Meaning of Summary trial:
Trial— Formal examination of evidence by a judge
A summary case is a case, which can be tried and disposed of at once. The summary procedure is not intended for a complicated case which merits a full and lengthy enquiry.
Summary trial is a short cut to a regular trial. Since there is risk involved in the short cuts therefore only senior and experienced judges were allowed to try the cetain petty offences summarily. The procedure of summary trial is given in Chapter XXI (Section 260 to 265) of CrPC.
Object of the summary trial is for the speedy disposal of cases but it does not mean that the procedure in grave criminal cases be dropped because they involve considerable delay. (V.K. Agarwal vs. Vasant Raj Bhatia AIR 1988 SC 1106)
Who are empowered to try summarily?
Section 260(1) says that when any of the following Magistrate thinks fit then he can try the case summarily.:-
a) Any Chief Judicial Magistrate;
b) Any Metropolitan Magistrate;
c) Any Judicial Magistrate First Class specially empowered by the High Court;
Whether Magistrate of Second class try any offence summarily?
Yes, when High Court has given power to try any offence which is punishable only with fine or with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. However, it is to be noted that the Magistrate who is not empowered by law to try an offender summarily, then his proceedings shall stand void.
Further, the Court in Dina nath vs. Emperor ILR (1913) 35 All. 173, said that in the serious or complicated cases it would not be just and proper to have summary trials.
Which offences can be tried summarily?
Section 260(1) specifies which offences can be tried summarily:
(i) Offences which are not punishable with death or not punishable with life or punishable not exceeding two years;
(ii) Theft when value of the property stolen does not exceed Rs. 2000; (Section 378)
(iii) Receiving or retaining stolen property (Section 411) where value of property does not exceed Rs. 2000;
(iv) Concealment of stolen property (Section 414 IPC) where value of property does not exceed Rs. 2000;
(v) where offence is lurking house-trespass or house-breaking; (Section 456 IPC)
(vi) Insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace (Section 504 IPC) and criminal intimidation punishable with imprisonment for term of 2 years or fine or both (Section 506);
(vii) Abetment of any above offence;
(viii) An attempt to commit any above offences (if attempt is punishable);
(ix) Any complaint made under section 20 of Cattle-trespass act 1871.
Note:- When the value of property not exceeding Rs. 2000 and Punishment is not exceeding 2 years for such offence, only then case can have “Summary trial”.
Procedure of Summary Trial:
1. Procedure of summary trial is given under Section 262, which states that for the procedure for summary trial procedure shall be trial of summon-case [which is given under Chapter XX [Section 251 to 259)]
2. Unlike, regular trial there is no requirement of formal and elaborate record of evidence and judgment.
3. If the accused does not plead guilty, then the magistrate has to record the following:
b) Judgment with brief statement of the reasons for the findings.
Section 262(2) says that no sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding three months shall be passed by the Magistrate when trying summarily. Also, there s no limit as to amount of fine which the Magistrate can impose in a summary trial.
However, it is to be noted that if the Magistrate is of the opinion that a longer period of imprisonment is necessary in the interest of justice, the trial should be held as in a warrant-case or a summon-case, according to the nature of the offence.