Summary Trial

SUMMARY TRIAL (S.260-265)]

Author: Amit Singh


What is Summary Trial?

Summary trials are quickly disposed of and with the basic procedure of recording the trials. A summary trial is established on the legal maxim ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. It is noted that the summary is simply in recording the proceedings and not in directing the proceedings. In every case, proceedings have to be done cautiously and prudently. A summary trial denotes that the case is tried and disposed at once. Such trial is not available to cases that are difficult and require a long process of analysis. Access to summary trial even in small cases prevents a failure of justice which would have otherwise taken some years to complete the proceedings. Section 260 to 265 of Crpc, 1973 deals with the summary trials.

Who has Power to try trial summarily?

According to Section 260 of the Code says that any Chief Judicial Magistrate, Metropolitan Magistrate and Magistrate of the first class with the power to try trial summarily. Still, a Magistrate of the first class to try summarily has to take special approval from the High Court. According to section 261, any HC may authorize any Magistrate of the second class to try summarily any offense which punishable only with fine or with imprisonment for a duration not exceeding 6 months with or without fine and any attempt or the abetment of such offenses.

In which offense can be tried summarily?

Magistrate of the first class, who is authorized for trial summarily, if he think can try all or any of the following offenses summarily:

  1. Offenses not punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a period exceeding two years;
  2. Offenses of theft, under section 379, section 380 or section 381 of IPC and where the value of the property stolen doesn’t exceed 200 rupees.
  3. Offenses relating to retaining stolen property, in section 411 of the Indian Penal Code and where the value of the property doesn’t exceed the limit 200 rupees.
  4. Assisting in the concealment or disposal of stolen property under section 414 of the IPC and where the worth of such property doesn’t exceed two hundred rupees.
  5. Offenses under sections 454 and 456 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
  6. Any type of offenses relating insult with the intention to provoke a breach of the peace. Under section 504, and criminal intimidation, under section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
  7. any abetment of the above-mentioned offenses;
  8. An attempt to commit any of the above-mentioned offenses and when such an attempt is an offense.
  9. Any offense established by an act in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 20 of the Cattle- Trespass Act, 1871 

The important point noted that it is a discretionary power of the Magistrate to try a specified offense in a summary way. Sec 260 of CrPc doesn’t authorize the Magistrate to try such cases which he is not allowed to try. It permits him to try the cases that he is already competent to try by a specific procedure [1]. Sec 260 (2) provides that any witness can be recalled for examination and to re-hearing and when it appears needed to the Magistrate that the case should not be tried summarily.  If the mode of trial is sought to be altered in the midstream on the ground that the offense is such which cannot be tried in a summary way and the trial must from its inception be conducted regularly.

What is the Procedure for Summary Trials?

Section 262 of the Crpc is imperative and a breach thereof amounts illegality and not an irregularity. Sec 262(1) provides that the procedure for summary trials shall be conducted according to the procedure established for conducting the trials of summons-case, except otherwise provided. This provision has to be done irrespective of the nature of the case that is, whether it is a warrant-case or summons-case. And it is forbidden by section 262 (2) to pass sentence of imprisonment for a period exceeding 3 months for any conviction in respect of summary trials. A sentence exceeding the term fixed by this section is illegal.

Ø  Asghar Ali vs. Chidda [2]

In this case, it was held that the limit of imprisonment denotes only to the substantive sentence, not to other sentences of imprisonment in default of payment of a fine. And the magistrate can punish a sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fine and maximum sentence of 3 months imprisonment which he has enforced for the offense.

What things have Records and Judgment in Summary Trials?

According to section 263 (8), in every case tried summarily, the Magistrate shall enter, in such form as the State Government may direct the following particulars –

  1. The serial number of the case
  2. The date of the commission of the offense
  3. The date of the report or complaint
  4. The name of the complainant (if any)
  5. The name, parentage and residence of the accused
  6. Offense complained of and the offense (if any) proved, and in cases coming under clause (ii), clause (iii) of clause (iv) of subsection (1) of section 260 and  the value of the property in respect of which the offense has been committed;
  7. The plea of the accused and his examination (if any);
  8. The finding;
  9. The sentence or other final order the date on which proceedings terminated.

All of these essentials have to be recorded in the form as may be approved by the State Government and

In this case court said that, “When the law permitted a Magistrate to try a case summarily, it provided, as a safeguard for the accused, that in non-appealable cases the record, and in appealable cases the judgment, should be written by the presiding officer. It contained no provision enabling him to depute that duty to a clerk. Section 264of CrPc requires to the Magistrate, where the accused had not pleaded guilty, to record the substance of evidence and judgment and its reasons thereof in brief. The substance of evidence is to be recorded at the time when such evidence is formed before the Court”.

In this case Allahabad High Court said that that if the evidence is not sufficient, the Magistrate may be required to do so even after examining the witness, or a re-trial may be ordered. All the records and judgment has to be written in the language if the Court. The Magistrate must write his full name and the mere putting in of the initials is not sufficient.

.What is the Difference between Summary and Regular trials?

A summary trial is very much different from any regular trials as follows:

  1. In summary trial can be conducted only for specified offenses which are minor in nature where more complex and grave nature of offenses is tried in regular trials.
  2. In summary trials, no formal charge is mandatory to be framed by Magistrate wherein regular trials, a formal charge sheet is compulsory to be drawn up.
  3. A summary trial, only the substance of the evidence and the disposition is briefly documented or recorded but in the regular trials where the evidence is recorded fully and carefully.


1.       Balchand Jain vs State of Madhya Pradesh 1977 AIR 366, 1977 SCR (2) 52

2.       Asghar Ali vs. Chidda, AIR 1982 All 186

3.       Subramanya Ayyar vs. the Queen, (1883) ILR 6 Mad 396