[Know your Law] FIR vs. Complaint: Key Differences by Shruti Singh Chauhan

In day to day life we come across words like lodging FIR or complaint but many a times those who do not have an exact idea about what the FIR and Complaint is, they end up thinking both as same.But FIR and COMPLAINT are not the same, there are difference between the two in respect of the format,the offence  in which they are lodged and authority to whom it is lodged.
Section 154 of CrPC provides the definition clause for FIR,the bare provision reads FIR as “Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read Over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf”.
In general terms when a victim , witness or person who has knowledge of the crime reports it to an Officer In Charge of the Police Station and thereafter the document which is prepared by the Police is known as FIR.

When Complainant makes an allegation to the Magistrate orally or in writing, with a view to provide him information regarding the crime committed by any person is termed as Complaint.
The complaint is defined under section 2(d) of CrPC and the bare provision reads as
 “A 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 offence, but does not include a police report”.


It is given under Section 154 of CrPC
It is given under Section 2(d) of CrPC
FIR is always made to Officer In-Charge of  Police Station.
Complaint is always made to the Magistrate.
In case of FIR request is made to register the incident report.
In case a Complaint request is made to take Action.
After the FIR is lodged,the Police Officer conducts the investigation.
On receipt of Complaint,the Magistrate may conduct inquiry.
The Magistrate can take cognizance of the case on the basis of the police report submitted after the investigation in the FIR.
The Magistrate can directly  take cognizance after inquiring on the Complaint.
FIR is always made in writing and in cases where information is given orally by the informer,it is recorded.
Complaints can be made both ways either orally or in writing.
FIR is registered only in case of cognizable offence.
Complaints are made in case of both cognizable or non-cognizable offence.

About the Author: Shruti Singh Chauhan is Student of Law at PSIT, Kanpur & Student Coordinator at MyLawman. She can be reached at shrutimylawman[at]gmail.com

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