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Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)

Section 200 CrPC: Examination of complainant

A Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint shall examine upon oath the complainant and the witnesses present, if any, and the substance of such examination shall be reduced to writing and shall be signed by the complainant and the witnesses, and also by the Magistrate;

Provided that, when the complaint is made in writing, the Magistrate need not examine the complainant and the witnesses,

  1. if a public servant acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duties or a Court has made the complaint; or
  2. if the Magistrate makes over the case for inquiry or trial to another Magistrate under section 192;

Provided further that if the Magistrate makes over the case to another Magistrate under section 192 after examining the complainant and the witnesses, the latter Magistrate need not re-examine them.

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Examination of the complainant under section 200 crpc

When you file a complaint under section 200 of the code of criminal procedure the magistrate will examine the complainant immediately after taking cognizance. The magistrate cannot examine the complainant before taking the cognizance under section 190(1)(a) of crpc. After taking the cognizance over the complaint the magistrate shall take the signature of the complainant.

The purpose behind the examination of the complainant is to eliminate false and frivolous complaint. If the complaint is false then:

  • The court may initiate criminal proceeding against the component of all such a false and frivolous complaint.
  • The accused can also initiate a civil proceeding for damages.

When the magistrate cannot examine the complainant?

According to Section 200 of the code of criminal procedure, the magistrate cannot examine the complainant in these circumstances.

  • When the court has made the complaint.
  • If the component is a public servant acting for reporting to act in the discharge of his official duty.
  • If the magistrate makes over the case for enquiry or try to another magistrate under section 192 crpc.

What to do if magistrate takes cognizance without examination of the complainant?

Examination of the complainant is mandatory under section 200 crpc. Taking cognizance without examination of the complainant does not vitiate the trial if

  • The complaint prima facie shows that offence has committed.
  • It does not culminate the failure of Justice.

In both conditions, the irregularity of the magistrate may be cured under section 465 of the code of criminal procedure. According to Section 465 crpc, no finding sentence or order shall be reversed on account of any error or irregularity, unless in the opinion of that court, the failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby.

If the court thinks that non-examination of the complainant, inculcate failure of justice then cognizance on that complaint becomes illegal. The high court can also quash the proceeding initiated on that complaint under Section 482 of the code of criminal procedure.

What step can magistrate take?

When the magistrate receives a complaint under section 200 crpc he has several options. He is not bound to take cognizance on the complaint. He shall exercise his judicious mind and take any of these options:

Dismiss the complaint: if the magistrate finds that complaint does not show any offence then he can dismiss the complaint under section 203 crpc. The magistrate can take cognizance if there is sufficient ground to issue process against the accused. A magistrate can issue a process if the complaint prima facie proves that an offence has been committed.

Take cognizance and issue process: the magistrate can take cognizance if he satisfied after examination of the complainant that offence has been committed by the accused. Thereafter he shall issue a summon or warrant against the accused under section 204 crpc.

Direct investigation under section 156(3) crpc: if the magistrate does not take cognizance on the complaint then he can direct the police officer to conduct the investigation. The police officer, after the investigation, will submit a report under section 173 crpc. Then the magistrate may take cognizance on that police report instead of the complaint.

Conduct preliminary enquiry: the magistrate may postpone the issue of process against the accused and either enquiry into the case himself or direct the police officer to conduct an investigation section 202 crpc. This investigation or enquiry is different than investigation under section 156(3) crpc. The investigation under section 202 is limited to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding.

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