Crime is wrong against society at large. It creates an alarming situation in society. Therefore, any person can come up with a complaint or first information report before the concerned authority.

The motive of both things is to attract the attention of the authorities and to punish the offender. Informing of a commission of a crime is one of the important processes in the Criminal Justice System.

Let’s see the difference between the complaint and the first information report with the help of the table below.

Basis of differentiation First Information Report  complaint
Definition The first information report is not defined in the code. However, it can be said to be information given to the police first in point of time relating to a cognizable offence. The complaint is defined u/s 2 (d), which means any allegation made orally or in writing to a magistrate, with a view to his taking action under the code, that some person whether known or unknown has committed an offence. It, does not include a police report
Who may Apply? First information report may be lodged by any person such as the aggrieved party or an eye witness Whereas, Complaint can be filed by any person subject to certain exceptions.
Whom to Apply? A first information report is made to the competent police officer The complaint is made to a magistrate
Nature of Offence First Information Report must relate to a cognizable offence on the face of it. A complaint may relate to a cognizable or non-cognizable offence.
Investigation When a first information report is lodged, a police officer starts with investigating the matter. Whereas, when the complaint is filed no investigation is done by the police officer until directed by the competent authority.
Cognizance In the first instance, no cognizance is taken by the Magistrate until a particular first information report is reported to him. A Magistrate takes cognizance on the complaint made to him at the very first stage.
Format There is a prescribed format by law for the first information report No prescribed format is given for filing a complaint. But some essential ingredients are to be satisfied.

Thus we could clearly look into there is a clear difference between the above two i.e. complaint & First information report. Both processes initiate criminal proceedings according to the code of criminal procedure.

also see information relating to non-cognizable offences.

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