In India, summary trials in CrPC are governed by Section 260 to 265. They are typically used for cases involving petty offences, where the maximum punishment is up to two years of imprisonment, or cases that are deemed to be of a summary nature by law.
Summary trials under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provide a streamlined and expeditious legal process for the quick disposal of certain types of criminal cases in India. These summary trials are designed to ensure swift justice by simplifying procedures and reducing timelines, with the aim of delivering timely and efficient resolutions for certain offences.
The criminal justice system in India is tasked with the responsibility of delivering justice in a timely and efficient manner. However, the sheer volume of cases and the procedural complexities often lead to delays in the disposal of cases, resulting in a backlog of pending cases and a strain on the judicial system.
Meaning of Summary Trials in CrPC
Summary trials, as per the CrPC, are governed by Sections 260 to 265, and they are designed to provide a summary and expedited process for the trial of certain types of offences. These trials are intended for cases where the maximum punishment is up to two years of imprisonment or cases that are considered to be of a summary nature by law.
The objective of summary trials is to ensure that justice is delivered swiftly, without compromising on the principles of natural justice and fair trial.
No sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding three months shall be passed in the case of any conviction under this Chapter.
Key Features of Summary Trials under Criminal Procedure Code
Summary trials have certain unique features that set them apart from regular trials. Let’s explore some of the key features of summary trials under CrPC:
Expedited Process: One of the primary features of summary trials is the expedited process. The timelines for various stages of the legal process, such as investigation, filing of charges, and conducting the trial, are significantly reduced compared to regular trials. This ensures that the case progresses swiftly and is disposed of in a timely manner.
Simplified Procedure: The procedure for summary trials is simpler compared to regular trials. The court has the discretion to skip certain formalities, such as recording detailed evidence, and can rely on a summary of evidence to arrive at a decision. The rules of evidence are also relaxed, making the process less formal and more efficient.
Limited Punishment: Summary trials are meant for cases where the maximum punishment is up to two years of imprisonment, although in some cases, it may be extended to three years with the consent of the accused. This ensures that only offences of a certain gravity are tried summarily, and cases with higher potential punishments are dealt with through regular trials.
Limited Right of Appeal: The right of appeal in summary trials under the Criminal Procedure Code is limited compared to regular trials. An accused can only appeal to a higher court on points of law, rather than on questions of fact or mixed questions of law and fact. This helps in expediting the appellate process and reduces delays in the disposal of cases.
Summary Disposal: One of the unique features of summary trials is the provision for summary disposal. If the accused pleads guilty, and the court is satisfied, the case may be disposed of summarily without a full-fledged trial. This further accelerates the process and helps in the quick resolution of cases.
Relevant Laws Governing Summary Trials in CrPC
Summary trials in CrPC are governed by specific sections of the Code. Some of the relevant laws that govern summary trials in India are:
- Section 260: This section defines the offences that can be tried summarily, which include offences where the maximum punishment is up to two years of imprisonment or offences that are considered to be of a summary nature by law.
- Section 261: This section provides a summary trial by Magistrate of the second class.
- Section 262: This section deals with the procedure to be followed in summary trials.
- Section 263: This section provides deals with a record in summary trials.
- Section 264: This section provides for judgment in cases tried summarily.
- Section 265: Language of Record and Judgment
Who can conduct summary trials in CrPC?
According to Section 260 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code,
- Chief Judicial Magistrate;
- Metropolitan Magistrate;
- Magistrate of the first class specially empowered in this behalf by the High Court,
may, if he thinks fit, try in a summary way.
According to Section 261, 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.
Offences tried Summarily
According to Section 260 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the following offences can be tried in a summary way:
- offences not punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years;
- theft, under section 379, section 380 or section 381 of the Indian Penal Code, (45 of 1860) where the value of the property stolen does not exceed two hundred rupees;
- receiving or retaining stolen property, under section 411 of the Indian Penal Code, (45 of 1860) where the value of the property does not exceed two hundred rupees;
- assisting in the concealment or disposal of stolen property, under section 414 of the Indian Penal Code, (45 of 1860) where the value of such property does not exceed two hundred rupees;
- offences under sections 454 and 456 of the Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860);
- insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, under section 504, and criminal intimidation, under section 506 of the Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860);
- abetment of any of the foregoing offences;
- an attempt to commit any of the foregoing offences, when such attempt is an offence;
- any offence constituted by an act in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 20 of the Cattle-trespass Act, 1871(1 of 1871).
When, in the course of a summary trial it appears to the Magistrate that the nature of the case is such that it is undesirable to try it summarily, the Magistrate shall recall any witnesses who may have been examined and proceed to re-hear the case in the manner provided by this Code.
Procedure for summary trials in CrPC
According to Section 262:
(1) In trials under this Chapter, the procedure specified in this Code for the trial of summons-case shall be followed except as hereinafter mentioned.
(2) No sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding three months shall be passed in the case of any conviction under this Chapter.
Record in summary trials under Criminal Procedure Code
According to Section 263:
In every case tried summarily, the Magistrate shall enter, in such form as the State Government may direct, the following particulars, namely:-
(a) the serial number of the case:
(b) the date of the commission of the offence;
(c) the date of the report or complaint;
(d) the name of the complainant (if any);
(e) the name, parentage and residence of the accused;
(f) the offence complained of and the offence (if any) proved, and in cases coming under clause (ii), clause (iii) or clause (iv) of sub-section (1) of section 260, the value of the property in respect of which the offence has been committed;
(g) the plea of the accused and his examination (if any);
(h) the finding;
(i) the sentence or other final order
(j) the date on which proceedings were terminated.
Judgment in cases tried summarily
According to 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
According to Section 265:
(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.
Summary trials in Criminal Procedure Code are a valuable tool in ensuring swift justice for certain types of offences in India. They provide an expedited and simplified process for the disposal of cases, ensuring timely justice and reducing delays in the judicial system. The relevant laws governing summary trials, such as Section 260 to 265 of the CrPC, outline the procedure and limitations of these trials.
The significance of summary trials in CrPC lies in their efficiency, cost-effectiveness, deterrence, access to justice, and flexibility. By promoting expeditious and streamlined resolution of cases, summary trials contribute to the overall effectiveness of the Indian criminal justice system. However, it is important to ensure that the principles of natural justice and fair trial are upheld, and that summary trials in CrPC are conducted in a manner that safeguards the rights of the accused.
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