Filing complaint against police

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In the year 2006 Supreme Court ordered that every state and district should have an independent authority to handle citizens' complaints against the police. This body, named Police Complaints Authority (PCA) , also known as Police Accountability Commissions, is to be headed by a retired judge and can hold hearings on allegations of police misconduct and atrocities. Its final order would be binding on state governments. Karnataka still does not have a functioning PCA; although the government has - under pressure to comply with the SC order - appointed a head of the Authority. (Read more)

Why do we need Police Complaints Authorities?

In a democracy like India, if any government officer has misbehaved or violated the law, the public has a right to complain about it and get remedial action taken to redress the wrongdoing. In particular, when those who are supposed to uphold the law themselves break it by treating the public in an unlawful or inappropriate manner, the public needs to have an avenue to complain and get prompt redress. 

What can you report to the Police Complaint Authority?

You can complain about any serious misconduct by the police or other cases as well to the state PCA. These may be: Death in police custody; Grievous hurt sustained whilst in custody Rape in police custody Extortion by a police officer; Land/ house grabbing by a police officer Any incident involving serious abuse of authority by a police officer. 

Who can file a complaint?

In most cases, the PCA can enquire into allegations of serious misconduct against the police on its own or when it receives a complaint from: A victim or a person complaining on his behalf; this could be a friend or a family member Any person who has witnessed any misconduct being committed by the police Any other source. These include the police, the National Human Rights Commission or the State Human Rights Commission. 

How do the Police Complaint Authority work?

The Police Complaint Authorities: Are independent of the police; Have their own powers of investigation; An make binding recommendations for action; and Can deal exclusively with complaints of serious misconduct and dereliction of duty by the police. 

How to make a complaint?

Any person can make a complaint on his/her own as there is no need for a lawyer. The person can put the complaint in writing and send it by post or fax or submit it in person. The complaint should be made as soon as possible after the incident. The complaint should be in writing and must include: the name of the complainant, his residential address; and his contact details/ phone numbers. One then needs to write in the complaint: What happened; When it happened; Against whom the complaint is being filed, which includes the name and designation of the police officer; What was said or done; Whether anyone else was there whilst the incident happened (witnesses) and how to contact these witnesses If there was any injury caused or if anything got damaged. Some important and relevant documents which will add weight to the complaint can be attached along with the complaint. These documents can be: Medical report or any certificate issued by a doctor disclosing the nature of injuries; Photographs showing injuries; Any prior complaints lodged before the police or any other forum and evidence which shows that no steps have been taken on these complaints; Proof of daily diary entry (DDE); and Any other evidence If the complaint was hand delivered then keep a copy of the complaint and the papers submitted, as well as a date stamped receipt as a record. For a sample of how to file a complaint, one can refer to Annexure III

What are the alternate mechanisms available in case one is not satisfied with the decision of the Police Complaint Authority and/or if they are a victim of police abuse?

One can file a complaint in the concerned police station and ask for the registration of an FIR. If the police refuse to register it, then the complaint can be sent to the senior officer and to the District SP (DSP). The DSP will order the registration of an FIR. Alternatively, or if the FIR is still not registered, one can approach the nearest magistrate. Even if the direction made by the magistrate does not ask the police to register the case, but only to investigate it, the police have a duty to treat the direction as an FIR. If none of these remedies work, one can file a writ petition in the High Court of his/her state asking it to direct the police to register an FIR. 

Points to remember while making a complaint

Do not complain to more than one Authority at the same time Give the PCA some time to decide on your complaint If you don’t hear anything from them, write to the PCA asking for information about the progress of your case. If you receive no response then you can approach the other allied institutions or even the courts as listed above You can also make use of the Right to Information Act to procure any document which has not been provided to you by the commissions or the PCA or in case of inordinate delay in disposing of the complaint. 

What to do if you are a citizen of Bangalore and want to file a complaint against the police?

Complaints and grievances against local police officers may be lodged by sending an email to If the local police fails in registering or redressing complaints, aggrieved parties may contact the additional director-general of police, Mr. Om Prakash (grievances and human rights). He could be contacted by sending an e-mail to 

Time frame for enquiries

There is no legislative model which provides guidance on setting a time limit for inquiries. There is no time frame set for the conduct of inquiries by Police Complaints Authorities in any state or union territory. (Read more)

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