Difference Between F.I.R. and Police Complaint

Difference Between F.I.R. and Police Complaint

In today’s minacious world of violence and crime, a very important succour for any and every citizen in India is to report those crimes to the authorities i.e. the Police. This situation is where an F.I.R. or a police complaint comes into play.

FIR is an acronym for First Information Report, it is a written document prepared by police authorities in countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence, or in Singapore when the police receives information about any criminal offence, whereas, a police complaint can be about a cognizable and non-cognizable offence both.

As stated above a cognizable offence means the one 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.

A case may not be legally registered, as there is always a doubt about its legitimacy 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 fake or wrong statement.

The major difference here is that the person filing the FIR is a complainant who is aware of the offence, as an eye witness and as hearsay account. FIR is a very serious registration that one can make and is given to the police officers. Reckless or thoughtless hearsay neither does nor should result in an FIR. Also, it is mandatory for the police authorities to give the copy of the first information report as stated by the police free of cost to the complainant.

On the contrary, a Police Complaint can be a complaint that is about a cognizable or non-cognizable offence.

The question that now arises is that who can make a complaint?

This can be answered as, anyone can make a complaint. If you have,

  1. Experienced inappropriate behaviour from a police officer or member of police staff.
  2. 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.

In this scenario, complaint directs to any allegation that is oral or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under the code of criminal procedure (1973), that someone, has committed an offence. It can be related to a murder, accident, theft, conspiracy etc.

Thus, it is a possibility that a police complaint can be converted into an FIR, if the investigation proves to be a grave or critical incident altogether.

FIR and Police complaint are two different terms that have different meanings. Though they are both basically complaints, they have different offences and complaints where FIR and police complaints are registered automatically.

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.


Cognizable Offence
Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
Non-cognizable Offence
Police Complaint
Section 154 of CrPC

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