Difference Between Complaint and FIR

A complaint is like knocking on your neighbor’s door to let them know their music is too loud. It’s a simple expression of dissatisfaction, verbal or written, addressing a problem without involving the authorities. On the other hand, filing an FIR (First Information Report) is like calling the cops when your neighbor’s party turns into a wild concert.

It’s a formal report to the police, initiating a legal process to investigate and take action against a crime. While a complaint is a friendly nudge, an FIR is a serious step towards seeking justice.

Complaint vs FIR

Comparison Chart

Parameter of ComparisonComplaintFIR (First Information Report)
MeaningA general report alleging an offense or wrongdoingA formal document prepared by police based on information received about a cognizable offense
NatureInformal; Can be written or oralFormal; Must be in writing
Offenses CoveredBoth cognizable and non-cognizable offensesOnly cognizable offenses (offenses for which police can arrest without warrant)
FilingCan be filed by anyone with the police station or magistrateCan only be filed with the police station by the victim, witness, or authorized person
InvestigationPolice may or may not investigate based on discretionPolice are mandated to investigate
Legally BindingNot a legally binding documentA legally binding document; Refusal to register is punishable
FormatNo specific format requiredSpecific format mandated by law
AnonymityCan be filed anonymouslyCannot be filed anonymously
Time LimitNo time limit to fileMust be filed as soon as possible after the offense

Similarities Between Complaint and FIR

Formal Documentation

Both a complaint and an FIR involve the formal documentation of an incident or grievance. They serve as written records that can be used for legal purposes.

Details of the Incident

Both documents provide a detailed account of the events, including relevant dates, times, locations, and individuals involved. This information is crucial for any subsequent investigations.

Initiates Legal Process

Both a complaint and an FIR initiate legal processes. A complaint may lead to an internal investigation or resolution within an organization, while an FIR triggers a formal criminal investigation by law enforcement.

Seeking Resolution

The primary purpose of both documents is to seek resolution. A complaint aims for redress, investigation, or resolution of a matter, while an FIR seeks to initiate legal proceedings against individuals involved in criminal activities.

What is Complaint?

The term “complaint” can be defined as any type of allegation made to a magistrate, other than a verbal police complaint, to induce him/her to act against a person under the Criminal Procedure Act.

A complaint is different from an informally filed case against someone. In an informally filed case, no legal action is taken against the accused person. However, in a complaint, the police can take legal action against the accused person. For example, if a man hits his wife, the police can legally file a complaint and punish him for domestic violence.

 In addition, filing a complaint protects one from committing an act of violence oneself if one suspects that someone may have committed a crime against one’s property or family. Essentially, filing a complaint saves one from committing an act of violence unless necessary.

A complaint is an oral accusation against someone. In addition, a friend in need is someone who needs assistance and can make a complaint. A complaint can be direct or indirect based on one’s perception of what has happened. A citizen can file a complaint and request action against someone without knowing the person’s name

Any person is allowed to file a grievance, except within the case of wedding and defamation, wherever solely aggrieved party will complain. during a grievance, the plaintiff requests to punish the offender fitly.

Elements of a Complaint

  1. Caption and Heading: The complaint begins with a caption, identifying the parties involved in the lawsuit, followed by a heading indicating the court, jurisdiction, and case number.
  2. Introduction: The introduction of the complaint succinctly presents the plaintiff’s identity, the defendant’s identity, and a brief overview of the case’s nature.
  3. Factual Allegations: This section provides a detailed account of the events leading to the dispute. Each allegation should be clear, concise, and relevant to the legal claims being asserted.
  4. Jurisdiction and Venue: The complaint must establish the court’s jurisdiction over the matter and the proper venue where the lawsuit should be heard. This ensures the court has the authority to adjudicate the case.
  5. Statement of Legal Claims: Here, the plaintiff outlines the legal theories supporting their case. Each claim is stated separately, and the complaint must articulate the specific laws or statutes allegedly violated.
  6. Prayer for Relief: The prayer for relief specifies the remedies the plaintiff seeks, such as monetary damages, injunctive relief, or specific performance. This section is crucial in guiding the court on the appropriate remedy if the plaintiff prevails.
  7. Demand for Jury Trial: If the plaintiff wishes to have a jury decide the case, a demand for a jury trial is included in the complaint.

Importance of a Well-Drafted Complaint

A well-drafted complaint is essential for a successful legal case. It serves as a roadmap for the court and the parties involved, providing clarity on the issues in dispute. Moreover, a thorough and precise complaint helps the defendant understand the allegations against them, promoting fairness and due process in the legal proceedings. Courts scrutinize complaints to ensure they meet specific legal standards and provide a basis for the claims asserted.

What is Complaint

Examples of Complaints

  1. Theft Complaint:
    • Mr. John Doe reported to the local police station that his residence was broken into last night, and valuable items, including jewelry and electronics, were stolen. He noticed the missing items this morning when he woke up.
  2. Assault Complaint:
    • Ms. Jane Smith filed a complaint stating that she was assaulted by an unknown person while walking in the park. She described the attacker’s appearance and provided details of the incident, including the time and location.
  3. Fraud Complaint:
    • A business owner, Mr. David Williams, lodged a complaint alleging fraudulent activities in his company’s financial transactions. He presented evidence of unauthorized transactions and suspicious financial discrepancies.
  4. Cybercrime Complaint:
    • Ms. Sarah Johnson reported a cybercrime incident where her social media accounts were hacked, and misleading information was posted. She provided screenshots and details about the unauthorized access to her accounts.
  5. Harassment Complaint:
    • A student, Emily Turner, filed a complaint against a fellow student, accusing them of persistent harassment. She detailed instances of unwanted attention, messages, and other harassing behavior, specifying dates and locations.

What is FIR?

When police first receive information about a crime, a written document prepared by police is called an FIR or preliminary information report. Instead, a petition filed with a judge that contains criminal charges and seeks punishment of the defendant is called a complaint.

A first information report (or first information report or F.I.R) is a case filed by the police against a person accused of committing a crime. In other words, a first information report is the formal police report against an accused person.

It may include the date and time as well as the location where incident or crime happened, it may write down the name or address of the source of the information, the specifics of the offences, and comparable other information while lodging a FIR. It may be filed at the police station in the area where the offence occurred.

After thoroughly confirming the information provided, the officer may write down the information provided by the informant in the format specified, then a FIR is filed, read by the officer, and duly signed by the informant. The informant is given a copy of the FIR.

Contents of an FIR

An FIR includes details about the complainant, the accused, and witnesses. It provides a narrative of the events leading up to and following the commission of the offense. The language used in the FIR is expected to be clear and concise, ensuring that all relevant information is accurately documented. The FIR may also contain any statements made by the accused or witnesses during the initial stages of the investigation.

Role in Investigation

Once the FIR is registered, the police commence their investigation into the alleged crime. The FIR guides the direction of the investigation, helping law enforcement officers gather evidence, interview witnesses, and take appropriate legal actions. The accuracy and completeness of the FIR are crucial, as any omissions or inaccuracies may impact the subsequent legal proceedings.

Amendments and Additions

In certain cases, amendments or additions may be made to the FIR as the investigation progresses and new information comes to light. However, such changes should be made in accordance with legal procedures to maintain the integrity of the FIR as a reliable record of the initial information received by the police.

What is FIR

Examples of First Information Reports (FIRs)

  1. Theft FIR:
    • The police registered an FIR based on Mr. John Doe’s complaint of a break-in at his residence. The FIR includes details of the stolen items, their estimated value, and any potential leads or evidence found at the crime scene.
  2. Assault FIR:
    • An FIR was lodged in response to Ms. Jane Smith’s complaint of assault in the park. The document contains information about the alleged assailant, the sequence of events, and any eyewitness accounts that may have been provided.
  3. Fraud FIR:
    • Following Mr. David Williams’ complaint of financial fraud, an FIR was registered to investigate the fraudulent activities in his company. The document outlines the nature of the fraud, financial losses incurred, and initial leads that may aid the investigation.
  4. Cybercrime FIR:
    • An FIR was filed regarding Ms. Sarah Johnson’s cybercrime complaint. It details the unauthorized access to her social media accounts, the content posted, and any digital traces that could help identify the perpetrator.
  5. Harassment FIR:
    • In response to Emily Turner’s complaint of harassment, the police registered an FIR. The document includes the specific incidents of harassment, any available evidence, and details of the alleged harasser for further investigation.

Difference Between Complaint and FIR

  • Nature:
    • Complaint: It is a general statement made by a person to bring an alleged offense or wrongdoing to the attention of the authorities.
    • FIR (First Information Report): It is a formal document registered by the police upon receiving information about the commission of a cognizable offense.
  • Initiation:
    • Complaint: Can be filed by any person, including the victim, a witness, or a concerned citizen.
    • FIR: Typically initiated by the victim or someone who has knowledge of the crime. It is filed with the police.
  • Authority:
    • Complaint: Can be filed with various authorities, such as the police, magistrate, or any relevant government agency, depending on the nature of the complaint.
    • FIR: Filed with the police and is the first step in the criminal justice process.
  • Format:
    • Complaint: May be in the form of a letter or statement and can vary in format.
    • FIR: Follows a standardized format prescribed by law, including details like the date, time, place, nature of the offense, and names of the accused.
  • Legal Standing:
    • Complaint: May or may not result in legal action, depending on the nature and merit of the complaint.
    • FIR: Triggers the formal legal process, and the police are obligated to investigate the allegations mentioned in the FIR.
  • Recording:
    • Complaint: Not necessarily recorded immediately, and there may be some procedural steps before it leads to legal action.
    • FIR: Recorded immediately by the police upon receipt of information and serves as an official document.
  • Investigation:
    • Complaint: May or may not lead to a formal police investigation, depending on the discretion of the authorities.
    • FIR: Initiates a police investigation into the alleged offense.
  • Role of Complainant:
    • Complaint: The complainant may or may not be directly involved in the subsequent legal proceedings.
    • FIR: The complainant is a crucial witness and may need to cooperate with the police during the investigation and legal proceedings.
  • Seriousness:
    • Complaint: Can be related to various issues, including non-criminal matters, and may not always involve serious offenses.
    • FIR: Primarily deals with criminal offenses, and its filing indicates a more serious legal implication.
  • Legal Documentation:
    • Complaint: May or may not lead to the creation of a formal legal document, depending on the circumstances and authorities involved.
    • FIR: Results in the creation of a legally binding document that forms the basis for further legal actions and investigations.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/762144
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12555-015-0063-6