Trial of Summon Cases


Author: Amisha Jain


The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 as the name itself suggests, is a law that deals with the criminal procedure. In this article, we will study about Summon and the procedure relating to the trial of Summon cases before the Magistrate.

The term ‘Summon’ is defined under sec 2(w) of the Cr.P.C as a case relating to an offence and not being a warrant case. While a Warrant case refers to a case punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment exceeding the term of two years.

The above-mentioned definition lead us to conclude that the only difference between the Summon and Warrant case is the degree of the crime. The difference helps the court in determining the appropriate procedure for its trial. The trial of the summon case is prescribed under chapter XX, Sec. 251 to 259 of Cr.P.C, 1973.


Section 251 to 259 of CRPC 1973 deals with the procedure for trial of summoning cases before a magistrate.

  • State the particulars of the offence to the accused ( Section 251):

when the accused is brought before the magistrate in this section it is mandatory to explain the particulars of the offence of which the accused is convicted. And he was asked whether to plead guilty or has any defence from his side and if the accused pleads himself guilty then in such case conviction is provided under section 252 and 253.

K M Mathew vs State of Kerala

In this case accused was summoned for the offence under section 500 of IPC 1860 (Defamation) the accused was a chief editor of a daily newspaper. An application seeking ‘Dropping of proceeding’ stating that there was no specific ground made against him and no specific offence was made against him, The Magistrate accepted the plea and acquit the chief editor.

  • Conviction on the plea of guilty (section 252 and 253):

 in the case when the accused pleads himself guilty of the charges stated against him the magistrate will record each and every word of his plea coma on the basis of which the accused Shelby convicted. If the accused leads him guilty but the charges made against him do not Institute any offence then in such a case near please will not amount to a conviction. In a case if the plea of guilty is not accepted then it will proceed as per section 254

  • Procedure when accused not convicted (section 254):

When the accused does not plead himself guilty or he is not convicted by the magistrate under Section 252 and 253. in such a case magistrate is bound to hear the complainant and his witness. A summon may be issued to any witness inviting him to witness himself or the documents before the magistrate. The magistrate cannot refuse the examination of the witness.

  • Acquittal or conviction (section 255):

After following the prescribed procedure if the magistrate finds the accused not guilty of the offence, he can acquit him by recording the evidence of acquittal. Also, he has the right to decide to release the accused under section 360 (Probation of Offender Act, 1958). if the accused is found guilty then he shall we try under section 325 of 360 of the CRPC.

  • Non appearance or Death of complainant (Section 256):

In the case where the complainant does not appear before the court on the due date the court is empowered to acquit the accused unless there is any chance to adjourn the case. This section is also applicable in case when the complainant is dead or the legal representative of that person does not appear before the court on due dates.

A.S. Ramakrishna vs S Rami Reddy

In this case, the complaint died during the trial and a large number of dates were fixed for the hearing but the legal representative of the dead person for absent for about 15 dates continuously but the accused was attending the hearing. The magistrate acquitted the accused as per this section.

Arvind Kejriwal and others v. Amit Sibal & Anr 

In this case a complaint is filed by Amit Sibal against Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister alleging defamation, the judge of Hon’ble high court Delhi ruled that ‘Magistrate has the power to hear the accused at the time of explanation of the substance of the accusation, and if no offence is made out, to drop proceedings against him at that stage itself, and the court need not, in all cases, take the matter to a full-blown trial’.

Aggrieved by the judgment complainant filed case before Supreme Court stating that ‘ Magistrate has no power to drop proceedings in the absence of provisions in CRPC to that effect’  later the Supreme Court has stayed the order of High Court and command for fresh consideration under section 482 of Cr.P.C.

  • Withdrawal of complaint (section 257):

If it is satisfied that there is necessary ground to permit the withdrawal of complaint against the Convict anytime before passing the final order the magistrate may permit the withdrawal of the complaint and acquit the accused.

  • Power to stop proceedings in certain cases (section 258):

 If a case is instituted otherwise than on complain a magistrate of first-class with the previous sanction of the chief judicial magistrate and any other Judicial Magistrate can stop the proceeding at any stage without the pronouncement of judgment recording evidence of a principal witness and can release the case.

  • Transfer of summon cases into warrant cases (section 259):

During the cause of trial of summoning case if an offence is punishable with imprisonment of a term exceeding six months then the magistrate may proceed to re-hear the case in accordance with the procedure provided for the trial of warrant cases and can recall any witness for re-examination.


 (1992) 1 SCC 217

(2008) 5 SCC 535

(2014) 1 High Court Cases (Del) 719