence. It is usually done by the concerned police station in whose jurisdiction the offence was committed but can be done at other places in different circumstances and then transferred back to the concerned police station. It bears a unique number.

A criminal complaint is technically a complaint before a judicial magistrate, in writing, regarding a non cognizable offence for which an FIR can not be written technically. For example, criminal defamation u/s 499 IPC. A criminal complaint is the correct procedure. Only court has power to take cognizance and issue arrest warrants, if needed.

An informal information to police is neither FIR, nor a complaint in strict legal sense. It is tenable in a court of law only if it is reduced to be an FIR. ———————– FIR is a First Information Report. It relates only to cognizable (criminal) offences. On the other hand, police complaint can be cognizable or non-cognizable offences.

FIR and Police complaint are two different terms with different meanings. Though they are related to complaints, they have different offenses and complaints where FIR and police complaints are registered accordingly.

FIR is a First Information Report, a complainant who is aware of the offense, as an eye witness and as hearsay account, lodges an FIR. It is information given to the Police Officer. FIR is a very serious registration that one can make. It should not be gossip and that should be traceble, and after the complete investigation the source takes the responsibility. An irresponsible rumor should not result in the registration of a FIR. It is mandatory to give a copy of the first information report (as recorded by police) to the complainant or the informant free of cost.

A cognizable case means a case in which a police officer may arrest without warrant, in accordance with the First Schedule of Cr.P.C. (1973), or under any other law for the time being in force. Whereas, non-cognizable offence means in which a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant.

On the contrary, a Police Complaint can be a cognizable or non-cognizable offences complaint. Complaint means any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under the code of criminal procedure (1973), that some person (whether known or unknown), has committed an offence. It can be related to a robbery, accident, murder, etc. Thus, it is quite possible that a police complaint can also be converted into FIR, if the investigation proves to be a serious matter.
————————————— The first information is different from a complaint, and the following are the points of distinction between two:

1. A complaint is an allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate. The first information is given in writing or orally to a Police Officer.

2. The Magistrate can take cognizance of an offence on a complaint, but not on a first information. 3. Any person can give the first information, but a complaint can be given only by a person authorised under law under certain circumstances.

It is only when a valid complaint is given that the Court can take cognizance of it. The first information, on the other hand, only empowers the Police Officer to start investigation in cases of cognizable offences.


What is a Bailable and Non-Bailable offence?

An offence can be classified as a Bailable or a Non-Bailable offence. In general, a bailable offence is an offence of relatively less severity and for which the accused has a right to be released on bail. While a non-bailable offence is a serious offence and for it, the accused cannot demand to be released on bail as a right. More specifically, Section 2(a) defines Bailable Offence as well as Non-Bailable Offence as follows –

Section 2 (a) – Bailable offence” means an offence which is shown as bailable in the First Schedule, or which is made bailable by any other law for the time being in force: and “nonbailable offence” means any other offence.

Interesting thing is that the definition itself does not refer to seriousness of the offence. It simply makes those offences as bailable which are listed as so in the First Schedule of Cr P C. These offences include offences such as obstructing a public servant from discharging his duties, bribing an election official, and providing false evidence. Non-bailable offences include offences such as murder, threatening a person to give false evidence, and failure by a person released on bail or bond to appeal before court. However, a quick look at the list of bailable and non-bailable offences shows that bailable offences are of relatively less severity.

indictment of the charges based on the same facts or that are a part of a series of offenses of the same nature. Section 218 states that for all the offences committed by the accused should be tried separately
Separate charges for distinct offences:

Sections 218 to 224 deal with joinder of charges and they must be read together and not in isolation. They all deal with the same subject-matter and set out different aspects of it. When they are read together as a whole, it becomes clear that Sections 221 and 222 cover every type of case in which a conviction can be sustained when there is no charge for that offence provided there is a charge to begin with.

Section 218 lays down two fundamental rules regarding framing of charges. First, there should be a separate charge for each distinct offence, and second, there should be a separate trial for each such charge except in four cases mentioned in sub-section (2), namely, which are covered under Sections 219, 220, 221 and 223 of the Code. Excepting the cases falling under any of these four sections, any joinder of charges in the same trial will be wholly illegal and it will vitiate the trial.

The object of Section 218 is to save the accused from being perturbed in his defence if several charges which are in no way connected with one another, are lumped together in one trial. That apart the mind of the Court is also likely to be prejudiced against the accused if he were tried in one trial upon different charges resting on different evidence.