Summary Trial Under Criminal Procedure Code

Summary trial are trials that are quickly concluded and have a streamlined recording approach. They are founded on the legal adage that "justice postponed is justice denied." It is crucial to remember that the summary serves merely to record the proceedings, not to carry them out. In every situation, the process must be conducted with caution and common sense.

In a summary trial, the matter is tried and decided all at once. The rules governing summary trials are covered in Sections 260 to 265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.)

What is the meaning of Summary Trial?

In the adversarial judicial system, each side is represented by an advocate before an impartial arbiter who seeks to ascertain the truth and provide a decision in accordance with it. In a trial, the court makes a decision after hearing arguments from both sides and providing a fair chance to question, re-question, and cross-examine the witnesses presented in court.

Trials can be of three different types: warrant, summons, and summary. Summary trials are used to speed case resolution and decrease the load on the judiciary. They are listed in Chapter XXI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Power to Entertain Summary Trial

Any Chief Judicial Magistrate, Metropolitan Magistrate, or Magistrate of the First Class is granted the authority to conduct a summary trial under Section 260 of the Code. A Magistrate of the First Class must, however, get special permission from the High Court in order to try a case expeditiously. According to Section 261, any High Court may authorise any Magistrate of the Second Class to try any offence that is only punishable by a fine or by imprisonment for a term not to exceed six months with or without a fine, as well as any attempt or aiding and abetting of such offences, in a summary manner.

Offences: Summary Trail

The following offences may be tried summarily by a magistrate who has the authority to do so, depending on what they deem appropriate −

  • Crimes that are not punished by death, life in prison, or a sentence more than two years.

  • Theft-related offences covered by sections 379, 380, and 381 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), when the value of the taken property is less than Rs. 2000.

  • Under Section 411 of the IPC, theft-related offences that involve receiving or holding onto stolen goods with a value of no more than Rs. 2,000.

  • Helping to hide or dispose of any stolen item in accordance with section 414 of the IPC, provided that the value of such property is not greater than Rs. 2,000.

  • Offences covered by sections 454 and 456 of the IPC.

  • A violation of Section 504 of IPC for insulting someone with the aim to cause a disturbance;

  • The criminal intimidation offence as defined by Section 506 of the IPC, which is punished by a maximum sentence of two years in jail, a fine, or both;

  • Any effort to perpetrate the aforementioned offences, when such an attempt is criminal;

  • Any abetment of the aforementioned offences;

  • Any act that violates section 20 of the Livestock - Trespass Act, 1871.

Procedure: Summarily Trail

A violation of section 262's requirements is an illegality, not an irregularity, because they are mandatory. In accordance with the rigorous provisions of Section 262 (1), unless otherwise provided, the process for summary trials must follow the guidelines set for the trials of summons case.

Regardless of the kind of case—a warrant case or a summons case—this requirement must be followed, and it must be followed strictly. As stated in Section 262 (2) of the Code, a sentence of imprisonment for a duration more than three months may not be given for a conviction relating to summary trials. It is forbidden to serve a sentence longer than that set out in this section.

It was decided in the case of Asghar Ali (1883) that the term "limit of imprisonment" only relates to the substantive sentence and not to a secondary sentence of jail for failure to pay a fine. In addition to the maximum penalty of three months in jail that he has already given for the offence, a magistrate may also impose a sentence of imprisonment if a fine is not paid.

Judgements and Record: Summary Trail

According to Section 263 of the Code, the Magistrate must record the following information −

  • The case's serial number.

  • The time the offence was committed.

  • The time the report or complaint was filed.

  • The complainant's name, if any.

  • The accused's name, parents' names, and residence.

  • The offence alleged and the offence proven, as well as, in cases falling under clauses (ii), (iii), or (iv) of sub-section (1) of section 260, the value of the property in relation to which the offence has been committed.

  • The accused's admission and any subsequent examination.

  • Findings.

  • The final judgement or other order and

  • The day the proceedings came to a close.

All of these details must be documented in the format that the State Government may specify. The magistrate has a responsibility to record the details themselves. He is not permitted to transfer that responsibility to his clerk or use a stamp to add his signature to the record or decision.

Evidences under Summarily Trail

When the accused has not entered a guilty plea, Section 264 requires the Magistrate to briefly record the content of the evidence, the decision, and its justifications. The content of the evidence must be noted as soon as it is presented to the court. In the case of Karan Singh (1878), the Allahabad High Court ruled that the Magistrate could be obliged to do so even after questioning the witness if the evidence is not properly made forth, or a new trial might be called for.

Also, all documents and decisions must be written in the court's language. It is not sufficient to only enter the magistrate's initials; the magistrate must write his complete name.

Languages used in Judgements and Record: Summary Trail

Under the provision of Section 265 of Cr.P.C., the sitting magistrate must sign the decision or the record. The magistrate's complete name must be written; just using his initials will not do.


The criminal procedure in India is governed by two twin statutes. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is the procedural law, and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the substantive law. Any criminal justice system's main goal is to guarantee that people have the chance to participate in a free and fair trial. According to the seriousness of the offences, trials are separated into three categories and take years to complete. Summary trials provide people a chance to obtain justice for even the slightest grievances in short span of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why is it called a trial?

Ans. Trial is taken from the Anglo-French word ‘trier’ which means "to try." Therefore, in its totality, it means a trial of anything is often seen as a test of that thing.

Q2. What is the difference between a court and a trial court?

Ans. A court is a legal institution created to hear and decide disputes between parties. In contrast, a trial is the procedure used to present and hear cases before a court. The administration of justice and the upholding of the law are the court's ultimate goals.

Q3. What is the difference between a summary trial and a regular trial?

Ans. In a summary trial where an appeal is possible, the magistrate must keep the original notes of the evidence so that the appellate or revisional court can see the error, whereas in a regular trial, the magistrate must record all of the evidence with ample opportunity for cross examination before hearing the arguments from both sides.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023

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