Dr. Ajay (Nagarjuna), working in the Royal Hospital, was planning to leave for U.S.A. When he came across a young man Shankar (Ravi Kiran) about to commit suicide. Ajay saved him from the self-killing act only to know that the boy had a dying mother, deprived of all medical help, because of poverty. The death of the poor mother opens up a new reality to Dr. Ajay. He gives up his plan to go abroad. He instead starts working on an "Amma Hospital Project" to help the poor get this full benefit of the advanced medical science. He meets a young girl Dr. Shweta (Manisha Koirala) working in the same hospital as a doctor, who makes a generous contribution to the "Amma Project". They soon fall in love with each other.
Dr. Shweta has a childhood friend Ramya (Ramya Krishnan) a police officer, who had also met Dr. Ajay and had fallen in love with him. Yet when she came to know about her friend Shweta's or Dr. Ajay, Ramya makes sacrifice by getting two lovers married.
However, things are not adjust for Ajay and Shweta. Royal Hospital owner Jagdish Prasad (Ajit) is unhappy about this "Amma Project Hospital" for him is a barsiner establishment intended to make money. "Amma Hospital" will definitely jepordise the earnings of the royal hospital dr. Shweta, during the course of her work in the Royal Hospital, Comes across something drastic and horrible. She instantly returns home to diverge it to her husband Ajay, who was away addressing a conference in the hospital. She talks to him over the phone. He promises to return home at once.
It was a dark night when Shweta waits for Ajay to come back. She suddenly discover and unknown man inside her house. She immediately rings up the police and talks to her friend Ramya. However when Dr. Ajay returns home it was a litter too late for he already finds Shweta murdered in the house. He was not yet able to overcome the....... when Inspector Dharma (Nazar) and Inspector Ramya arrive there with the police force. Dr. Ajay, thereafter is police station where he is accused and arrested for murdering his own wife.
The subsequent trial in a court of law. Finds Ajay guilty of murder and sentence him to death. There is no way for Ajay to prove his innocence, but luck provides him with such an opportunity. The van that was carrying the condemned prisoners. Meets with a serious accident on the Ajay sets his chance to escape from his captivity. He avails of it and vows to remain absconding until he finds the real killer of his wife Shweta. Now it becomes a wild goose chase with Inspector Dharma Teja all the time following Ajay to arrest him and have him and have him housed. Ajay, however... all the hurdles. Finds out than Shweta was killed by a man who had only one hand. He also find out that train, one hand man (Gulshan Grover) has been in contact with the Royal Hospital owner Jagdish Prasad. Ajay also discovers that the ........ Shankar had been robbed of him kidneys without his knowledge.
Ajay, now, directly confronts, Jagdish Prasad an accuses him of having plotted the murder Shweta. He vows to have Jagdish Prasad and his one hand goon arrested by the police Ajay start terminally working for this and when he get, the knocking news of the murder of Jagdish Prasad himselfs Ajay in a big quandary, who was killed Jagdish Prasad? Who was the killer of Shweta? What had Shweta seen in the hospital? What was the motive behind these killings?
This shocking mystery is finally unravelled in Mukesh Bhatt's "Criminal" which is directed by Mahesh Bhatt.