Summary trials are the trials that are conducted quickly and with the simplified procedure of recording the trials. The principle of the summary trial is based on the legal maxim ‘justice deferred justice denied’. It is important to note that the summary is only in the record of the proceedings and not in the execution of the proceedings. The proceedings must in all cases be done with care and caution. A summary hearing implies that the case will be heard and dismissed immediately. Such a hearing is not available for cases that are complicated and require a lengthy process of investigation. Access to a summary trial, even in small cases, prevents a miscarriage of justice, which would otherwise have taken several years to complete the proceedings. Sections 260 to 265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) deal with the provisions relating to summary hearings.[i]
Types of offenses that can be tried in a summary route
S.261 and S.262 contain the types of cases that can be heard by first-class and second-class magistrates, respectively. In the case of a chief magistrate or metropolitan magistrate or a first-rate magistrate, the following cases may be heard:[ii]
- Offenses that cannot be punished with the death penalty, life imprisonment or imprisonment of more than 2 years.
- Theft provided in S. 379, 380 and 381 of the IPC, as long as the value of the stolen item does not exceed 200 rupees.
- The receipt or retention of stolen goods under 200 rupees as set out in Section 411 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Assist with the concealment of stolen goods under 200 rupees given in Section 414 of the IPC.
- Poor, breach of houses under Section 454 of the IPC.
- Criminal harassment and insult with intent to provoke under Articles 506 and 504 respectively.
- In a summary trial, one of the above offenses will also be prevented.
In the case of second-class magistrates, the following offense may be tried if the Supreme Court authorizes it to do so;
- Offenses that can be punished with or without penalty of less than 6 months imprisonment.
- Violations that can be imposed with a fine.
- Termination or attempt to commit the above offenses.
What procedure is followed in a summary trial?
Section 262 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that a summary hearing will follow the same procedure as a subpoena hearing that is much less formal.[iii] The procedure for a summary hearing can therefore be given as;
Registration of FIR and investigation
In the first step of any criminal procedure, an FIR is filed after which the claims made in the FIR are investigated and evidence is collected. After the investigation, a police report is submitted.
Before the Magistrate
The accused is brought before a magistrate or appears and the details of the offenses must be clearly communicated to the accused. In the case of summary and subpoena hearings, the charges are not drawn up by writing down the charges.
The accused may plead not guilty or not guilty.
Violation of plea case
The magistrate records the statement of the accused and the accused can be found guilty at the discretion of the magistrate.If the accused does not appear before the magistrate to plead guilty, he must send 1000 rupees along with a letter with his conviction. In the case of Purushottam Sabra v. State of Orissa, 1992 Cri LJ 1417 (Ori), the court ruled that the accused cannot simply be convicted by the magistrate if the accused pleads guilty if the prosecution report does not offer any offenses made by the accused under any statute.
Plead not guilty
In this scenario, proceedings proceed with the hearing. The magistrate hears both the prosecution and the accused. He is also investigating all witnesses of the case.
The accused can either be acquitted or he can be found guilty. If he is acquitted, the magistrate will sign an acquittal order. Conversely, the accused can be found guilty and sentenced. In the case of D.M. Seth v. Ganeshnarayan R. Podar, 1993 Cri LJ 1899 (Bom), the court ruled that if there are no reasonable grounds to make an accusation, the magistrate may order that the accused be compensated by the accused after the magistrate ‘ appeal to the prosecutor to show cause for such an accusation. .
Sentence in the case of summary hearings
Summarizing hearings, a convicted person cannot be sentenced to imprisonment for more than 3 months.
The Magistrate’s judgment in cases where the accused does not plead guilty will only include the following under Section 264 of CrPC:
- The content of the evidence.
- Briefly explain the reasons why such a finding was found by the magistrate.
What should be recorded in the summary trials?
In each summary, the following details must be recorded in accordance with Section 263 of the CrPC:
- Serial number of the case
- The date on which the offense was committed.
- The date the complaint was filed.
- The name of parents.
- The name and address of the accused.
- The violation and the value of the property stolen.
- The plea of the accused and if he is investigated, so is it.
- The Magistrate’s findings.
- The judgment or final order of the magistrate.
- The date the legal action ends.
The purpose of the summary trial is to prevent unnecessary obstruction by a defendant who has no defense and concludes in a timely manner. Summary hearings can be conducted in Rule 1, Supreme Court, Civil City Courts or Small Business Courts. It can also be argued in certain other courts. However, the Supreme Court may, by notice in the Official Gazette, allow only a particular category of complaints to be heard by such court.[iv]
“The views of the authors are personal“