Procedure of trial of summon and warrant cases by Diksha Dubey @Lexcliq

What is summons case?

Summons is a document that orders a person to whom it was sent to appear before the Court and answer the Magistrate on the complaint made against him. It is issued by the Magistrate under Section 204(1) (a) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The definition of the summons case is given in 2 (x); the summons case means a case related to an offense which is not a case of warrant. Procedure of summon case is defined under chapter 20 of Code of criminal procedure. Any offense, punishable with a fine of Rs. 50 /-, then such a case is summons case

Procedure of trial of Summons Case

The process of trial for summons cases is less concise in nature. The procedure of the same is as follows: –

  • There is no need to frame formal charges in summons cases.
  • The accused may be convicted or acquitted.
  • Summons case once completed cannot be reopened.
  • In summons case the complainant can withdraw his complaint. The effect of this would be to acquit the accused.
  • Summons are usually issued to the accused in summon cases.
  • The question of punishment in the summons case does not require hearing of the accused.
  • There is generally no need for an argument before the prosecution in summons cases.
  • In the case of summons, if the accused pleads guilty, the magistrate shall record the plea and on that ground may convict him under section 252.
  • In the case of summons, if the magistrate does not convict the accused on the plea of ​​his guilt, he shall hear the prosecution and take all the evidence. He will also hear the accused and take all the evidence produced by the accused under the section. 254(1).
  • Under section 257, on the satisfaction of the magistrate he may allow the complainant to withdraw his complaint, the accused shall be acquitted.
  • There is no provision in a summons case to authorize a Magistrate to adjourn the examination of witnesses for a prosecution or to permit the recall of any witness for further examination.
  • In a summons case, when the complainant has been summoned and he fails to appear on the stipulated date, the accused may be acquitted unless he for some reason adjourns the hearing of the case under section 257 to another day.

What is warrant case?

Warrant case means a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years. They are usually the cognizable offence which are serious or grievous in nature and in which the police arrests without warrant. Procedure of Warrant case is defined under chapter 19 of Code of criminal procedure. In Warrant cases charge is framed against the accused.

The criteria of summons case and warrant case determine the period of conviction in any offense, punishable with a fine of Rs. 50 /-, then such a case is summons case.

In any case the issue of summons or warrant does not change the nature of the case, the warrant is issued in the summons case, and it does not make the case a warrant case. A warrant is issued with an objective of bringing accused to the court, which have not appeared to the court, even after he/she is summoned.

Procedure of trial of Warrant Case

Section 238 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 lays down the procedure for trial of warrant cases established on police report and accordingly the procedure for trial is as follows: –

  • On the institution of any warrant case the accused must be provided with a copy of the police report and other documents when the accused appears or is brought before the Magistrate at the beginning of the trial.
  • Discharge of accused on baseless charge: –The Magistrate shall consider every report on receipt of the police report and other documents and making it available to the accused. He shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the accused and the prosecution (commonly called a charge argument); the magistrate will investigate the accused if necessary. If the magistrate finds that the allegation against the accused is baseless, he shall acquit the accused under section 239. He will also investigate prima facie of the case.
  • Framing of charges: –If the Magistrate is of opinion that there is ground to believe that the accused has committed an offense and is competent to try such offense which in his opinion may sufficiently punish the accused. Then the charge will be framed against the accused in writing and the trial will start.
  • Conviction of charge of guilty: –If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate shall record the plea and may in his discretion convict him.
  • Evidence for Prosecution: –If the accused denies to be guilty and claims to be prosecuted, the Magistrate shall fix the date for examination of the witnesses u/s 242.
  • Evidence for Defense: –Under section 243 of the prosecution witnesses, the defense witnesses are produced by the accused , the expenses on coercing the appearance of the witnesses shall be borne by the accused.


A Fair trial is a basic right of every human being. Ensuring this can be very difficult with the absence of even one party to the case, which is why summons and warrant serve as an important mode to deliver proper justice to the people.

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