Difference Between Complaint and FIR

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 14, 2023


Difference Between Complaint and FIR

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There are two crucial phrases to comprehend while reporting a crime: complaint and FIR.

When a civilian informs the police of a crime they believe has been committed, it is known as a complaint. It describes the alleged offense in detail and can be delivered orally or in writing.

Based on the complaint they received, the police create a formal document known as an FIR (First Information Report). It includes the complaint's specifics as well as further facts like the accused's and witnesses' identities and the specifics of the offense.

Complaint vs. FIR

First Information Report, or FIR for short, is the term used in criminal law to describe the report of information that the police gets first in time on the commission of a cognizable offense. A cognizable offense is a crime for which the police have the authority to detain the suspect without a warrant and to launch an investigation.

However, a complaint is filed with the magistrate in cases of non-cognizable offenses, where the police are not permitted to make any arrests without a warrant or conduct investigations without the court's prior sanction. Given that they serve as the basis for a lawsuit, a complaint, and FIR are both crucial documents.

Difference between Complaint and FIR in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparison Complaint FIR


An allegation that a crime has been committed is made in a complaint, which can be submitted either verbally or in writing to a police officer or other authority.

When the police know the commission of a crime that is punishable by law, they are required to formally produce a First Information Report (FIR).

Place to file

Usually, a local police station or other law enforcement agency is contacted with a complaint.

Typically, an FIR is filed at the police station in charge of the neighborhood where the incident was committed.

Who can file

A complaint can be submitted by anybody, including the victim, a witness, or a third party.

Only the individual who knows that a cognizable offense has been committed may file an FIR.


Both criminal and non-criminal offenses may be the subject of a complaint.

Only crimes that qualify as felonies can result in the filing of an FIR.


A complaint does not need to result in the filing of an FIR.

A cognizable offense must always be reported, and an FIR must be filed.


No particular format is necessary for a complaint.

The Criminal Procedure Code specifies a certain format that must be used when filing an FIR.


A complaint is not needed to be looked into by the police.

A police investigation of an FIR is necessary.

Type of document

An official complaint is not anything that has legal enforcement.

A legally enforceable document known as an FIR serves as the foundation for an inquiry and eventual prosecution.

Identity of the complainer

Anonymous complaints are accepted.

An FIR cannot be filed in an anonymous manner.


There is no requirement for a written complaint.

A formal investigation report (FIR) must be in writing.

What is a Complaint?

Concerning complaints to a magistrate, see Chapter XV of the CrPC. Sections 200 to 203 of the aforementioned Act detail the official legal procedure for filing complaints with the Magistrate. Section 2 (d) of the CrPC defines a "complaint" as "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." A further procedure that the Magistrate is supposed to undertake after receiving the complaint is outlined in the required parts of Chapter XV of the CrPC.

Any offense that has been reported by a complainant to the magistrate may be in writing or oral form, and it must be investigated or tried by a court with the appropriate authority. If the court having jurisdiction over the matter is not the one where the complaint was filed, it may dismiss the case or transfer it to another court with the authority to continue the proceedings. 

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:  Provisions for Magistrate Complaints

Investigation of the complaint

Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC):

This provision states that if a complaint is brought before a magistrate, the magistrate may question both the complainant and the witness, and he or she must sign off on the questioning along with their signatures. He need not question the witness, however, if the complaint was submitted in writing by a public official acting or ostensibly acting in the course of his official duties, by a court, or by a magistrate who turned the case over to another magistrate for investigation or trial as per section 192 of the CrPC. After the complainant and the witness have been cross-examined by a Magistrate, neither can be re-examined by the Magistrate to whom the matter has been moved under Section 192.

Magistrate's procedure: Ineffective for taking the case under consideration (CrPC Section 201) :

According to the aforementioned clause, if the complaint is presented to a magistrate who lacks the necessary qualifications to take cognizance of the offense, he is required to return the written complaint so that it may be presented to the appropriate court. However, the Magistrate must instruct the complainant to submit the complaint to the appropriate Court if it is not in writing.

Dismissal of complaint -

Section 203 of CrPC:

According to Section 203, the complaint will be dismissed if the Magistrate determines there is no need for further proceedings after carefully evaluating the testimony of the witnesses and the complainant under oath. In this instance, he will offer a brief explanation of his decision.

Postponement of issue of the process –

According to Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code, if the magistrate receives a complaint of an offense for which he has been given authority or that has been turned over to him pursuant to Section 192 of the Criminal Procedure Code, he may, if he sees fit, postpone the proceedings and request an investigation into the offense, or he may conduct his inquiry to determine whether the case qualifies for further proceedings or not. However, no inquiry should be undertaken in situations where the Magistrate determines that the alleged offense is only triable by the Court of Session or in situations where the complainant and any present witnesses have not undergone an oath examination pursuant to section 200.

Advantages of Complaint -

  • Gives people and groups a platform to express their unhappiness and ask for justice for whatever issues they may have.
  • Aids in the identification and resolution of difficulties and challenges inside a company or sector, resulting in advancements and higher levels of client satisfaction.
  • Enables organizations and authorities to be transparent and accountable since complaints can be used to track and assess performance.
  • May function as a disincentive for businesses and people engaged in dishonest or unlawful behavior.
  • As complaints may result in the implementation of penalties or fines for non-compliant firms, they can act as a measure of protection for customers and other stakeholders.
  • As complaints can draw attention to situations that might otherwise go ignored, they can be used to increase public awareness of concerns and problems.
  • Complaints may provide people and communities a voice and a way to hold institutions and authorities responsible for their actions, which has the potential to empower individuals and communities.

Disadvantages of Complaint -

  • Taking legal action against an organization or authority may be time-consuming and expensive for both the complaint and the authority in question.
  • Some people or groups may register unfounded or malicious complaints, making this system vulnerable to misuse.
  • Can be unsuccessful at resolving some difficulties or problems since some complaints might not be taken seriously or might not lead to any action being taken.
  • This can result in delays and inefficiencies in the resolution of complaints as certain concerns may need to go through many tiers of bureaucracy.
  • This can result in a bad reputation among the general public for institutions and authorities who get plenty of complaints.
  • This can result in people losing faith and confidence in institutions and authorities since complaints may be interpreted as an indication that they are failing to deal with issues and problems in an appropriate manner.
  • This might cause a lack of accountability since concerns could be disregarded or neglected, leaving people and organizations without a way to have their issues resolved.

What is an FIR?

In a criminal prosecution, the First Information Report is the most significant or vital document. The reason it is termed the First Information Report is because it allows for the beginning of an investigation. After all, the information reaches the police quickly.

The police create a First Information Report (FIR) when they have information concerning the commission of a crime that is legally actionable. Typically, a cognizable offense victim or someone acting on their behalf may file a police report.

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 defines the FIR as follows: "Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offense, when 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.”

Importance and Significance of an FIR

The police report that is the basis for the case is known as the "F.I.R." According to the informant, the purpose of F.I.R. is to activate the criminal justice system. The goal from the perspective of the investigating authorities is to learn more about the suspected illegal conduct so that they may take the necessary actions to find and convict the guilty party.

Although the report is significant for providing the first information regarding the incident, it does not constitute substantial evidence. It can only be used as a prior statement for the 157 or 145 of the Evidence Act purposes of confirming or contradicting the statement's creator and not other witnesses.

The goal of Section 154 of the 1973 Code of Illegal Procedure is to gather information on alleged illegal behavior as soon as possible and to document the facts before they may be changed or forgotten.

The F.I.R. is unquestionably a significant and valuable document since it is an early record and the first description of the alleged illegal behavior sent to the police to set the police on the path to conducting an investigation. During testing, F.I.R. is utilized to evaluate alterations and additions that were made after the fact.

Different types of FIR -

FIR comes in a variety of forms. Here are a few crucial types:

A General FIR

A General F.I.R. is filed in the nearest police station by the party who has been wronged or by the first party against another party.

Zero FIR

Normally, an FIR is registered with the serial number in the police station that has the authority to investigate the crime, however, Zero F.I.R. is logged throughout India without a serial number in locations without that authority. Following the 2012 Nirbhaya Gang Rape Case, the Justice Varma Committee recommended the implementation of Zero F.I.R.

Zero FIR-related advisories were widely disseminated in 2013 by the Ministry of Home Affairs. 19 September 2019 According to the Ministry of Home Affairs' advice, the division bench of the Karnataka High Court issued the following directives in response to a PIL case filed by attorney S. Umapathi stating that ZERO FIRs had not been registered:

  1. The FIR must be filed and sent to the proper Police station even if the suspected crime occurred beyond the station's local jurisdiction.
  2. Police officers may be held liable under section 166-A of the Indian Penal Code and subject to departmental action for failing to lodge an FIR or get information concerning a cognizable offense.
  3. Cross FIR : 

Cross FIR is the term used when two parties file separate police reports (FIRs) concerning the same occurrence.

Multiple FIR

This legal term refers to situations in which parties who have been wronged file several FIRs with the same cause of action. In Surender Kaushik v. State of U.P.[9], the court reiterated its stance against filing multiple FIRs for the same offense solely because doing so would jeopardize the investigation. The court did this while taking into account all prior precedents. Multiple FIRs won't be filed unless the latter informant offers forth a completely different account of the suspected incident.

Difference between Complaint and FIR (In Point) :

  • The first information report, or FIR for short, is a written record that the police create when they learn of a crime being committed for the first time. In contrast, a complaint is a petition delivered to a magistrate that includes an allegation of an infraction and a request for the accused to be punished.
  • FIRs can only be filed in the format required by law, whereas complaints may be filed in any manner.
  • A complaint is a report that someone makes to the police about an alleged crime, whereas an FIR (First Information Report) is a formal document that the police create when they receive a complaint or other information about a crime that is legally actionable.
  • An FIR, which is the initial legal document in the criminal justice system and establishes the groundwork for subsequent investigation and potential prosecution, is legally binding whereas a complaint is not.
  • An FIR may only be submitted by the police or other authorized government personnel, but a complaint can be made by anybody.
  • While an FIR has more information, including the names of the offender, the victim, and any witnesses, a complaint may offer fewer specific details about the alleged incident.
  • A complaint may be made at any time, but an FIR must be made as soon as the police become aware of the cognizable offense.
  • While the police may not act or may just make a preliminary investigation in response to a complaint, they must investigate a complaint and, if necessary, make arrests.


A police complaint can be submitted for both non-cognizable and cognizable categories of offenses, but a first information report (FIR) refers to the cognizable offense.

The initial information report is filed at the police station close to the scene of the incident, whereas a complaint must be delivered orally or in writing to the magistrate.

A complaint is defined as an accusation of fact that qualifies as a complaint under section 2(d) of the Criminal Procedure Code. Additionally, the complaint and the first informant do not have to be the same individual.

The police have the right to detain the offender after filing an FIR. In a complaint, the accused can only be arrested following section 156(3) directives; if section 202 is being investigated, no arrests are permitted.

The basic norm is that except for acts involving marriage, defamation, etc., anybody who has information about the occurrence of an offense may report it, even if they are not directly interested in or impacted by it.



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"Difference Between Complaint and FIR." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 21 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-complaint-and-fir-1339>.

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