About FIRs
From the point of view of a victim

An FIR or 'First Information Report' is a document prepared by the police when they get any information about a crime that has occurred. Normally, it is the first step that has to take place before the police can investigate a crime.

If a crime has not yet taken place but you know about it, you can still go to the police and give this information. If this is a 'cognizable offence'(explained below) , the police has a duty to prevent its commission and will act accordingly.

You can go to the police with any type of crime. With more serious or urgent crimes, the police have to register an FIR immediately, and start investigation. These are called cognizable offences, such as rape, murder, burglary etc. Click here to find out which crimes are cognizable.

For other kinds of crimes, which are less serious, like adultery and defamation, the police need permission from a Magistrate in order to investigate the crime. These offences are called non-cognizable. Click here to find out which offences are non-cognizable. If you go to the police with a non-cognizable crime, they still have to record a 'non-cognizable report', and send you to the Magistrate.

If it is not clear which kind of case it is, the police can do a small initial inquiry to find out. In all other cases, if a crime has been committed, the police have to either start investigation or send you to a Magistrate.

If a crime has taken place, you can go to a police station and register an FIR.  You can be either the victim of the crime, or have some knowledge about the crime.  You should try and tell the police whatever you know, but you don't have to know all the details. For example, it is not necessary to know the name of the person responsible for the crime to lodge an FIR.

When you enter, you will be directed to the Duty Officer. You can either verbally tell the officer what happened, or write down the details yourself. If you tell the police verbally, then they must write it down, and then read it out to you. The Duty Officer will then make an entry in the General Diary or Daily Diary kept at the reception.

If you have a written complaint with you, please carry two copies and give them to the Duty Officer. Both will be stamped and one will be returned to you. The stamp bears a 'Daily Diary Number' or DD No. and is proof that they received your complaint.

Once the police have read it out, if all the details are correct, you can sign the FIR. You have the right to get a copy of the FIR for free. Note the FIR number, date of FIR and the name of the police station. In case you lose your copy, you can use these details to access the FIR online for free.

After registering the FIR, the contents of the FIR cannot be changed. However, you can give additional information to the police later on at any point.

In some states and cities, certain kinds of FIRs and complaints can be registered online.

                                               State/City

                       Types of Complaints that can be Registered Online

Bihar- Patna

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Delhi

An online complaint can be filed for:

  • missing persons or children
  • unidentified children and persons or dead bodies
  • senior citizens registration
  • stolen and unclaimed vehicle search
  • missing/ stolen mobile phones

Haryana

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Himachal Pradesh

All non-immediate crimes of a non-serious nature can be reported online. Typical response time is 3 days. To report serious crimes, crimes currently underway or where the offender is still in the vicinity, contacting the nearest police station is recommended.

Jharkhand

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Madhya Pradesh

All kinds of complaints can be filed, including complaints against the police and complaints relating to cyber-crimes.

Maharashtra- Mumbai

Complaints can only be filed for non-cognizable offences.

Odisha

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Tamil Nadu

Complaints can be filed for all the cognizable crimes mentioned on the website.

West Bengal- Kolkata

In Kolkata, online FIRs can only be filed for minor, non-cognizable offences not requiring an immediate response.

 

For most of these cities or states, you can also get SMS updates on your phone regarding the status of your FIR. Please check with the police when you are filing for an FIR if there are such facilities.

Most cities are divided into districts, and the areas within a district are covered by different police stations. For instance, the police station in Karol Bagh (Delhi) will only be looking at crimes within the area it covers. So it is advisable to go to the police station nearest to the place where the crime happened to report about it. But you don't need exact knowledge of the correct police station. You can go to any police station, and they should refer you to the correct station if they cannot register it themselves.

You can also try calling 100 to find out which police station you should go to.

If the crime is cognizable, the police have to register it. If they refuse, you have the right to do the following:

  • Send the details of your complaint to the local Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police. If he thinks that a cognizable crime has been committed, he has to either investigate it himself or order an investigation.
  • If no action is taken even after you have approached the Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police, you can go to the local Magistrate asking her to order the police to investigate.
  • Complain to the State Human Rights Commission.
  • Complain to the Police Complaint Authority, if it exists in your state.

 

IMPORTANT

If the police refuse to act on your FIR, you need proof that you tried to take action. This is where the received copy is crucial. You should mention the 'Daily Diary Number' given on your first complaint in all your letters and complaints sent afterwards.

 

    State

State Human Rights Commission (where information is available online)

Police Complaint Authority (where information is available online)

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

 

 

Andhra Pradesh

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

 

Arunachal Pradesh

 

 

Assam

http://www.ahrc.gov.in/

 

Bihar

http://www.bhrc.bih.nic.in/docs/Complaint-Registration-Form.pdf

 

Chandigarh

 

http://chandigarh.gov.in/dept_pca.htm

Chhattisgarh

http://www.hrc.cg.gov.in/contact.html

 

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

 

 

Daman and Diu

 

http://www.daman.nic.in/websites/Police-Complaint-Authority/documents/Complaint%20Form%20(English).pdf

Delhi

 

http://pca.delhigovt.nic.in/

Goa

http://goahrc.weebly.com/contact-us.html

https://www.goa.gov.in/departments/policecomplaintsauthority.html

Gujarat

https://gshrc.gujarat.gov.in/contact.htm

http://www.gspca.gujarat.gov.in/gspca/2015/9/10/FAQ/79 ­­

Haryana

http://hhrc.gov.in/ContactUs.aspx

http://spcahry.nic.in/english/forms.html

Himachal Pradesh

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

 

Jammu & Kashmir

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

 

Jharkhand

http://www.jshrc.in/onlinecomplaintregistration.php

 

Karnataka

http://www.kshrc.kar.nic.in/docs/Format%20for%20filing%20a%20complaint%20with%20the%20KSHRC.pdf

http://www.karnataka.gov.in/spca/Pages/state-police-complaint-authority.aspx

Kerala

http://www.kshrc.kerala.gov.in/index.php/contact

 

Lakshadweep

 

 

Madhya Pradesh

http://www.mphrc.nic.in/Content/complaint.aspx

 

Maharashtra

http://www.mshrc.gov.in/Content.aspx?ID=675

 

Manipur

 

 

Meghalaya

 

 

Mizoram

 

 

Nagaland

 

 

Odisha

http://as1.ori.nic.in/ohrc/orch_complain.aspx

 

Punjab

http://pshrc.net/index.php/complaint-format/

 

Puducherry

 

 

Rajasthan

http://www.rshrc.rajasthan.gov.in/includes/Complaint-Registration-Form-English-new.pdf

http://police.rajasthan.gov.in/PoliceContacts.aspx

Sikkim

http://sshrc.nic.in/contactus.html

 

Tamil Nadu

http://www.shrc.tn.nic.in/

 

Telangana

 

 

Tripura

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

http://tpac.nic.in/

Uttar Pradesh

http://uphrc.up.nic.in/pdf/Contact_List.pdf

 

Uttarakhand

http://www.ukhrc.net/index.php/online-complaint-registration-form

 

West Bengal

http://wbhrc.nic.in

 

 

An FIR or 'First Information Report' is a document prepared by the police when they get any information about a crime that has occurred. Normally, it is the first step that has to take place before the police can investigate a crime.

If a crime has not yet taken place but you know about it, you can still go to the police and give this information. If this is a 'cognizable offence'(explained below) , the police has a duty to prevent its commission and will act accordingly.

You can go to the police with any type of crime. With more serious or urgent crimes, the police have to register an FIR immediately, and start investigation. These are called cognizable offences, such as rape, murder, burglary etc. Click here to find out which crimes are cognizable.

For other kinds of crimes, which are less serious, like adultery and defamation, the police need permission from a Magistrate in order to investigate the crime. These offences are called non-cognizable. Click here to find out which offences are non-cognizable. If you go to the police with a non-cognizable crime, they still have to record a 'non-cognizable report', and send you to the Magistrate.

If it is not clear which kind of case it is, the police can do a small initial inquiry to find out. In all other cases, if a crime has been committed, the police have to either start investigation or send you to a Magistrate.

If a crime has taken place, you can go to a police station and register an FIR.  You can be either the victim of the crime, or have some knowledge about the crime.  You should try and tell the police whatever you know, but you don't have to know all the details. For example, it is not necessary to know the name of the person responsible for the crime to lodge an FIR.

When you enter, you will be directed to the Duty Officer. You can either verbally tell the officer what happened, or write down the details yourself. If you tell the police verbally, then they must write it down, and then read it out to you. The Duty Officer will then make an entry in the General Diary or Daily Diary kept at the reception.

If you have a written complaint with you, please carry two copies and give them to the Duty Officer. Both will be stamped and one will be returned to you. The stamp bears a 'Daily Diary Number' or DD No. and is proof that they received your complaint.

Once the police have read it out, if all the details are correct, you can sign the FIR. You have the right to get a copy of the FIR for free. Note the FIR number, date of FIR and the name of the police station. In case you lose your copy, you can use these details to access the FIR online for free.

After registering the FIR, the contents of the FIR cannot be changed. However, you can give additional information to the police later on at any point.

In some states and cities, certain kinds of FIRs and complaints can be registered online.

                                               State/City

                       Types of Complaints that can be Registered Online

Bihar- Patna

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Delhi

An online complaint can be filed for:

  • missing persons or children
  • unidentified children and persons or dead bodies
  • senior citizens registration
  • stolen and unclaimed vehicle search
  • missing/ stolen mobile phones

Haryana

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Himachal Pradesh

All non-immediate crimes of a non-serious nature can be reported online. Typical response time is 3 days. To report serious crimes, crimes currently underway or where the offender is still in the vicinity, contacting the nearest police station is recommended.

Jharkhand

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Madhya Pradesh

All kinds of complaints can be filed, including complaints against the police and complaints relating to cyber-crimes.

Maharashtra- Mumbai

Complaints can only be filed for non-cognizable offences.

Odisha

All kinds of complaints can be filed on the website.

Tamil Nadu

Complaints can be filed for all the cognizable crimes mentioned on the website.

West Bengal- Kolkata

In Kolkata, online FIRs can only be filed for minor, non-cognizable offences not requiring an immediate response.

 

For most of these cities or states, you can also get SMS updates on your phone regarding the status of your FIR. Please check with the police when you are filing for an FIR if there are such facilities.

Most cities are divided into districts, and the areas within a district are covered by different police stations. For instance, the police station in Karol Bagh (Delhi) will only be looking at crimes within the area it covers. So it is advisable to go to the police station nearest to the place where the crime happened to report about it. But you don't need exact knowledge of the correct police station. You can go to any police station, and they should refer you to the correct station if they cannot register it themselves.

You can also try calling 100 to find out which police station you should go to.

If the crime is cognizable, the police have to register it. If they refuse, you have the right to do the following:

  • Send the details of your complaint to the local Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police. If he thinks that a cognizable crime has been committed, he has to either investigate it himself or order an investigation.
  • If no action is taken even after you have approached the Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police, you can go to the local Magistrate asking her to order the police to investigate.
  • Complain to the State Human Rights Commission.
  • Complain to the Police Complaint Authority, if it exists in your state.

 

IMPORTANT

If the police refuse to act on your FIR, you need proof that you tried to take action. This is where the received copy is crucial. You should mention the 'Daily Diary Number' given on your first complaint in all your letters and complaints sent afterwards.

 

    State

State Human Rights Commission (where information is available online)

Police Complaint Authority (where information is available online)

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

 

 

Andhra Pradesh

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

 

Arunachal Pradesh

 

 

Assam

http://www.ahrc.gov.in/

 

Bihar

http://www.bhrc.bih.nic.in/docs/Complaint-Registration-Form.pdf

 

Chandigarh

 

http://chandigarh.gov.in/dept_pca.htm

Chhattisgarh

http://www.hrc.cg.gov.in/contact.html

 

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

 

 

Daman and Diu

 

http://www.daman.nic.in/websites/Police-Complaint-Authority/documents/Complaint%20Form%20(English).pdf

Delhi

 

http://pca.delhigovt.nic.in/

Goa

http://goahrc.weebly.com/contact-us.html

https://www.goa.gov.in/departments/policecomplaintsauthority.html

Gujarat

https://gshrc.gujarat.gov.in/contact.htm

http://www.gspca.gujarat.gov.in/gspca/2015/9/10/FAQ/79 ­­

Haryana

http://hhrc.gov.in/ContactUs.aspx

http://spcahry.nic.in/english/forms.html

Himachal Pradesh

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

 

Jammu & Kashmir

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

 

Jharkhand

http://www.jshrc.in/onlinecomplaintregistration.php

 

Karnataka

http://www.kshrc.kar.nic.in/docs/Format%20for%20filing%20a%20complaint%20with%20the%20KSHRC.pdf

http://www.karnataka.gov.in/spca/Pages/state-police-complaint-authority.aspx

Kerala

http://www.kshrc.kerala.gov.in/index.php/contact

 

Lakshadweep

 

 

Madhya Pradesh

http://www.mphrc.nic.in/Content/complaint.aspx

 

Maharashtra

http://www.mshrc.gov.in/Content.aspx?ID=675

 

Manipur

 

 

Meghalaya

 

 

Mizoram

 

 

Nagaland

 

 

Odisha

http://as1.ori.nic.in/ohrc/orch_complain.aspx

 

Punjab

http://pshrc.net/index.php/complaint-format/

 

Puducherry

 

 

Rajasthan

http://www.rshrc.rajasthan.gov.in/includes/Complaint-Registration-Form-English-new.pdf

http://police.rajasthan.gov.in/PoliceContacts.aspx

Sikkim

http://sshrc.nic.in/contactus.html

 

Tamil Nadu

http://www.shrc.tn.nic.in/

 

Telangana

 

 

Tripura

Contact details available here: http://nhrc.nic.in/shrc.htm

http://tpac.nic.in/

Uttar Pradesh

http://uphrc.up.nic.in/pdf/Contact_List.pdf

 

Uttarakhand

http://www.ukhrc.net/index.php/online-complaint-registration-form

 

West Bengal

http://wbhrc.nic.in

 

 

Magistrate Complaint
From the point of view of a victim

You can make a 'private complaint' to a Magistrate for any crime. It is advisable to have a lawyer for this process. The Magistrate will question the person filing the complaint and any witnesses.  It is best to file the complaint with whatever supporting material you have for your case.

Usually, the Magistrate in whose area the crime is committed will hear the case. If the crime is committed in one area, but the effects are felt in another area, both Magistrates can hear the case. For example, if Hari is shot in Gurgaon, but dies in Delhi on his way to the hospital, Magistrates in both Delhi and Gurgaon can hear the case.

If the Magistrate you have gone to does not have the power to hear the case, she can refer you to the correct Magistrate after endorsing the complaint.

After questioning the complainant, the Magistrate can do one of three things:

The Magistrate usually has the choice to do any of these things. Only if a case is very serious, and has to be heard in a Sessions Court, then she is bound to conduct the inquiry herself - she cannot direct the police . Such cases usually have punishment of seven years or higher, such as murder or rape.

The Magistrate can order an inquiry if she thinks there something more can be found out about the case. This inquiry can be done by the police or by the Magistrate herself. If the Magistrate has called on the police, the police will investigate and file a report before the Magistrate. This report is not a 'charge-sheet'. The police may support your case or file a report saying no offence was committed.

The Magistrate will then hear the complainant after the questioning and inquiry parts are done. The accused is not present yet. The purpose of this hearing is to decide whether the case should proceed to summon the accused to court. If the court thinks there is no reason to proceed further, the complaint will be dismissed.

You can make a 'private complaint' to a Magistrate for any crime. It is advisable to have a lawyer for this process. The Magistrate will question the person filing the complaint and any witnesses.  It is best to file the complaint with whatever supporting material you have for your case.

Usually, the Magistrate in whose area the crime is committed will hear the case. If the crime is committed in one area, but the effects are felt in another area, both Magistrates can hear the case. For example, if Hari is shot in Gurgaon, but dies in Delhi on his way to the hospital, Magistrates in both Delhi and Gurgaon can hear the case.

If the Magistrate you have gone to does not have the power to hear the case, she can refer you to the correct Magistrate after endorsing the complaint.

After questioning the complainant, the Magistrate can do one of three things:

The Magistrate usually has the choice to do any of these things. Only if a case is very serious, and has to be heard in a Sessions Court, then she is bound to conduct the inquiry herself - she cannot direct the police . Such cases usually have punishment of seven years or higher, such as murder or rape.

The Magistrate can order an inquiry if she thinks there something more can be found out about the case. This inquiry can be done by the police or by the Magistrate herself. If the Magistrate has called on the police, the police will investigate and file a report before the Magistrate. This report is not a 'charge-sheet'. The police may support your case or file a report saying no offence was committed.

The Magistrate will then hear the complainant after the questioning and inquiry parts are done. The accused is not present yet. The purpose of this hearing is to decide whether the case should proceed to summon the accused to court. If the court thinks there is no reason to proceed further, the complaint will be dismissed.

Police Case
From the point of view of a victim

When a cognizable offence is committed, investigation can begin immediately after the police receive information about the crime. The police can start investigation even without an FIR, if they come to know a crime has taken place.

Before starting an investigation though, the police have to send a report, with the FIR, to the Magistrate to keep him informed.

No. If the police feel that there is not enough reason to carry on an investigation, they can stop it. However, if they close a case without investigating, the police have to report this with reasons to the Magistrate, as well as to the person who filed the FIR. At that point you have a chance of opposing the closure by filing an application before the Magistrate.

The police can do various things during an investigation:

  • visit the scene of crime,
  • search people and seize items,
  • question people,
  • organise post-mortems.

The police can search any place if necessary for the investigation. Usually they need a warrant, which is permission from the court to conduct a search. The police can conduct a search without a warrant if:

The police can order you to come to the police station and answer questions.  However, if you are:

  • a woman, or
  • a man below 15 or over 65 years old, or
  • a person with mental or physical disabilities

then the police cannot order you to go anywhere - they have to question you in your home.

Remember, always try and create proof that you met the police during an investigation. If the police send you a notice, do not destroy it. Similarly, try and submit a letter when you go to the police station and take an acknowledgment on a copy. This prevents them from making an about-turn later and distorting the truth.

The police can question you if they believe you know something about a crime. You have a duty to answer truthfully. However, if there is any question about whether you are guilty of a crime, you have the right to stay silent.

The police can write down whatever you say to them, or also make a recording. The police cannot threaten you or trick you into making statements.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the law that forces the police to update you about the case. However, once the investigation is over, the police is supposed to let the person who filed the FIR know what action was taken in the case (for e.g., whether a chargesheet was filed). Many police websites offer the possibility of tracking the status of your FIR online through a Complaint Tracking System or a CCTNS. While it may not always be updated, you can try checking the website of your local or state police to see if they offer this service.

Once the police have completed their investigation, they are supposed to send a report to the Magistrate, called a Final Report. Two situations can happen:

  • The police have enough evidence against an accused person or persons: In such cases, the police will file a final report with the Magistrate called the 'challan' or 'chargesheet', with all the details and evidence of the crime that the accused person is said to have committed. The accused person, who is in custody of the police, will be sent to the Magistrate for his trial.
  • The police file a 'closure'. This means the police thinks the court should not proceed to trial. It could be because the police think no crime was committed or it couldn't find enough material during investigation against an accused. If the accused is in custody, then she will be released after executing a bond.  In this case, a notice will be sent to the person who lodged the FIR. You can choose to oppose the view of the police by filing a 'Protest Petition'.

The law guarantees that the police cannot force any victim or witness to go to court when the chargesheet is being filed. However, the police can order you, as a victim or witness to sign a bond before the Magistrate promising to appear in court to give evidence.

When a cognizable offence is committed, investigation can begin immediately after the police receive information about the crime. The police can start investigation even without an FIR, if they come to know a crime has taken place.

Before starting an investigation though, the police have to send a report, with the FIR, to the Magistrate to keep him informed.

No. If the police feel that there is not enough reason to carry on an investigation, they can stop it. However, if they close a case without investigating, the police have to report this with reasons to the Magistrate, as well as to the person who filed the FIR. At that point you have a chance of opposing the closure by filing an application before the Magistrate.

The police can do various things during an investigation:

  • visit the scene of crime,
  • search people and seize items,
  • question people,
  • organise post-mortems.

The police can search any place if necessary for the investigation. Usually they need a warrant, which is permission from the court to conduct a search. The police can conduct a search without a warrant if:

The police can order you to come to the police station and answer questions.  However, if you are:

  • a woman, or
  • a man below 15 or over 65 years old, or
  • a person with mental or physical disabilities

then the police cannot order you to go anywhere - they have to question you in your home.

Remember, always try and create proof that you met the police during an investigation. If the police send you a notice, do not destroy it. Similarly, try and submit a letter when you go to the police station and take an acknowledgment on a copy. This prevents them from making an about-turn later and distorting the truth.

The police can question you if they believe you know something about a crime. You have a duty to answer truthfully. However, if there is any question about whether you are guilty of a crime, you have the right to stay silent.

The police can write down whatever you say to them, or also make a recording. The police cannot threaten you or trick you into making statements.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the law that forces the police to update you about the case. However, once the investigation is over, the police is supposed to let the person who filed the FIR know what action was taken in the case (for e.g., whether a chargesheet was filed). Many police websites offer the possibility of tracking the status of your FIR online through a Complaint Tracking System or a CCTNS. While it may not always be updated, you can try checking the website of your local or state police to see if they offer this service.

Once the police have completed their investigation, they are supposed to send a report to the Magistrate, called a Final Report. Two situations can happen:

  • The police have enough evidence against an accused person or persons: In such cases, the police will file a final report with the Magistrate called the 'challan' or 'chargesheet', with all the details and evidence of the crime that the accused person is said to have committed. The accused person, who is in custody of the police, will be sent to the Magistrate for his trial.
  • The police file a 'closure'. This means the police thinks the court should not proceed to trial. It could be because the police think no crime was committed or it couldn't find enough material during investigation against an accused. If the accused is in custody, then she will be released after executing a bond.  In this case, a notice will be sent to the person who lodged the FIR. You can choose to oppose the view of the police by filing a 'Protest Petition'.

The law guarantees that the police cannot force any victim or witness to go to court when the chargesheet is being filed. However, the police can order you, as a victim or witness to sign a bond before the Magistrate promising to appear in court to give evidence.

Trial
From the point of view of a victim

Trial means the stage when the court hears witnesses and records evidence. The case must go through a lot of background work before the trial begins. Typically, all of the following must happen before the case moves to 'trial':

  • The Magistrate must take 'cognizance' of the offence. This simply means that the court recognizes that a crime has occurred. To do so, the Magistrate must be presented with a 'charge-sheet', a private complaint, or have personal knowledge about the crime. She can take cognizance of most types of crimes, there are a few exceptions  mentioned in the law.
  • The Magistrate calls the accused to appear before court, formally called 'issuing process'.  If the case is a private complaint, the complainant has to file a small court fee to issue process and provide an extra copy of the complaint which is sent to the accused.
  • In a police case, the Magistrate must now give the accused copies of all documents the police filed.
  • The Magistrate then decides which court should hear the case. She 'commits' the case to that court by sending all the material. This usually depends on the seriousness of the crime.  The most serious crimes, usually with a punishment of seven years or more, is tried by a court called the 'Court of Sessions' or 'Sessions Court'.
  • Once the case is in the right court, the first thing that happens is that the accused person is told exactly what she is accused of. This is called 'framing of charges'. If the judge believes that there is not enough reason to have a trial, she can 'discharge' the accused person.  Before that, she must listen to the lawyers from both sides.
  • If charges are framed, the court must ask the accused whether she pleads 'guilty'. If the accused says she is not guilty, only then does the case move to trial.
  • The prosecution lawyers first have to show proof that the accused person is the culprit. Remember, every person is presumed innocent, and so the law demands the case against an accused be satisfactorily proved (the words 'beyond reasonable doubt' are used). To prove this, they can question witnesses and submit other evidence like documents or objects to the judge.
  • The defence lawyer can 'cross-examine' witnesses, which means he can ask questions to the prosecution's witness to try and show that the witness is not reliable.
  • After the prosecution has finished, in serious cases involving 7 years or more punishment, the court questions the accused person directly.  At this stage, the court can decide that there is not enough proof against him, and let him go. Or, the trial can go on.
  • If the trial goes on, the defence will have to present their case, including witnesses and other evidence. The defence's witnesses too can be cross-examined by the prosecution.
  • Once both sides have fully argued, the court gives its judgment, deciding whether the accused person is guilty i.e. convicted or not guilty i.e. acquitted of the crimes he has been accused of.
  • If the court finds the accused person guilty, there is a process to decide how much punishment he should get. This is called sentencing.

The law unfortunately does not recognise too many rights of victims. If the government has taken over the case and it is being tried by a Public Prosecutor, your rights are limited. They are:

  • For less serious offences, you can either compound or withdraw the case at any time before the final sentence or punishment is given. For most crimes that are punishable with less than two years, if you made the complaint before a Magistrate and you do not continue to appear in court, the case will be stopped.
  • Let's say that you are a victim of a crime, and bail has been granted to the accused person. Through your lawyer, you can go to a higher court to ask for cancellation of the bail.
  • You can appoint a private lawyer,  even when the Government is prosecuting the case. If a case is before a Sessions Court, you can only 'assist' the Public Prosecutor. In all other trials, you can have equal standing, if you file an application explaining why you want to fight the case and not leave it to the prosecutor.
  • Under some situations,  you have the right to get legal aid even as a victim.

If you yourself are following up on a private complaint , your lawyer will have to argue the case fully.

This is unfortunately a very common occurrence in India, and there is no law yet for the protection of witnesses to a crime. Some of the remedies available in law are:

  • You can ask the judge to hold the trial in closed quarters, or move the trial to a safer location
  • You can approach a superior court through your lawyers to move the trial to another place or State.
  • You can file an application for cancellation of bail of the accused, if bail had been granted at an earlier stage.

The law says a trial should proceed daily  but this rarely happens. Trials can take anywhere between 2 to 10 years, depending on many factors. There are some laws where time-limits have been created to complete the trial - for example, cheque-bouncing offences under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881.

Normally the government will appeal to a higher court. However, through your lawyer you can also approach the higher court, and ask for permission to appeal against this decision of the first court. If the higher court gives permission, you can present arguments to show why it should hear the case.

Trial means the stage when the court hears witnesses and records evidence. The case must go through a lot of background work before the trial begins. Typically, all of the following must happen before the case moves to 'trial':

  • The Magistrate must take 'cognizance' of the offence. This simply means that the court recognizes that a crime has occurred. To do so, the Magistrate must be presented with a 'charge-sheet', a private complaint, or have personal knowledge about the crime. She can take cognizance of most types of crimes, there are a few exceptions  mentioned in the law.
  • The Magistrate calls the accused to appear before court, formally called 'issuing process'.  If the case is a private complaint, the complainant has to file a small court fee to issue process and provide an extra copy of the complaint which is sent to the accused.
  • In a police case, the Magistrate must now give the accused copies of all documents the police filed.
  • The Magistrate then decides which court should hear the case. She 'commits' the case to that court by sending all the material. This usually depends on the seriousness of the crime.  The most serious crimes, usually with a punishment of seven years or more, is tried by a court called the 'Court of Sessions' or 'Sessions Court'.
  • Once the case is in the right court, the first thing that happens is that the accused person is told exactly what she is accused of. This is called 'framing of charges'. If the judge believes that there is not enough reason to have a trial, she can 'discharge' the accused person.  Before that, she must listen to the lawyers from both sides.
  • If charges are framed, the court must ask the accused whether she pleads 'guilty'. If the accused says she is not guilty, only then does the case move to trial.
  • The prosecution lawyers first have to show proof that the accused person is the culprit. Remember, every person is presumed innocent, and so the law demands the case against an accused be satisfactorily proved (the words 'beyond reasonable doubt' are used). To prove this, they can question witnesses and submit other evidence like documents or objects to the judge.
  • The defence lawyer can 'cross-examine' witnesses, which means he can ask questions to the prosecution's witness to try and show that the witness is not reliable.
  • After the prosecution has finished, in serious cases involving 7 years or more punishment, the court questions the accused person directly.  At this stage, the court can decide that there is not enough proof against him, and let him go. Or, the trial can go on.
  • If the trial goes on, the defence will have to present their case, including witnesses and other evidence. The defence's witnesses too can be cross-examined by the prosecution.
  • Once both sides have fully argued, the court gives its judgment, deciding whether the accused person is guilty i.e. convicted or not guilty i.e. acquitted of the crimes he has been accused of.
  • If the court finds the accused person guilty, there is a process to decide how much punishment he should get. This is called sentencing.

The law unfortunately does not recognise too many rights of victims. If the government has taken over the case and it is being tried by a Public Prosecutor, your rights are limited. They are:

  • For less serious offences, you can either compound or withdraw the case at any time before the final sentence or punishment is given. For most crimes that are punishable with less than two years, if you made the complaint before a Magistrate and you do not continue to appear in court, the case will be stopped.
  • Let's say that you are a victim of a crime, and bail has been granted to the accused person. Through your lawyer, you can go to a higher court to ask for cancellation of the bail.
  • You can appoint a private lawyer,  even when the Government is prosecuting the case. If a case is before a Sessions Court, you can only 'assist' the Public Prosecutor. In all other trials, you can have equal standing, if you file an application explaining why you want to fight the case and not leave it to the prosecutor.
  • Under some situations,  you have the right to get legal aid even as a victim.

If you yourself are following up on a private complaint , your lawyer will have to argue the case fully.

This is unfortunately a very common occurrence in India, and there is no law yet for the protection of witnesses to a crime. Some of the remedies available in law are:

  • You can ask the judge to hold the trial in closed quarters, or move the trial to a safer location
  • You can approach a superior court through your lawyers to move the trial to another place or State.
  • You can file an application for cancellation of bail of the accused, if bail had been granted at an earlier stage.

The law says a trial should proceed daily  but this rarely happens. Trials can take anywhere between 2 to 10 years, depending on many factors. There are some laws where time-limits have been created to complete the trial - for example, cheque-bouncing offences under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881.

Normally the government will appeal to a higher court. However, through your lawyer you can also approach the higher court, and ask for permission to appeal against this decision of the first court. If the higher court gives permission, you can present arguments to show why it should hear the case.

Compensation
From the point of view of a victim

You can get compensation in three ways:

  • From the guilty person

    • If the accused person is found guilty, the court may grant you compensation for the harm caused to you. The money will come from the fine that the guilty person pays. If she has not been fined, the court can still order her to directly pay compensation to you. However, this will only be paid out once all appeals are over and the case is finalised.
  • From the Government

    • In addition, the law says that each State Government has to create a scheme for victim compensation. This is a list of all schemes relating to victim compensation by State Governments in India. You can get this compensation even if the accused person is found not guilty.
  • In special cases

    • In some cases, the court directly orders compensation, because it has wide powers, such as in cases involving domestic workers or people forced into labour. Some laws, like for car accidents and caste atrocities,  also have special measures mandating the payment of compensation to victims.

If the court is ordering compensation to be paid by the guilty person, it will look at two things –

  • the amount of loss you suffered,
  • the financial ability of the guilty person to pay.

If the government is paying compensation, it has announced different maximum amounts for different crimes. For certain crimes like rape, acid attacks, death or disability, the amounts offered by different state governments were very different. Now the Central Government has introduced a minimum threshold amount. For states to get assistance on victim compensation from the Centre, it must keep in line with these minimum amounts.

You can get compensation in three ways:

  • From the guilty person

    • If the accused person is found guilty, the court may grant you compensation for the harm caused to you. The money will come from the fine that the guilty person pays. If she has not been fined, the court can still order her to directly pay compensation to you. However, this will only be paid out once all appeals are over and the case is finalised.
  • From the Government

    • In addition, the law says that each State Government has to create a scheme for victim compensation. This is a list of all schemes relating to victim compensation by State Governments in India. You can get this compensation even if the accused person is found not guilty.
  • In special cases

    • In some cases, the court directly orders compensation, because it has wide powers, such as in cases involving domestic workers or people forced into labour. Some laws, like for car accidents and caste atrocities,  also have special measures mandating the payment of compensation to victims.

If the court is ordering compensation to be paid by the guilty person, it will look at two things –

  • the amount of loss you suffered,
  • the financial ability of the guilty person to pay.

If the government is paying compensation, it has announced different maximum amounts for different crimes. For certain crimes like rape, acid attacks, death or disability, the amounts offered by different state governments were very different. Now the Central Government has introduced a minimum threshold amount. For states to get assistance on victim compensation from the Centre, it must keep in line with these minimum amounts.

Special measures for women
From the point of view of a victim

You can choose to get medical assistance first. The Supreme Court has said that a rape survivor's needs are a 'medico-legal emergency', and it is her right to get medical help.

An FIR can be registered by anyone on behalf of the victim. The law says that if someone has been raped, the police will record her statement only at her house, or at a place that she chooses. So you can request the police to come to your location to record your information. The police must make sure a woman police officer records the statement, and that some family member or social worker is present there. In general, a woman cannot be forced to go to a police station to give her statement.

If the survivor of such a crime is mentally or physically disabled, then the police have to make sure they record her statement in a place of her choice. They also have to ensure that any special help that is needed is available.

If a police officer refuses to register a crime of this nature i.e. rape, acid attacks etc., in some cases he can be punished for anywhere between 6 months and 2 years.

If the crime has been committed against a child, anyone who has knowledge of this has a duty to report it - either to the police or to the Special Juvenile Police Unit. Hiding this information is also a crime. Investigation into the rape of a child has to be completed by the police within 3 months .

As soon as the police hear about such a crime, a Magistrate is also supposed to record the statement of the survivor. So it is important to make sure that a Magistrate hears and records the events as well.

First, the law says that if you are the victim of an acid attack or rape, you have the right to get free first aid from any government or private hospital. If a hospital refuses treatment, the person in charge can be punished by up to 1 year in prison. The hospital is also supposed to immediately inform the police of the crime.

Second, the medical examination of the survivor is supposed to happen within 24 hours of the filing of the FIR. However, it can only happen with the consent of the survivor. The doctor who examines the survivor is supposed to make a report with full details and conclusions, and also record the exact time at which the medical examination started and was completed. Recently, updated guidelines have been issued to hospitals on the way to conduct medical examination of survivors.

This medical report is supposed to be sent to the police officer conducting the investigation. The officer is then supposed to send it to the Magistrate immediately.

If the crime has been committed against a child: If the child is less than 12 years old, the child's parents or guardian can give consent to medical examination. Between the ages of 12 and 15, a doctor can decide whether the child is mature enough to give consent.

As far as possible, trials in rape cases are supposed to be held without any public in the court room (in camera). Also, as far as possible a woman judge is to be preferred.

The survivor will probably have to appear in court to give evidence. She does not need a lawyer, but can get one to help the government lawyer, with the court's permission.

Legally, the court is supposed to assume that in certain cases of rape, the survivor did not consent. It will be up to the accused person's lawyer to prove, if he can, that the survivor actually consented.

In cases of rape or sexual harassment, the previous sexual experiences of the survivor cannot be brought up in court in order to argue whether she consented or not.

Find out more about the rights of victims in trials here.

Trials involving the crime of rape are now supposed to be completed within 2 months.  However, this rule is often not followed in reality.

You can choose to get medical assistance first. The Supreme Court has said that a rape survivor's needs are a 'medico-legal emergency', and it is her right to get medical help.

An FIR can be registered by anyone on behalf of the victim. The law says that if someone has been raped, the police will record her statement only at her house, or at a place that she chooses. So you can request the police to come to your location to record your information. The police must make sure a woman police officer records the statement, and that some family member or social worker is present there. In general, a woman cannot be forced to go to a police station to give her statement.

If the survivor of such a crime is mentally or physically disabled, then the police have to make sure they record her statement in a place of her choice. They also have to ensure that any special help that is needed is available.

If a police officer refuses to register a crime of this nature i.e. rape, acid attacks etc., in some cases he can be punished for anywhere between 6 months and 2 years.

If the crime has been committed against a child, anyone who has knowledge of this has a duty to report it - either to the police or to the Special Juvenile Police Unit. Hiding this information is also a crime. Investigation into the rape of a child has to be completed by the police within 3 months .

As soon as the police hear about such a crime, a Magistrate is also supposed to record the statement of the survivor. So it is important to make sure that a Magistrate hears and records the events as well.

First, the law says that if you are the victim of an acid attack or rape, you have the right to get free first aid from any government or private hospital. If a hospital refuses treatment, the person in charge can be punished by up to 1 year in prison. The hospital is also supposed to immediately inform the police of the crime.

Second, the medical examination of the survivor is supposed to happen within 24 hours of the filing of the FIR. However, it can only happen with the consent of the survivor. The doctor who examines the survivor is supposed to make a report with full details and conclusions, and also record the exact time at which the medical examination started and was completed. Recently, updated guidelines have been issued to hospitals on the way to conduct medical examination of survivors.

This medical report is supposed to be sent to the police officer conducting the investigation. The officer is then supposed to send it to the Magistrate immediately.

If the crime has been committed against a child: If the child is less than 12 years old, the child's parents or guardian can give consent to medical examination. Between the ages of 12 and 15, a doctor can decide whether the child is mature enough to give consent.

As far as possible, trials in rape cases are supposed to be held without any public in the court room (in camera). Also, as far as possible a woman judge is to be preferred.

The survivor will probably have to appear in court to give evidence. She does not need a lawyer, but can get one to help the government lawyer, with the court's permission.

Legally, the court is supposed to assume that in certain cases of rape, the survivor did not consent. It will be up to the accused person's lawyer to prove, if he can, that the survivor actually consented.

In cases of rape or sexual harassment, the previous sexual experiences of the survivor cannot be brought up in court in order to argue whether she consented or not.

Find out more about the rights of victims in trials here.

Trials involving the crime of rape are now supposed to be completed within 2 months.  However, this rule is often not followed in reality.

Settling Crimes
From the point of view of a victim

Yes, depending on the crime. The law allows you to settle certain types of crimes - these crimes are generally private in nature and not serious in comparison to other crimes. Generally, if you as the victim, and the accused reach a settlement, the crime can be compounded.

If the crime is not in the list under the Criminal Procedure Code, it is considered 'non-compoundable'. The same rule applies to crimes under laws other than the Indian Penal Code. Generally, these special crimes are not compoundable unless that law expressly says that it is.

Even if the crime is 'non-compoundable', in some situations the High Court can close the case, at any stage. This is called 'quashing' . For example, if you have reached an agreement with the accused person on a non-compoundable crime, the High Court can consider whether to quash or not. It is more likely to be allowed in matrimonial or property disputes. It will usually not be allowed in more serious crimes such as robbery, murder, rape etc.

Generally, it is the victim of the crime who can initiate settlement. The list provided in the Criminal Procedure Code specifies who can compound the crime. Of these crimes, some can be settled only with the permission of the judge before whom the trial of the crime is pending.

For compoundable crimes, the crime can be settled at any time during the trial before the sentence is decided.

Generally no, the second crime cannot be settled in such situations.

Yes, depending on the crime. The law allows you to settle certain types of crimes - these crimes are generally private in nature and not serious in comparison to other crimes. Generally, if you as the victim, and the accused reach a settlement, the crime can be compounded.

If the crime is not in the list under the Criminal Procedure Code, it is considered 'non-compoundable'. The same rule applies to crimes under laws other than the Indian Penal Code. Generally, these special crimes are not compoundable unless that law expressly says that it is.

Even if the crime is 'non-compoundable', in some situations the High Court can close the case, at any stage. This is called 'quashing' . For example, if you have reached an agreement with the accused person on a non-compoundable crime, the High Court can consider whether to quash or not. It is more likely to be allowed in matrimonial or property disputes. It will usually not be allowed in more serious crimes such as robbery, murder, rape etc.

Generally, it is the victim of the crime who can initiate settlement. The list provided in the Criminal Procedure Code specifies who can compound the crime. Of these crimes, some can be settled only with the permission of the judge before whom the trial of the crime is pending.

For compoundable crimes, the crime can be settled at any time during the trial before the sentence is decided.

Generally no, the second crime cannot be settled in such situations.