In general, summons means “to appear and answer before the court.”
The presence of the accused during the trial plays a vital role in concluding a fair trial. The attendance of the accused can be procured either by issuing of summons or by arresting and detaining him or by issuing of proclamation or by attachment of property or bonds and sureties.
The code classifies the criminal case as a summons case and a warrant case. The classification is based on the seriousness of the crime committed.
According to section 2(w) of the Criminal Procedure Code, a summons case means a case relating to an offence and not being a warrant case.
According to section 2(x) CrPC, a warrant case means a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years.
However, the code provides discretion to the judicial officer to depart from this general rule if the case demands under section 204 and section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Under section 204 CrPC, a Magistrate shall issue summons in a summons case, warrant in warrant case or summons if he thinks fit. Section 87 empowers the court to issue a warrant in lieu of or in addition to the summons in certain cases, but the reason will be recorded for such issue.
Meaning of Summons
Summon is a legal document issued by the court directed to a person to appear before a judge or Magistrate. According to section 205(1) CrPC, issuing summons may permit the accused to appear through his pleader.
Essentials of Summons
Summons should be clear and specific. Further, according to section 61 of the Criminal Procedure Code:
- Summons shall be in writing.
- Summons shall be served in duplicate.
- Summons shall be signed by the presiding officer of the court issuing it.
- Summons shall bear the seal of the court.
Contents of Summons
The summons should contain adequate particulars:
- The name of the court issuing it.
- Name and address of the party receiving summons.
- Offence charged with.
- Seal of the court.
Service of Summons
According to section 62 CrPC, the summons shall be served by the police, or subject to rules made by the State Government on this behalf, by an officer of the court or other public servant. If practicable, the summons shall be served personally on the person summoned who shall sign a receipt.
Service of Summons to Corporate Bodies and Societies
According to section 63 CrPC, the service of summons to corporate bodies and societies may be affected by:
- Serving the summons on the secretary, local manager or other principal officers of the corporation concerned.
- Letter sent by registered post addressed to the Chief Officer of the corporation.
In this section, the corporation includes an incorporated company, other body corporate and societies registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
Service When a Person Summoned Cannot Be Found
According to section 64 CrPC, when the person to be summoned cannot be found, the summons shall be served by leaving the duplicate with an adult male member of the family who resides with the person summoned. Such a member may sign the receipt if required. This is also known as the extended service of summons. It is to be noted a servant is not considered a member of the family under this section.
When Service of Summons Cannot Be Effected
According to section 65 CrPC, when service cannot be effected as provided under sections 62, 63, 64, the duplicate of summons shall be affixed to some conspicuous part of the house in which the person summoned resides. This is also known as substituted service of summons.
Service on Government Servant
According to section 66 CrPC, when the summon is to be served to a government servant, the duplicate of the summons shall be sent to the head of the office in which such person is employed.
Service Outside Local Limits
According to section 67 CrPC, if the summons is to be served outside the local limits, the court shall send such summons in duplicate to the Magistrate within whose local jurisdiction the person summoned resides.
Summons to Witness
According to section 311 CrPC, the court can anytime summon and examine any person as a court witness if his evidence appears essential for the interest of the case. The court also has the authority to recall or re-examine a witness already examined.
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