A Prajnya 16 Days Campaign against Gender Violence Resource
Prepared by Amba Salelkar (.pdf version here)


1. Check whether an FIR is applicable here. A first information report is a loose term that’s meant to describe the recording of a Complaint in a Cognizable Case.

2. A cognizable case is one in which the police has powers to investigate, arrest and search without a warrant. The following are examples of cognizable cases:
a. Rape
b. Murder
c. Robbery
d. Dacoity
e. Domestic Violence as defined under Sec. 498A, Indian Penal Code

3. Non-cognizable cases are those in which the Police does not have powers to investigate. But, you can approach a Magistrate who can direct the Police to investigate. You can also file the case directly before the Magistrate. Some examples are:
a. Defamation
b. Bigamy
c. Giving False evidence in a judicial proceeding
d. Forgery

4. Other offences under special legislations e.g. The Prevention of Corruption Act, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act etc. have specialized procedures. So verify what procedure you should be following.

5. As far as possible, check for what offence you think has been committed and make sure you have all the necessary documents to show some basis for making the complaint. For example:
a. Establish your own identity with a passport or other form of photo ID.
b. If it is a domestic violence complaint, bring some proof of marriage, even if it is a photo.
c. If it is a case of theft/dowry/criminal breach of trust, bring some document showing that the item in question was yours in the first place. If it is a dowry case for example, photos of exchange of jewelry, original receipts etc. are useful. Also, make a list of the items that have been stolen/misappropriated.

6. Check jurisdiction. Most criminal cases have jurisdiction where the offence took place. For example, if your chain was stolen at Nanganallur Railway Station, you will have to file the Complaint at the Police Station which has jurisdiction. In domestic violence cases, a woman can file the case at the police station which has jurisdiction over the place she presently resides. Some offences, like offences under 498A and offences under cyber crimes, may be entrusted to a separate police cell, so check before you go.

7. As far as possible, write your complaint out and carry it along with one copy.


1. Ask to see the Station House Officer. S/he will be the person who will register your complaint.

2. In every cognizable case, the Police must register a Complaint.
In case of a non cognizable complaint, the police will record your complaint and give you an “NC” or a non cognizable complaint record. Keep this safely. You might need it in the future in case the matter escalates into a cognizable offence, or you go before a Magistrate.

3. The FIR has two parts:
a. The proforma, which is the printed sheet where details relating to the Complainant and the Accused and the offence will be taken down. As a Complainant, you will have to sign the proforma.
b. The second part is the statement of the Complainant, which also has to be signed. No other witness statement requires to be signed under Indian Law.

4. Even if you do not know your Accused, give a faithful and accurate description. Print out and/or download cellphone shots you may have taken. Keep the original files as they will be called upon later at the stage of trial.

5. Ask for the statement to be recorded in a language you understand. In case that is not possible, make sure the statement is translated and explained to you by the officer recording it. Insist on every detail being recorded.

6. In case the statement is not recorded as per your wishes, please sign it “under protest,” recording your reservations. Submit your written complaint and obtain an acknowledgement on the copy you have.

7. If that is not possible, go home and send the written complaint by registered post AD and be sure to record that your Complaint was not recorded as per your narration. Keep the acknowledgment.

8. Do not leave the police station without your copy of the FIR. As the Complainant, you have a right to this.

9. You may be called to the Police Station for further statements – including identification of seized goods, identifying arrested persons, clarifications etc. Leave a reliable contact number for the police to get in touch with you.

10. If the Police refuse to lodge an FIR or record an NC when the case is cognizable, this is what you can do:
a. Go to the Senior Inspector of Police of the Police Station and make your Complaint.
b. If that fails, visit the Office of the ACP of the Division and make your Complaint.
c. If that fails, go before a Magistrate with all your documents and a written Complaint and ask that he direct that an FIR be lodged at the Police Station. You may require a lawyer for this.


1. Keep the FIR copy safely. There will be an FIR Number which will be the reference for the Case until the investigation is over.

2. Follow up with the Police until the chargesheet is filed. The chargesheet is filed when the investigation is over and the Police believe that they have a case which can lead to a conviction.

3. You can also follow up to find out whether anyone has been arrested, and as a Complainant/Victim you have the right to be heard when these Accused apply for Bail/Anticipatory Bail.

4. When the Chargesheet is filed, the Case will go to trial. As a victim/complainant you have the right to appoint a lawyer to assist the Prosecution.

5. In case you are not satisfied with the investigation, on concrete grounds, you can approach a Magistrate/The High Court for directions in appropriate cases, if you can show that there has been a miscarriage of justice.