police complaint
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This article is written by Vanya Verma pursuing B.B.A. LL.B (Hons.) from Alliance University, Bangalore. This article explains what is a police complaint, the format of filing a police complaint and how and to whom it is to be addressed along with what all things should be kept in mind while filing a police complaint.


A complaint is basically an accusation that is made to a Magistrate either by a complainant or an informant by informing the Magistrate about the offence that has been committed. A complaint is lodged under the Criminal Procedure Code. A complaint is lodged for both the cognizable as well as non-cognizable offences, unlike an FIR that is lodged only for cognizable offences.

What is a police complaint

The police complaint letter is an official notification addressing the police department that requires legal intervention or an adjustment following a particular situation or an event.

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The complaint gives details about the situation in order to enable the police department to take the necessary legal action to rectify the situation.

The complaint can be written by an individual or any company who wishes to report something. The complaint can be even about the assault, lost items or disturbance of any kind.

The complaint serves the purpose of an official document supporting an investigation on the reported matter. It is documented for future references.

The basic rule to write a police complaint is to be precise and to the point. The police complaint serves an official document that supports investigation on the matter reported. It is documented for reference in the future. Before writing a police complaint we must be clear about what the complaint is all about, what are the requirements to be made, and what is the purpose of a complaint and then proceed accordingly.

The term “Complaint” has been explained under Section 2(d) of the Code of Civil Procedure.

A Magistrate under Section 190 of CrPC can take cognizance of a complaint. After the Magistrate takes the cognizance of a complaint, he examines the complaint as per Section 200 of CrPC by examining the facts and the witnesses. If the Magistrate finds that the complaint is with merits, then the case is deemed to be committed for a trial and the process is issued by the Magistrate under Section 204 of CrPC. If the offence is exclusively triable by a Session Court, then the Magistrate under Section 209 of CrPC commits the case to the Court of Session.

The aggrieved person may not necessarily make the complaint, any person aware of the offence can make the complaint. That is even a person who has knowledge about the offence that has occurred to his knowledge, he has a duty to disclose the same to the concerned police officer. The general rule is that any person who has the knowledge of the offence that has been committed can file a complaint, even though the concerned person is not personally affected or interested in the offence, but there are certain exceptions to this, that are in matters related to marriage, defamation and the offences that have been mentioned in subsection 195 to 197 of CrPC. Any person, in case of violation of general law, whether or not he has suffered any particular injury has a right to complain, not only the injured person but any person who is aware of the offence has the right to make a complaint. It is not necessary for him to be a complainant, hence the word “Informant” is used in the First Information Report”. 

In the case of P. Kunhumuhammed vs. State of Kerala,1980, the Court held that “The report of a police officer following an investigation contrary to Section 155(2)[3] could be treated as a complaint under Section 2(d) and Section 190(1)(a) if at the commencement of the investigation a police officer is led to believe that the case involved the commission of a cognizable offence or if there is a doubt about it and investigation establishes an only commission of a non- cognizable offence”.

Thus, if at the initial stage of an investigation, it is found that the offence that has been committed is a non-cognizable offence, then the report which is submitted after the investigation cannot be treated as a complaint under Section 2(d) or Section 190(1)(a) of CrPC.

Mr Amit Khera v/s Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors, 2010 

In this case, it was observed that an oral complaint that is made to a police officer also comes within the purview of Section 2(d) of CrPC and can be registered as a complaint. It was observed that there is no requirement of a formal written complaint, even an oral complaint is also sufficient to lodge an investigation and is covered under the law. The contrary judgments that were passed by the Session Court and the Metropolitan Magistrate were overruled and the police officers were further directed to register a First Information Report.

Format of the police complaint

No specific format has been described for filing a complaint, however, certain points should be considered:

  • At the top of the complaint, the date and time must be mentioned at the extreme right corner. This later helps while registering FIR and keep a track of communication with the police officials as there can be more than one complaint. 
  • The left-hand side should mention to whom the police complaint is made that can be Station House Officer (SHO) or the higher police officials as per the case. The complaint must be presented to the police officer with a view to taking action under the Criminal Procedure Code. 
  • The brief headline must be made in the complaint for the police officials to understand and determine the complaint in a nutshell. It should mention the name of the complainant and the accused and the act under which the offences are made. 

There are three levels in the body of the complaint:

First level– It lays the details of the incident, it should be in simple and crisp describing the incident that occurred with the complainant or in his knowledge. It should start with the date and time of the event, like when the complainant came in touch with the accused or accused transacted with the complainant etc. 

Second level– It contains the series of events that transpired later on. The details should mention the wrong that has been committed which lead to the filing of the present complaint. It is important to note that mentioning a wrong section does not vitiate the nature of a complaint.

Third level– It mentions the prayer clause and the complete details of the complainant, that include his contact number and address. The prayer clause should clearly establish the prayer to the Station House Officer (SHO)/ police official, stating what action you seek.

The purpose of providing the details and particulars is that once the investigation starts, the complainant must be reachable so that police officials can inform the update of the complaint or contact the complainant for any missing information in the complaint.

Mode of communication

After the complaint is finalised, you should take two copies of the complaint. The originally signed copy is for the Police officer while the complainant keeps the second copy. In an ideal manner, the complaint is sent to the concerned police official as the case may be to a Station House Officer (SHO)/ Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP)/ Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP)/ Commissioner of Police (CP). 

The mode of communication that is preferred is that a complaint is received to the concerned police officer in person. Any complaint given to the police officer is noted down in their Daily Diary (DD) register. The formal receiving in the second copy is given after the stamp of the concerned police officer along with writing a DD number. The same will include the name and contact number of the investigating officer and date and time when the complaint was received.

The other modes of communication include speed post, courier or email. Even a call at the police station also amounts to a police complaint and will be considered valid under the law. 

The complainant or the informant should go to the police station that has jurisdiction over the area, where the offence has been committed and then report the offence to the officer in charge or the Station House Officer (SHO). 

If the officer on duty is not available then the senior-most police officer available in the police station helps in the paperwork of filing a complaint or FIR. If the Station House Officer (SHO) or the Inspector is not present then the Sub-inspector or the Head Constable will be the officer-in-charge, who will receive a complaint or file FIR.

Points to remember while writing a complaint

  • The complaint must be filed immediately, in case of any delay it must be mentioned in the form.
  • If the complaint is given orally, it must be taken down in writing and the officer in charge of the police station must explain the complaint to you, within the jurisdiction where the offence has taken place.
  • The complaint must be specific.
  • Four copies should be recorded simultaneously with the carbon sheets in place.
  • The complaint must be recorded in the first person. You should check the language in which it needs to be done.
  • The use of complicated, technical words, unnecessary details and terminologies should be avoided.
  • Ensure that the time of arrival and departure is mentioned in the complaint and in Daily Diary (DD) of the police station.

The complaint must contain the following:

  • In what capacity is the information being provided
  • What information needs to be conveyed
  • Mention the preparator of crime
  • Against whom the crime has been committed
  • The time when the crime was committed
  • The place where the crime was committed
  • The reason you think as to why the crime was committed
  • By which way/process the crime took place
  • Names of the witnesses, if any
  • The loss that has occurred (physical damage, money, valuables or possession)
  • Were there any traces at the crime scene (weapons or evidence) if any

After the complaint is completed, you must carefully read it and then sign it. It must be recorded in the book maintained for this purpose by the police officer. You have the right to ask for a copy of the complaint. It is not required by law to give an affidavit.

If someone gives a false complaint or wrong information to the police, he can be prosecuted under the law for giving false information of the offence under Section 203 of the Indian Penal Code.

Tips for writing a proper Police Complaint letter

Certain important things to remember while drafting a complaint:

  • The complaint must be clear and legible.
  • The problem must be precisely described.
  • The complaint must mention the person, to whom it is directed, subject and prayer clause along with your details.
  • The relevant authority must be addressed appropriately.
  • The date and place of the event must be mentioned.
  • Official content and language must be used.
  • The evidence may be provided to support the evidence. 
  • The complaint must bear the offences and ingredients as mentioned in the Indian Penal Code or any other act.
  • Describe the outcome you expect out of this complaint.
  • Give proper suggestions as to what you would like to be done.
  • You may mention the department you wish to handle your case.
  • It should be tried to keep the complaint short and direct to the point.
  • The complaint must not be exhaustive, ambiguous, false, vague, misleading or confusing.

How to file a police complaint online

These steps should be followed to online file a complaint or FIR:

  1. Visit the official website (for example www.delhipolice.nic.in is the official website for the Delhi police).
  2. On the home page select the ‘Service’ option ( select a particular category and register the complaint).
  3. There will be a new page displayed (details need to be filled in the registration form).
  4. Recheck after filling the details before submitting the form.
  5. After the submission, you will receive a copy of the complaint in PDF form.

Important information to be kept in mind

While filing the complaint, personal details will be required to be filled in the form. There will be the following options-

  • Enter the name of the complainant- Fill the person’s name who wants to lodge the complaint.
  • Enter the name of father/mother- Fill the parent’s name of the complainant.
  • Enter the address of the complainant- Fill the full address of the complainant.
  • Enter the mobile number of the complainant- Fill the working mobile number of the complainant.
  • Enter the Email-ID of the complainant- Enter the correct Email-ID because the copy of the complaint will be sent via email for verification. 


A police complaint can either be for both the cognizable as well as non-cognizable offences while FIR is filed only for cognizable offences. Though the basic meaning of both is a complaint, they are different in terms of dealing with offences, punishment, evidentiary value, legal consequences etc. It will be easy for the complainant to understand his own case if he understands these basic concepts which can prove to be very helpful while deciding a proper course of action.


  • http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-177-basics-of-a-police-complaint.html
  • https://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/women-and-child-development/women-development-1/legal-awareness-faqs
  • https://blog.ipleaders.in/fir-police-complaint/

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