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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Chapter 15 and Chapter 16 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 cover complaints made to the magistrate. 
  • Chapter 15 specifically talks about the scrutiny and registration of complaints to the magistrate. Four sections (200-203) fall under the ambit of this chapter. 
  • Chapter 16 covers the process of conducting proceedings before the magistrate and the rules for the same. Sections 204-210 falls under the ambit of this chapter.

INTRODUCTION

The phrase "complaint" refers to any assertion made before a magistrate, either orally or in writing, according to the code of criminal procedure. It's done without a police report but with the intention of initiating action under this Code against some person, known or unknown, who has committed an offence.

In India, the magistrate has extensive authority to oversee criminal cases. The complaint cannot be dismissed under Section 203 when an accused is ordered to appear before the Magistrate pursuant to the 16th chapter. This chapter answers a number of queries, including how the inquiry should be conducted, how copies of statements and documents should be provided, and how the complaint process should be carried out.

In general, "cognizance" is defined as "knowledge or notice," while "taking cognizance of offences" is defined as "taking cognizance of the alleged commission of an offence." The definition of cognizance in the dictionary is "judicial hearing of a subject." Before beginning to conduct the trial, the judicial officer must take cognizance of the offence. Taking cognizance does not entail any formal actions; rather, it happens as soon as a magistrate applies his or her judgement to the alleged commission of an offence in order to initiate legal action. Therefore, taking cognizance is referred to as applying the judicial mind.

A magistrate cannot be deemed to have taken cognizance of an offence if he makes a decision not for the reasons listed above but for another type of action, such as ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) or issuing a search warrant for the purpose of an investigation.

CHAPTER 15 SECTION 20O OF THE CODE

This Section talks about the examination of the filed complaint by the magistrate. The complainant and any present witnesses must be questioned by the magistrate after taking notice of the offence. This test must be administered under oath. Additionally, it is the magistrate's responsibility to record any pertinent data discovered during this investigation. The complainant and the witnesses must both sign a written statement outlining the findings of such an examination.

If a public employee submits the complaint while acting or purporting to act in the course of his official duties, or if the magistrate gives the case to another magistrate for investigation or trial under Section 192, the magistrate is not required to undertake this examination. The second magistrate does not need to reexamine the cases if the first magistrate has already reviewed them and has given the matter to them for investigation or trial.

CHAPTER 15 SECTION 202 OF THE CODE

Section 202 allows for additional investigation of the complainant. If the Magistrate determines that more inquiry is required, the process may be delayed. Whether there is a legitimate basis for conducting the procedure will be determined by the Magistrate. The investigation under this section is only allowed to determine whether the allegations mentioned in the complaint are true or not.

SECTION 203 AND 204 OF THE CODE

The Magistrate has the authority to dismiss a complaint under Section 203. If the Magistrate believes there are insufficient reasons to proceed with the proceedings, he may dismiss the case. The Magistrate reaches this decision after carrying out a suitable inquiry or investigation in accordance with Section 202. In accordance with Section 204, the Magistrate may also reject the complaint if the processing fee was not paid in a timely manner. Section 204 also talks about the issuance of summons and warrants.

It was stated in the case of Chimanlal v. Datar Singh [1998 CriLJ 267]that if the Magistrate had neglected to question a crucial witness in accordance with Section 202, the complaint should not have been dismissed.

If, after reducing the complaint to writing in accordance with Section 200, the Magistrate determines that no offence has been committed; if the Magistrate disbelieves the statements made by the complainant; or if the Magistrate determines that additional investigation is necessary, he may refuse to issue the process.

SECTION 205 OF THE CODE

In certain circumstances, Section 205 gives the Magistrate the authority to waive the accused person's personal appearance. If there are good grounds, the magistrate may waive the accused's personal appearance and allow him to appear through his pleader. If necessary, the Magistrate may also order the accused to personally appear at any point throughout the investigation. The court has complete discretion over the matter after applying pertinent judicial principles, and the exemption from personal attendance cannot be asserted as a right. The Magistrate takes into account a number of considerations while allocating attendance, such as social status,  practises and customs,  the distance from the accused's home, the requirement for personal attendance with reference to the crime and the trial's phases.

DOCUMENTS TO BE SUPPLIED TO THE ACCUSED

It is crucial to provide the accused with pertinent documentation so they can comprehend the process that was used and the current state of the case. The provided documents may potentially be consulted in the future as needed. In order to avoid bias during the trial, such records must be provided. It is possible to successfully apply Section 207's provision about the Magistrate's non-supply of materials to have a conviction overturned.

When proceedings are started based on a police complaint, the Section mandates that the Magistrate give the accused individual specific copies of particular documents. The documents must be given away without charge. The police report, the First Information Report (FIR) that is recorded under Section 154, the statements that are recorded under Subsection (3) of Section 161 of all persons that the prosecution seeks to interrogate as its witnesses, and other pertinent documents must be given.If available, the confessions and declarations that are noted under Section 164; any more pertinent documentation that is sent to the magistrate along with the police report.

In the case of Viniyoga International New Delhi v. State [LAWS(DLH)-1984-6-13], it was decided that the accused had the right to obtain copies of any statements recorded in accordance with Section 161 as well as any documents the prosecution intended to rely on. Additionally, it was stated that giving copies of the challan to the accused was required. This section solely discusses how to provide statements from the people who were examined; it does not address what to do when some of the witnesses are not cross-examined.

SECTION 208, 209, 210 IN BRIEF

When the crime can only be tried by the Court of Session, as per Section 208, the court must give specific documents to the accused.

The commitment of the case to the Court of Session is addressed in Section 209.

The processes to be followed when cases founded on both a police report and a complaint are covered in Section 210. If a police officer is investigating the same matter as a trial or inquiry, the Magistrate has the authority to halt the proceedings and request a report from the investigator. If the police report is unrelated to any of the accused in the case or if the magistrate declines to find an offence in the police report, he must resume the investigation or trial he stayed in accordance with other code requirements. The Magistrate shall inquire into or try the complaint case and the case arising out of the police report jointly as if both the cases were instituted on the basis of a police report if a report is made by the investigating police officer in accordance with Section 173 and on the basis of such report, the Magistrate takes cognizance of any offence against any person who is accused.

CONCLUSION

As they deal with the beginning of proceedings, Chapters 15 and 16 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are crucial. To appropriately govern the other stages of the proceedings, the provisions in these chapters must be adhered to. One of the crucial steps in conducting a criminal investigation is the issue of proceedings. It is also important to provide the accused with copies of any papers related to the proceedings. As a result, it is important to closely adhere to the rules set forth in these chapters in order to prevent interference with other aspects of the proceedings.

Learn the practical aspects of CrPC HERE, CPC HERE, IPC HERE, Evidence Act HERE, Family Laws HERE, DV Act HERE


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