Author: Neitseizonuo Solo | Featured Pic-CreditShashwat Ashiya

What is a Summary Trial?

Summary trial is the name given to trials where cases are disposed of speedily and the procedure are simplified and the recording of such trials are done summarily. In a summary trial only, small offences are tried and complicated cases are reserved for summons or warrant trials. The main purpose of summary trials is to expeditiously dispose of cases as the caseload on the judiciary is immense and continues to grow. Summary trials also seek to uphold the legal maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Summary trials allow for the people to procure justice even for small offences that may otherwise have taken years to complete legal proceedings.

Legal provisions for Summary trials are provided for under Sections 260-265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Types of offences that can be tried in a Summary Trail

Sections 261 and 262 provide the type of cases that can be heard by first class and second class Magistrates respectively.

In case of any Chief Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate or any first class Magistrate the following cases may be tried:

  1. Offences which cannot be punished with the death penalty, life imprisonment or imprisonment exceeding 2 years.
  2. Theft provided in sections 379, 380 and 381 of the IPC as long as the value of item stolen does not exceed 2000 rupees.
  3. Receiving or retaining any stolen property under 2000 rupees given in Section 411 of the Indian Penal Code.
  4. Assisting in the concealment of any stolen property under 2000 rupees given in Section 414 of IPC.
  5. Lurking, trespass breaking in of houses under Section 454 of IPC.
  6. Criminal intimidation and insult with intent to provoke under Sections 506 and 504 respectively.
  7. Abetment of any of the above offences will also be tried in a summary trial.

In case of Magistrates of Second class the following offence can be tried if the High Court empowers him to do so;

  1. Offences which can be punished with imprisonment of less than 6 months with or without a fine.
  2. Any offences that can be punished with a fine.
  3. Abetment or attempt to commit the above offences.

What procedure is followed in a Summary Trial?

Section 262 of Code of Criminal Procedure provides that a summary trial will follow the same procedure as a summons trial which is much less formal. The procedure for a summary trial can thus be given as;

Registration of FIR and investigation

In the first step of any criminal procedure, an FIR is filed after which the claims made in the FIR are investigated upon and evidence collected. At the end of the investigation, a police report is filed.

Before the Magistrate

The accused is brought or appears before a Magistrate and the particulars of the offences must be clearly conveyed to the accused. In case of summary and summons trials, charges are not framed by writing the charges down.


The accused may either plead guilty or not guilty.

Conviction in case of guilty plea

The Magistrate records the statement of the accused and the accused may be convicted at the discretion of the Magistrate.

When the accused does not appear before the Magistrate to plead guilty, then he is to send 1000 rupees along with a letter containing his guilty plea.

In the case of Purushottam Sabra v. State of Orissa, 1992 Cri LJ 1417 (Ori) the court held that the accused cannot simply be convicted by the Magistrate if the accused pleads guilty if the report given by the prosecution does not provide any offences allegedly made by the accused under any statute.

Plea of not guilty

In this scenario, the proceedings continue with the trial. The Magistrate hears both the prosecution and the accused. He also examines all witnesses to the case.


The accused may either be acquitted or he may be convicted. If he is acquitted, the Magistrate will record an order of acquittal. Conversely, the accused may be convicted and sentenced

In the case of D.M. Seth v. Ganeshnarayan R. Podar, 1993 Cri LJ 1899(Bom) the court held that if there seems to be no reasonable grounds for making an accusation, the Magistrate may order the accused to be compensated by the accuser after the Magistrates calls upon the accuser to show cause for such an accusation. .

Sentence in case of Summary Trials

In summary trials, a convict cannot be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of time longer than 3 months.


The judgement of the Magistrate in cases where the accused pleads not guilty will only include the following according to Section 264 of CrPC:

  1. The substance of the evidences provided.
  2. Briefly statement of the reasons why such a finding has been reached by the Magistrate.

What is to be recorded in Summary Trials?

In every summary the following particulars should be recorded according to Section 263 of CrPC:

  1. Serial number of case
  2. The date on which the offence was committed.
  3. The date on which the complaint was made.
  4. The name of parents.
  5. The name and address of the accused.
  6. The offence and the value of the property that was stolen.
  7. The plea of the accused and if he has been examined then such examination as well.
  8. The findings of the Magistrate.
  9. The sentence or the final order of the Magistrate.
  10. The date on which the legal proceedings come to an end.

Difference between Summary Trials and other trials

  • A summary trial deals with cases where the offences are of minor and simple nature whereas more completed and serious cases are tried in summons or warrant trials.
  • In a summary trial, the statement of the witnesses are briefly and generally compiled and only the substance of their depositions are recorded but in other trials, the depositions of each of the witnesses are carefully recorded in its entirety.
  • In a summary trial the Magistrate does not have to frame formal charges against the accused but in other trials, a formal charge sheet has to be drawn up.
  • The entirety of the evidence need not be recorded in case of summary trials and only a brief outline is necessary but in case of other trials, it is necessary to record all of the evidence completely.

About the author: Neitseizonuo is a 2016-21 Batch student at Hidayatullah National Law University.

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