Warrant Cases under CrPC

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Warrant cases under CrPC serve as a mechanism to address and adjudicate serious crimes, upholding the principles of justice and maintaining the integrity of the legal system. Through the appropriate application of laws and fair trial procedures, warrant cases contribute to maintaining law and order and ensuring public safety.

Meaning of Warrant Cases

Warrant cases refer to cases involving a criminal offence with the death penalty, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for a period exceeding two years. These cases typically involve serious or grave offences that are considered cognizable, allowing the police to make arrests without a warrant. A court of session tries the most severe warrant cases, while Magistrates handle the rest.

Essential Elements of Warrant Cases under CrPC

Certain essential elements of warrant cases include:

  • Charges must be specified in a warrant case.
  • The personal appearance of the accused is mandatory.
  • Warrant cases under CrPC cannot be converted into summons cases.
  • The accused has the right to examine and cross-examine witnesses multiple times.
  • The Magistrate must ensure compliance with the provisions of Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.).
  • Section 207 of the Cr.P.C. 1973 mandates the provision of copies of relevant documents, such as the police report, FIR, and recorded statements, to the accused.
  • The stages of trial in warrant cases are outlined in Sections 238 to 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • Chapter XIX of the Cr.P.C. governs the trial of warrant cases, while the trial of summons cases falls under Chapter XX of the Cr.P.C.
  • The discharge of the accused in warrant cases is covered under Section 239 of the Cr.P.C. and Section 245(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, as applicable to such cases.

The recall of summons issued against the accused was addressed in the cases of Adalat Prasad v. Rooplal Jindal (338: 2004 SCC (Cri) 1927) and K.M. Mathew v. State of Kerala (1992 SCC (Cri) 88). Also, in Subramanium Sethuraman v. State of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court was reminded of its decision regarding the warrant procedure in the Adalat Prasad case.

Trial of Warrant Cases

Chapter XIX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides a framework for the procedures related to warrant cases that are triable by Magistrates. This chapter divides warrant cases into two categories:

Warrant cases instituted on a police report (Section 283-243): 

These sections pertain to cases where the police have filed a report regarding the offence. The procedures outlined in Sections 283 to 243 of Chapter XIX govern such cases.

Warrant cases instituted otherwise than a police report (Section 244-247): 

These sections apply to cases where the initiation of the case is not based on a police report. The procedures specified in Sections 244 to 247 of Chapter XIX are applicable in these instances.

Difference Between Summun Case and Warrant Case

There are two main types of criminal cases: Summons Cases and Warrant Cases. The key distinction between these two types lies in the severity of the offence and the potential punishment involved.

Summons Case

A summons case refers to an offence that does not fall under the category of a warrant case. These offences typically carry less severe penalties compared to warrant cases under CrPC. In a summons case, the accused is usually issued a summons by the court to appear before it on a specified date. The case proceeds through the court’s summons process, and the accused is given an opportunity to present their defence. An example of a summons case is the case of Public Prosecutor v. Hindustan Motors, Andhra Pradesh, 1970, where the convicted person was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 50.

Warrant Case

A warrant case involves offences that are punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment exceeding two years. These offences are considered more serious and grave in nature. In a warrant case, the police have the authority to arrest the accused without a warrant. The trial of a warrant case commences either through filing a First Information Report (FIR) at a police station or by directly filing it before a Magistrate. It is important to note that the issuance of a warrant in a summons case does not convert it into a warrant case, as observed in the case of Padam Nath v. Ahmad Dobi, 1969.

Summons CaseWarrant Case
Offence SeverityLess severe offencesSerious and grave offences
Potential PenaltyGenerally lower penaltiesPunishable by death, life imprisonment, or >2 years’ imprisonment
Accused’s NoticeAccused is issued a summons by the courtArrested by the police without a warrant
Case InitiationDirectly filed before the Magistrate or Police StationFIR filed at a Police Station or before the Magistrate
Case NatureRemains a summons case, even if a warrant is issuedRemains a warrant case, regardless of summons issuance


Warrant cases under Criminal Procedure Code play a crucial role in the criminal justice system, addressing offences that are deemed serious, grave, and punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment exceeding two years. These cases are typically cognizable offences where the police have the authority to make arrests without a warrant.

Warrant cases are distinguished from summons cases based on the severity of the offence and the potential penalties involved. In summons cases, the accused is issued a summons to appear before the court, while in warrant cases, the police can arrest the accused without a warrant.

The procedures and stages of trial in warrant cases are governed by Chapter XIX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, ensuring the fair and just resolution of these serious offences. The accused has the right to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and the Magistrate is responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions, including providing copies of relevant documents to the accused.

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