What does a Police Station do Pertaining to a Complaint?


The Police have a duty to enforce law and order and ensure that public peace and harmony are established in society. If there is a breach of the law, the Police interfere with scrutinizing it and pushing it towards judicial procedure to provide justice to the aggrieved. Therefore, Police have an essential role in the criminal justice system in India. Their respective Police manual governs the Policing system in the Indian States.

Procedure after Complaint in Police Station:

If a person finds himself aggrieved of an offense committed by someone against him, he has the right to file a complaint against the person doing it. Once the complaint is put forth in a police station, the concerned Police officer must acknowledge the nature of the offense, whether it is a cognizable offense or a non-cognizable offense. If the case is cognizable, the Police will register FIR (First Information Report) under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter called CrPC). However, in the case of a non-cognizable offense, the Police do not register an FIR since the provision in Section 154 is meant for Cognizable offenses only.

Procedure in Cognizable Offence: 

Thereafter, registering the FIR, the complaint is transferred to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to entertain the case. Moreover, the Police have the power to arrest without a warrant if the offense committed is cognizable. The provision for arrest without a warrant has been contemplated in Section 41 of CrPC. It provides that an in-charge of a police station can arrest a person without a warrant or an order by a Magistrate if he has reasonable suspicion or a reasonable complaint against the person for the commission of a cognizable offense. The police officer has to be satisfied with the necessity of arresting the person. The arrest is subject:

  • to prevent such person from committing any further offense; or

  • for proper investigation of the offense; or 

  • to prevent such person from causing the evidence of the offense to disappear or tampering with such evidence in any manner; or 

  • to prevent such person from making any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or the police officer; or 

  • unless such a person is arrested, his presence in the Court cannot be ensured whenever required.

Moreover, suppose the police officer arrests a person without a warrant or order of the Magistrate under Section 41 CrPC. In that case, he is duty-bound to record the reason for such arrest in writing. The police officer may not arrest a person under Section 41 (1) of CrPC if the offense allegedly committed by him is a cognizable offense punishable with imprisonment less than seven years or which may extend to a term not more than seven years.

In such a case, the police officer issues a notice (under Section 41-A of CrPC) against the person committing such offense to appear before him at a place specified in the notice. However, the person against whom such notice is issued shall comply with the notice to prevent arrest unless the police officer is of the opinion of arresting the person for any reasonable cause.

If the arrest is made, the accused is sent to the Magistrate of competent jurisdiction for remand under Section 167 (2) of CrPC. The notice under Section 41-A of CrPC shall be addressed either to the Magistrate or a Superior officer by the in-charge of the police station. However, the Magistrate shall not allow detention for a period exceeding fifteen days and not more than that in any case. 

Investigation and other Procedures:

In a criminal case, the investigation is critical to set the criminal justice system in motion. In furtherance of the principles of natural justice, the appointment of an investigating officer is required. The investigating officer (hereinafter called IO) has the power to investigate the case in cognizable offenses, and the procedure of such investigation complies with the provision of Section 157 of CrPC.

The IO must record the minutes in a diary with respect to the case he is investigating. The IO, during the investigation, can enter premises or a place in search of any evidence related to the case thereto. The power of inquiry has been provided under Section 165 of CrPC. Furthermore, the limitation to complete investigation has been enshrined under Section 167 of CrPC, which contemplates that if an investigation is not completed within twenty-four hours, the IO shall complete the investigation within ninety days if the case is punishable with a death sentence, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for ten years of exceeding that.

However, the IO has to complete the investigation within sixty days in a matter of other cases. Once the investigation is complete, and the supervisory authority supervises the whole investigation (in case of a felony), the charge-sheet is submitted in the Court complied with the provision of Section 173 of CrPC. Once the case is set for trial, the Magistrate under Section 207 of CrPC shall furnish a copy of the police report, FIR, and other relevant documents to the accused without charging any cost.

Procedure in Non-Cognizable Offence:

Section 155 of CrPC contemplates provision for the information to a police officer in non-cognizable offenses. In case of a non-cognizable offense, the in-charge of the police station makes an entry of the complaint in the Non-Cognizable Register (NCR) for the record, and the same should be referred to the Magistrate for a further preliminary inquiry. However, the police officer cannot arrest a person without an order by the Magistrate or a warrant.

The investigation is also subject to the order of the Magistrate. Suppose the Magistrate forwards the case to the police station of competent jurisdiction. In that case, the officer in charge is duty-bound to register an FIR under Section156 (3) of CrPC against the offense committed. Furthermore, the procedure of investigation and submission of the police report is to be followed.  

Author: Shweta Singh