Introduction - 

          Section 2(w) of the Code of Criminal Procedure defines a summons case. According to Section 2 (w) of the Code, Summons case means a case relating to an offense, and not being a warrant case and according to section 2(x) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, warrant case means a case relating to an offense punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding 2 years.

     As Summons case is less serious in nature, the trial procedure in such cases is not as elaborate as in warrant cases.

Trial of summons cases by Magistrates

1) The substance of accusation to be stated - 

           Section 251 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that, when in a summons-case the accused appears or is brought before the Magistrate, the particulars of the offense of which he is accused shall be stated to him, and he shall be asked whether he pleads guilty or has any defense to make, but it shall not be necessary to frame a formal charge.

2) Conviction on plea of guilty

          According to Section 252 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate shall record the plea as nearly as possible in the words used by the accused and may, in his discretion convict him thereon.

3) Conviction on plea of guilty in absence of accused in petty cases - 

             According to Section 253(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, where a summons has been issued under section 206 and the accused desires to plead guilty to the charge without appearing before the Magistrate, he shall transmit to the Magistrate, by post or by messenger, a letter containing his plea and also the amount of fine specified in the summons.

             As per Section 253(2) The Magistrate may, in his discretion, convict the accused in his absence, on his plea of guilty and sentence him to pay the fine specified in the summons, and the amount transmitted by the accused shall be adjusted towards that fine, or where a pleader authorized by the accused in this behalf pleads guilty on behalf of the accused, the Magistrate shall record the plea as nearly as possible in the words used by the pleader and may, in his discretion, convict the accused on such plea and sentence him as aforesaid.

4) Procedure when not convicted

              According to Section 254 of the code -  (1) If the Magistrate does not convict the accused under section 252 or section 253, the Magistrate shall proceed to hear the prosecution and take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution, and also to hear the accused and take all such evidence as he produces in his defence.

               (2) The Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, on the application of the prosecution or the accused, issue a summons to any witness directing him to attend or to produce any document or other things.

               (3) A Magistrate may, before summoning any witness on such application, require that the reasonable expenses of the witness incurred in attending for the purposes of the trial be deposited in court.

5) Acquittal or conviction - 

             According to Section 255 of the Code of  - (1) If the Magistrate, upon taking the evidence referred to in section 254 and such further evidence, if any, as he may, of his own motion, cause to be produced, finds the accused not guilty, he shall record an order of acquittal.

          (2) Where the Magistrate does not proceed in accordance with the provisions of section 325 or section 360, he shall, if he finds the accused guilty, pass sentence upon him according to law.

          (3) A Magistrate may, under section 252 or section 255, convict the accused of any offense triable under this Chapter which forms the facts admitted or proved he appears to have committed, whatever may be the nature of the complaint or summons if the Magistrate is satisfied that the accused would not be prejudiced thereby.

6) Non-appearance or death of the complainant - 

         According to Section 256(1) of the said code, if the summons has been issued on complaint and on the day appointed for the appearance of the accused, or any day subsequent thereto to which the hearing may be adjourned, the complainant does not appear, the Magistrate shall notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, acquit the accused unless for some reason he thinks it proper to adjourn the hearing of the case to some other day:

     Provided that where the complainant is represented by a pleader or by the officer conducting the prosecution or where the Magistrate is of opinion that the personal attendance of the complainant is not necessary, the Magistrate may dispense with his attendance and proceed with the case.

(2) The provisions of sub-section (1) shall, so far as may be, apply also to cases where the non-appearance of the complainant is due to his death.

        Withdrawal of complaint - According to Section 257 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if a complainant, at any time before a final order is passed in any case under this Chapter, satisfies the Magistrate that there are sufficient grounds for permitting him to withdraw his complaint against the accused, or if there be more than one accused, against all or any of them, the Magistrate may permit him to withdraw the same, and shall thereupon acquit the accused against whom the complaint is so withdrawn.

7) Power to stop proceedings in certain cases -

           According to Section 258 of the Code -  In any, summons that case instituted otherwise than upon complaint, a Magistrate of the first class or, with the previous sanction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, any other Judicial Magistrate, may, for reasons to be recorded by him, stop the proceedings at any stage without pronouncing any judgment and where such stoppage of proceedings is made after the evidence of the principal witnesses has been recorded, pronounce a judgment of acquittal, and in any other case release, the accused, and such release shall have the effect of discharge.

See Also...

Summary Trial (Section 260 to Section 265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure)

What is a Warrant of Arrest and where warrant may be executed?

Difference/Distinction between Parole and Probation

What is a Warrant and what are the conditions for a valid Warrant?

What is Bail and when bail may be canceled? (Code of Criminal Procedure)


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