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What Are Summary Trials Under The Code of Criminal Procedure,1973?

The principle of the summary trial is based on the legal maxim ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, which means if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all.

Therefore, Chapter 21 of The Code of Criminal Procedure,1973, deals with Summary Trials from Section 260 to 265 of the code.

Summary trials can be held only by a District Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class empowered in that behalf, or a Bench of Magistrates empowered under either Section 260 or Section 261 of the Code. Only offences specified in these sections may be tried by this procedure.

Power to try summarily

Section 260 of the Code confers any Chief Judicial Magistrate, Metropolitan Magistrate and Magistrate of the first class with the power to try trial summarily. However, in such trial, in the case of any conviction, a sentence of imprisonment cannot exceed three months and a Magistrate of the first class in order to try summarily has to take special permission from the High Court.

Summary trial by Magistrate of the second class

Under Section 261 of The Code of Criminal Procedure,1973, The High Court may confer on any Magistrate invested with the powers of a Magistrate of the second class power to try summarily any offence which is punishable only with fine or with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months with or without fine, and any abetment of or attempt to commit any such offence.

Procedure for summary trials [Section 262]
  • In summary trial, the procedure specified under the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973, for the trial of summons-case shall be followed except as hereinafter mentioned.

  • No sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding three months shall be passed in the case of any conviction under a summary trial.

In the case of Asghar Ali, (1883) 6 All 61.

it was held that the limit of imprisonment refers only to the substantive sentence, not to an alternative sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of a fine. A magistrate can impose a sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of the fine in addition to the maximum sentence of three months imprisonment which he has imposed for the offence.

Record in summary trials

Under Section 263 of the code, the Magistrate shall try and enter, the following particulars, namely-

  • the serial number of the case;

  • the date of the commission of the offence;

  • the date of the report of complaint;

  • the name of the complainant (if any);

  • the name, parentage, and residence of the accused;

  • the offence complained and also proved, and cases coming under clause (ii), clause (iii) or clause (iv) of Sub-Section (1) of section 260 of the Act. Also the value of the property attached to the offence;

  • the plea of the accused and also his examination (if any);

  • the finding;

  • the sentence and also other final order;

  • the date on which proceedings terminated.

Judgment in cases tried summarily

As Per Section 264, in every case tried summarily in which the accused does not plead guilty, the Magistrate shall record the substance of the evidence and a judgment containing a brief statement of the reasons for the finding.

Language of record and judgment

(1) Every such record and judgment shall be written in the language of the Court.

(2) The High Court may authorize any Magistrate empowered to try offences summarily to prepare the aforesaid record or judgment or both by means of an officer appointed in this behalf by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, and the record or judgment so prepared shall be signed by such Magistrate.

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