COMPLAINTS TO MAGISTRATES
Chapter XV of CrPC contains S. 200 – 203 which provide information pertaining to the various steps which are involved in the examination of complaint by Magistrate. These provisions are exclusively applicable in cases where cognizance is taken on a complaint.
Object – To weed out false and vexatious complaints without calling upon the party complained against.
SECTION 200 – EXAMINATION OF COMPLAINANT
This section explains the following :-
- Examination of Complainant – The magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on a complaint has to examine on oath the complainant and the witnesses (if any). Whether the complaint is in writing or otherwise, examination of complainant on oath is obligatory.
- Object of Examination – The purpose of examination is firstly, to ascertain whether there is a prima facie case against the person accused and secondly, to prevent the issue of process on a complaint which is false or vexatious.
- Signature of Complainant – The substance of the examination has to be in writing and the same shall be signed by the complainant, witnesses and also by the magistrate.
- Joint Complaint – There exists a difference of opinion as to whether the word complainant can be interpreted to mean “complainants”. The Madras High Court in Narayan Swami v. Egappa held that a joint complaint by two or more persons is not contemplated by the Section, whereas the Allahabad High Court in Sital Chandra v. Babu Ram., held the contrary view.
- Exception – This section creates an exception to the abovementioned rule by providing that the examination of complainant and witnesses is not necessary, when the complaint is made in writing, :-
- By a court or a public servant, such as, a police officer etc.,
- If the Magistrate makes over the case for inquiry or trial to another Magistrate u/s 192. Furthermore, if the case has been handed over by the magistrate to the competent magistrate after examining the complainant and the witnesses, then the latter magistrate is not required to re-examine them.
Though it is not obligatory in the afore-mentioned exceptional cases, for the magistrate to examine the complainant and the witnesses, however, there is no bar for the magistrate to make such examinations, if he considers it necessary to do so.
SECTION 201 – PROCEDURE BY MAGISTRATE NOT COMPETENT TO TAKE COGNIZANCE OF THE CASE
This section provides that if the complaint has been made to a magistrate who is not competent to take cognizance of the offence, then in such a case, he shall :-
- If the complaint is in writing, return it to the person concerned for presenting it before the proper court with an endorsement to that effect.
- If the complaint is not in writing, direct the complainant to the proper court.
Case Law :- Rajendra Singh v. State of Bihar
Facts :- Court acquitted the accused on the ground that it had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the complainant.
Held :- Order of acquittal was held as illegal as the court ought to have returned the complaint for presentation to the proper court instead of acquitting the accused.
SECTION 202 – POSTPONMENT OF ISSUE OF PROCESS
- Procedure on receipt of complaint – This section provides that on receiving a complaint, if the magistrate chooses to take cognizance he can adopt any of the following alternatives :-
- Issue process – If after perusing the complaint, he is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for proceeding, then he can issue process to the accused. However, prior to this, the magistrate has to comply with the requirements of section 200 and thereby record evidence of the complainant and the witnesses. The magistrate may call the accused to show as to why a process should not be issued against him.
- Inquiry – The magistrate can postpone the issue of process and direct an inquiry himself. It is not necessary that the inquiry shall be confined to the evidence of the complainant himself. The complainant must be given an opportunity to prove the truth of his complaint, but the accused has no right to participate in enquiry u/s 202 at this stage. Sub-section 2 empowers the magistrate to take evidence of witness on oath.
- Direct Police – The magistrate can postpone the issue of process and direct an investigation by the police or by any other person. The police is under an obligation to submit a report with respect to the result of their investigation to the magistrate.
- Mandatory duty of magistrate – This section makes it obligatory for the magistrate that before summoning an accused who resides beyond his jurisdiction he shall enquire into the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by a police officer or any other person for finding out as to whether there is any sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The object of the provision is to protect the innocent persons who are residing at far off places from being harassed by unscrupulous persons through filing of false complaints.
- Proviso – The proviso provides as follows :-
- If the offence is triable exclusively by the Sessions Court then the magistrate should not issue an order for investigation and he shall himself hold an inquiry under sub-section 2.
- The magistrate is under an obligation to examine the complainant and witnesses (if any) to ascertain the truth of the complaint.
- Taking evidence on oath (Sub-section 2) – It provides that if the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the sessions court, then the magistrate is to call upon the complainant to produce all his witnesses and further, examine them on oath.
Case Law :- Shanker Roul v. Ramakant Swain
Held :- All witnesses means each witness the complainant seeks to examine to further his case. It does not necessarily mean all witnesses named in the complaint.
- Investigation by Person other than Police Officer (sub-section 3) – When an investigation is made by a person other than a police officer, then such person will be vested with all the powers conferred by the code on an officer in charge of the police station except the power to arrest without warrant.
SECTION 203 – DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT
- Dismissal of Complaint – This section expressly provides that if the magistrate after considering the
- Statement on oath of the complainant and of the witnesses and
- The result of investigation u/s 202
is of the opinion that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding, then he may dismiss a complaint. However, if after summoning the accused, the proceedings have been commenced against him, then a complaint cannot be dismissed under this section.
Case Law :- K. Chaudhari v. State of UP
Held :- Mere lapse of time between the commission of the offence and date of complaint is not a ground for dismissal of complaint, though the same might be relevant at the trial stage for assessing of evidence.
- Reasons to be recorded – Whenever a complaint is dismissed by the magistrate, he is under a duty to record reasons for the same. The object of the same is to allow the High Court to consider as to whether the discretion vested in the magistrate has been properly exercised or jot. Failure to record reasons has been considered in the case of Jatinder Singh v. Ranjit Kaur., as a direct disobedience of law which cannot be cured by S. 464 & 465.
- Grounds for dismissal of Complaint – S. 200-203 are supposed to be read together. A magistrate can dismiss a complaint and refuse the issue of process on any of the following grounds :-
- If u/s 203, after considering the statement by the complainant which is reduced to writing u/s 200, he is of the opinion that no offence has been committed.
- If he distrusts the statement made by the complainant
- If he distrusts the statement of the complainant but his distrusts is not strong enough to warrant him to act upon it, then in such a case, he may direct a further inquiry as provided in section 200.
- Neither an order of discharge nor acquittal – If a complaint has been dismissed, it is neither an order of discharge nor an order of acquittal. Therefore, the principle of autrefois convict and autrefois acquit incorporate in section 300 is inapplicable.
- Second Complaint – In Poonam Chand Jain v. Fazru., it has been expressly held that after dismissal of the first complaint, a second complaint on almost identical facts can only be entertained in exceptional circumstances.
Case Law :- PN Talukdar v. SR Sarkar
Held :- Certain exceptional circumstances in which second complaint can be entertained are as follows :-
- Where the previous order was passed on an incomplete record or
- Where the previous order was the result of a misunderstanding of the nature of the complaint or
Where new facts are adduced in the second complaint which could not have been brought on record in the previous proceeding.