A “summon” is a document that orders someone to appear before a court or magistrate. The accused is summoned by the Magistrate under section 204(1)(a)[1] of the CrPC, 1973. “Summon case” refers to a case involving an offence that is not a warranty case.[2] So summons cases are not serious in nature, and the sentence should not exceed two years in jail. Sections 251 to 259[3] of the CrPC 1973 govern the procedure for summons cases. The current article focuses mostly on the procedure for summons cases. The main phases of the procedure in a summon case are the same as in other trials, although this trial is less formal to give a rapid remedy.

  1. Explaining the essence of the charge to the accused: Section 251 provides that when the summons is issued to a person the accused has to have appeared before the magistrate; when he is informed of the charges against him, he will be asked if he wants to enter a plea of guilty or raise any defences. Under this section, it is provided that it is necessary to frame formal charges. In Nayan Ram Das And Anr v Prasanna Kumar Das,[4]It is ruled that if the charge is not made known to the accused, this is reversible under Section 465[5] of the Code. If the complaint does not reveal any offence against the accused, the fact that the process has already been given is not a bar to dismissing the proceedings. In this case, it is not stated explicitly what duty was violated or what obligation was breached. The charge against the accused could not have been established in the absence of detailed averments and significant particulars.[6] An offence under section 500[7] of the IPC which deals with defamation is punishable by up to two years in imprisonment, is to be tried as summons cases.
  1. Conviction on plea of guilty: Section 252[8] deals with what happens if the accused pleads guilty after hearing the allegations against him or her, the Magistrate may record the accused exact statements and convict him for future proceedings. Section 253[9] deals with the absence of the accused at the time of conviction on a guilty plea. In general, a summons has been issued under Section 206[10] CrPC, and if the accused chooses to plead guilty to the accusations without appearing before the judge, he can do so by posting or sending a letter stating his plea and the amount of fine specified in the summons. In addition, the accused authorized pleader has the authority to plead guilty on his or her behalf. If the accused does not plead guilty, the magistrate must proceed following Section 254[11].
  1. If the accused is not convicted based on his or her plea, the following steps must be taken: Section 254[12] governs the proceedings when the accused does not enter a plea of guilty. If the accused is not convicted as a result of his or her plea under sections 252 and 253, section 254 deals with both the prosecution and defence arguments. The magistrate will continue with the prosecution by taking all evidence and presenting all the case’s facts and circumstances. At the prosecution’s request, the magistrate summons any witness to appear and present any document or object. Before summoning any witnesses to the prosecution the accused is required to pay reasonable expenses to the witness to present in the court and that amount needs to be deposited in the court by the accused or by the pleader authorized by the accused. Following the prosecution’s evidence and the defence’s examination under Section 313[13] the court will proceed with the defence hearing under Section 254(1)[14]. The accused has the right to defend his case; failing to hear from the accused side is a basic mistake in the criminal trial that cannot be addressed under Section 465[15].
  1. Acquittal or Conviction: Section 255[16] is concerned with acquittal or conviction. If the magistrate considers the accused not guilty after hearing all of the evidence, he shall issue an order of acquittal. If the magistrate finds the accused guilty he shall precede according to section 325[17] or section 360[18], and past sentence to the accused according to the law. Under section 252[19] or Section 255[20] with the magistrate convict, the accused based upon the facts and circumstances and evidence produced then the magistrate can pass the order of conviction.
  1. The complainant’s absence or death: According to section 256[21] based on the complaint, a summons was issued to appear to the court at a particular date at the time of prosecution, If the complainant fails to arrive, the magistrate may acquit the accused unless the court has a good reason to continue the hearing to another day. If the complainant is unable to appear due to death, the case may be represented by a leader or an official handling the prosecution if the magistrate determines that the complainant’s attendance is not required. The Supreme Court ruled in S. Rama Krishna vs. S. Rami Reddy[22] that the offender can be acquitted if the representative of the dead complainant does not show for 15 days.
  1. Section 257[23]– Complaint Withdrawal: The complainant has the right to withdraw the case at any moment before the final order is issued, with the consent of the magistrate, if there are adequate grounds. When there is more than one accused the complainant can withdraw the case then the magistrate can acquit the accused after the compliant has withdrawn the case.
  1. Case of Summons Discharge: A Magistrate of First Class can stop the proceedings under Section 258[24], with the permission of the Chief Judicial Magistrate or any other Judicial Magistrate, and if the proceeding is stopped after the evidence has been recorded, it is a judgment of acquittal; if the proceeding is stopped before the evidence has been recorded, it is released with the discharge of the case. In Arvind Kejriwal & Ors vs Amit Sibal & Anr,[25]because there is no such provision in the legislation, it was concluded that the summons cases could not be discharged by the Magistrate and that the individual should instead go to the High Court under Section 482[26] of the CrPC. In R.K. Aggarwal v. Brig Madan Lal Nassa & Anr,[27] it was held in summons cases the accused has to be acquitted or convicted based on the facts and circumstances stated by the complaint and there is no provision for dismissing the summons.
  1. Summon cases into warrant cases: Under Section 259[28] court has the power to transform summons cases into warrant cases. During the trial of summons cases offences related to the punishment with a term of imprisonment of more than six months, if the magistrate has a consideration that the case should be tried as warrant cases then the magistrate under the supervision of the court can convert the summons cases into warrant cases.


This is the procedure followed by the magistrate after issuing the summons. First, the magistrate explains to the accused the charges against him that are framed. And then ask whether he pleads guilty or not. If he pleads guilty he would be awarded punished according to the law, if not the prosecution begins by collecting pieces of evidence and by examining the defence, and presenting witnesses to the court. If the Complainant failed to appear in the court the magistrate may acquit the accused or adjourn the case with another date. If the complainant wants to withdraw the case he can do so with proper reason.

Author(s) Name: Alla Dhanalakshmi  (Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam)


[1] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 204(1)(a)

[2]Criminal procedure code 1973, s 2(w)

[3]Criminal procedure code 1973, Chapter XX

[4]Nayan Ram Das And Anr v Prasanna Kumar Das, AIR 1953 Gau 161

[5] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 465

[6]State v B.M.N. Rao AndOrs, 1998 (2) ALD Cri 154

[7] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 500

[8] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 252

[9] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 253

[10] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 206

[11] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 254

[12] ibid

[13] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 313

[14] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 254(1)

[15] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 465

[16] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 255

[17] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 325

[18] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 360

[19] Supra note 8

[20] Supra note 14

[21] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 256

[22] S. Rama Krishna v S. Rami Reddy, (2008) 5 SCC 535

[23] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 257

[24]Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 258

[25] Arvind Kejriwal & Ors v Amit Sibal & Anr, (2014) 1 Del 719

[26]Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 482

[27] R.K. Aggarwal v. Brig Madan Lal Nassa & Anr 2016 SCC Online Del 3720

[28] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 259

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