Is Amendment In Criminal Complaint Permissible Or Not?


The term “Criminal Complaint” applies to the complaint which is criminal in nature. The criminal proceedings are those proceedings, in which the State is involved in additional serious offences. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, is a comprehensive and exhaustive procedural law for conducting a criminal trial in India and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the main punitive law of India, that shall refer to all or any crimes, except as may be provided for under any other law in India. At the very beginning, it might be relevant to say that in a criminal complaint there is limited scope for amendment, as there is no express provision under Indian Law to amend a criminal complaint.


Section 190: Cognizance of offences by Magistrates

  1. Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, any Magistrate of the first class, and any Magistrate of the second class specially empowered in this behalf under sub-section (2), may take cognizance of any offence-
  2. upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence;
  3. upon a police report of such facts;
  4. upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such offence has been committed.
  5. The Chief Judicial Magistrate may empower any Magistrate of the second class to take cognizance under sub-section (1) of such offences as are within his competence to inquire into or try.[1]

Section 200: 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.[2]

Sections 190 and 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) are connected to each other. A complaint which is filed under Section 200 of CrPC is also, in fact, a complaint under Section 190 CrPC though at a different stage of process, but Section 190 Cr.P.C. covers certain other things also. These two sections serve different purposes.

Thus under CrPC, in the case of the private complaint, while the power to take cognizance lies under Section 190 of CrPC, the power to examine the complainant on oath (and, other witnesses, if any) for the purposes of verification of the complaint is laid down in Section 200 of CrPC. Thus, both of these sections are interlinked for the needs of a complaint case. In a complaint case, they account for the various steps or phases. Accordingly, in so far as a complaint case is concerned, both Section 190 as well as Section 200 of CrPC are relevant. Therefore, if it is a complaint disclosing commission of an offence, it does not matter to refer it under Section 190 or Section 200 of CrPC. Ultimately, in respect of a complaint case, both the sections refer to the same “complaint” which is defined under Section 2(d) of CrPC.


Amendment in Criminal Complaint is permissible where Court is yet to take cognizance of the offence complained. A Magistrate considers an offense when he wants to proceed against the accused person for having committed the offense and not when the Magistrate is told either by the defendant by filing the complaint or by the police report about the commission of an offense. Therefore, “Cognizance” refers to the Magistrate’s appeal to the judiciary in reference to the offence and not merely to a Magistrate learning that some offence was committed.

However, in a case of S.R. Sukumar v. S. Sunaad Raghuram (Criminal Appeal No. 844 of 2015)[3], the Supreme Court has ruled that if the amendment sought in the complaint relates to a simple infirmity which is curable by means of a formal amendment and no prejudice shall be caused to the opposing party by allowing such amendment, the Court may then allow the complaint to be amended. The Apex Court also noted that if the complaint amendment springs up a new cause of action that can be put on trial by filing a separate complaint, then to avoid multiplicity of proceedings the Trial Court may allow the amendment application.

In the case, the Supreme Court also explained the circumstances where it might be permissible to amend the criminal complaint:

  1. Magistrate is yet to take cognizance of the offence complained means amendment in a criminal complaint cannot be allowed at a later stage.
  2. Summons has not been issued to the accused i.e. no prejudice has been caused to the other party.
  3. Amendment does not alter the original character of the complaint.


1. Kunapareddy @ Nookala Shanka Balaji V. Kunapareddy Swarna Kumari

The reasoning of S.R. Sukumar v. S. Sunaad Raghuram’s case[4] was also applied by the Supreme Court in this case wherein the Court held that a complaint or petition under Domestic Violence Act can also be amended. Rejecting the contention that there is no provision in the CrPC that permits amendment, the court held:

“What we are emphasizing is that even in criminal cases governed by the Code; the Court is not powerless and may allow amendment in appropriate cases. One of the circumstances in which such an amendment is to be allowed is to avoid the procedural multiplicity. The argument of the learned counsel for the appellant, therefore, that there is no power of amendment has to be negated.”

2. P Pollution Control Board v. Modi Distilleries[5]

In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court discussed the scope of amendment of criminal complaint. Herein, the name of the accused company was wrongly mentioned in the complaint as Modi Distilleries instead of Modi Industries Limited, which was sought to be amended. The Hon’ble Court, considering the same as a curable legal infirmity which could be easily removed by having the matter remitted to the Chief Judicial Magistrate with a direction to call upon the appellant to make the formal amendments to the averments of the complaint. The Court directed for the making of a formal application for amendment by the appellant to amend by substitution. Clearly, as per the Hon’ble Supreme Court, an easily curable legal infirmity in complaint can be permitted to be cured by means of a formal application of amendment.

3. Amol Shripal Sheth v. M/S. Hari Om Trading Co. & Ors.[6]

Considering the fact that a Magistrate takes cognizance of an offence and not the offender under Section 190 CrPC, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court held that where the name of an accused is wrongly mentioned in the complaint, complainant may be permitted to amend his complaint. As per the Hon’ble Court, Magistrate has “incidental and ancillary power” to the main power of taking cognizance of offence to allow such amendment and that power can be exercised before and after taking cognizance of the offence.


It is very important for the victim to file the complaint at a very attentive manner as there is very limited scope in the amendment of the criminal complaint. In the Indian law, there is no provision or procedure available for amendment in the criminal complaint. Also, it is clear that in case the amendment sought to be made to the complaint relates to merely curing a simple infirmity, which results in no prejudice to the accused, the same may be allowed by the Court at any stage of the proceedings. However, where the amendment is not formal in nature and results in causing prejudice to the accused or changes the nature of the complaint or is meant to cure incurable defects, the same must necessarily be disallowed. Further, such an amendment cannot be used as a device to overcome the defects, which are not permissible under law.

[1] Section 190 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 <>,  (Last Visited on June 22, 2020)

[2] Section 200 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 <> (Last Visited on June 22, 2020)

[3] (2015) 9 SCC 609

[4] Ibid.

[5] (1987) 3 SCC 684

[6] (2014) 6 MH LJ 222

This Article is Authored by DEEKSHA SHRIVASTAVA, 2nd Year, BA LLB Student at FIMT College, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.

Also Read – Is Consent of the Husband Required for Adoption in India?

Law Corner

Leave a Comment