Section 2(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 ( the “code” hereinafter), defines a complaint as any allegation which is made orally or in writing to a Magistrate for the purpose to take action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown has committed an offence but does not include a police report.

The essentials of a valid complaint includes the allegation made to a magistrate and the statements made should be in such a way that makes sense for the magistrate to hold action under the code. A mere declaration made to the magistrate can’t be considered as a complaint. The purpose behind it should be to ask for action.

A distinct offence is not necessary to be stated, but the allegation of facts should constitute an offence. The allegation must be made orally or in writing.


Chapter XV of the Code deals with complaint to magistrates. The chapter includes Section 200 and extends to Section 203.

Section 200 deals with the examination of witnesses and complainant on taking cognizance of the offence of complaint for the purpose of verifying the details of such complaints by examining the concerned persons under oath and Section 201 states the procedure of the magistrate who is not competent to take the cognizance of the said offence of complaint.

The provision of Section 202 CrPC deals with whether the magistrate will himself investigate or direct an investigation by police etc. Under section 203 CrPC if the magistrate doesn’t find any sufficient ground to proceed further, he may direct the dismissal of the complaint.


Section 200 of the Code deals with the examination of the complainant. This section is important for examining the genuineness and reliability of the complaint or statements given by the complainant and the witnesses.

When a magistrate takes the cognizance of an offence on a complaint, he/she shall examine the complainant and the witnesses present on oath. The substance of such examination by the magistrate shall be written and signed by the complainant, witnesses and the magistrate.

In the situation where a complaint has been written down, then the magistrate is not required to examine the complainant and witnesses in the following cases-

  1. If a public servant during discharging his officialdutiesor purporting to discharge his duties or court has made such a complaint
  2. If the magistrates make over the case to another magistrate under section 192 of CrPC.

In the case where the magistrate has already examined the witnesses and the complainant and then makes over the case to the concerned magistrate under section 192 of CrPC then there is no requirement for reexamining the witnesses and the complainant.

The objective behind the examination for complainant under Section 200 CrPC by the magistrate is that a large number of complaints are filed by private individuals, many of which may be frivolous in nature. Therefore, it is considered necessary to verify the details of such complaints by examining the complainant on oath under Section 200 of CrPC and the power to take cognizance upon such private complaint lies under section 190 of CrPC.

In the case of Doshi Brothers vs the State of Maharashtra[1],hon’ble Justice Naidu held that the examination of complaints is done to discover the truth or otherwise of the allegations made. The objective behind this is to decide the issue from the complainant’s viewpoint, with no reference to the possible defence. Thus, the procedure under Section 200 CrPC is non-adversarial. The statements that is recorded is only the substance or gist of the case not the exact statement given by the complainant. Therefore, it is not a piece of substantial evidence to be used to refute or dishonour the complainant.


Section 201 is invoked when the magistrate is incompetent to take cognizance of the case. A magistrate is not competent to take cognizance of the case when he lacks the territorial jurisdiction to deal with the offence.

In such a situation the concerned magistrate shall-

  1. The Complaint in writing – Return the complaint for the presentation to the proper court with approval to the effect.
  2. Complaint not in writing –Direct the complaint to the proper court.

In the case of Ramadhar Singh @ R.D Singh v. Smt Ambika Sahu[2], the hon’ble Supreme court stated clearly in its judgment that without invading into the worthiness of the matter what has to be fundamentally seen is the appeal and the prerequisite of the law below which the same has been registered under Section 201 CrPC.


This section deals with the postponement of issue of process.

In the situation when any magistrate receives anyreceipt of a complaint of an offence of which he has the authority to take cognizance upon or which was referred to the concerned magistrate by the Section 192 CrPC may postpone the issue of process against the accused and could either take the inquiry of the case under him or direct the investigation to be done by a police officer or any person as he deems fit for deciding whether there is any sufficient ground for proceeding. 

The magistrate may even take the cognizance on receipt of a complaint of an offence against the accused when the accused is residing at a place which is beyond the area of jurisdiction of the concerned magistrate.

No direction for investigation shall be made in the following situations-

  1. That the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the court of session
  2. The complaint has not been made by a court

The magistrate in an inquiry under subsection (1) may call the complainant to produce all his witnesses and examine them on oath where the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the court of session.

In a situation when the investigation under subsection (1) is done by a person who is not a police officer, then that person shall have all the powers conferred under this code on an officer of a police station except the power to arrest without warrant.

The Apex court in the case of Manharibhai Muljibhai Kakadia v. Shaileshbhai Mohanbhai Patel[3] held that the accused doesn’t have the right to intervene in the course of an inquiry by the magistrate under section 202.

In the case of Chimanlal v Datar Singh[4], the court held that the dismissal of a complaint is not proper if the Magistrate has failed to examine material witness under Section 202.


Section 203 deals with the dismissal of the complainant. In the situation when the magistrate after examining the complainant and the witness and getting the result of the inquiry under section 202 believes that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding then the complaint may be dismissed by the magistrate and the magistrate is required to briefly record his reasons for doing so.

In the case of Manharibhai Muljibhai Kakadia v. Shaileshbhai Mohanbhai Patel[5]the Supreme court stated that when the complaint is dismissed under section 203 of CrPC at the stage of –

  1. Section 200
  2. After completion of an inquiry under Section 202
  3. On receiving receipt of a report from the police or from any other individual who was directed by the magistrate to investigate upon the said complaint
  4. In any such situation, the result of such dismissal is the termination of the criminal proceedings.

The Supreme court in the case of Poonam Chand Jain v. Fazru[6]explained the exceptional circumstances in which the second complaint can be entertained. They are –

  1. The previous complaint was passed on an incomplete record
  2. Misunderstanding regarding nature of the complaint
  3. The Order passed was absurd, unjust or foolish
  4. New facts were not bought with reasonable diligence in the previous proceedings.

In the case of Bholu Ram v. State of Punjab[7]the Apex court held that one cannot challenge the complaint under section 203 CrPC. The accused cannot be heard at the stage of Section 203and that the accused has no rule at the said stage.


The chapter XV is crucial as it deals with the commencement of proceedings. The provisions under this chapter are to be followed diligently to regulate further stages of the criminal proceedings. The hon’ble courts of the country have made it evident that the witnesses of the complainant should be heard of and examined properly without which any complaint can’t be rejected.



[1]Doshi Brothers vs. the State of Maharashtra, (2020) 1 Mah LJ 759

[2]Ramadhar Singh @ R.D Singh v. Smt Ambika Sahu, 27th Oct 2016

[3]Manharibhai Muljibhai Kakadia v. Shaileshbhai Mohanbhai Patel ,(2012) 10 SCC 517

[4]Chimanlal v Datar Singh,1998 CriLJ 267

[5]Manharibhai Muljibhai Kakadia v. Shaileshbhai Mohanbhai Patel, (2012) 10 SCC 517

[6]Poonam Chand Jain v. Fazru, AIR 2010 SC 659

[7]Bholu Ram v. State of Punjab,(2008) 9 SCC 140

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