Types of Trials: Sessions Trial, Warrant Trial, Summons Trial, Summary Trial

What is a Trial?

Meaning of Trial: – Trial is the process in a court of law where a judge or a magistrate listens to evidence and decides if somebody is guilty of a crime or not. A trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute, to present information (in the form of evidence) in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. There are 4 types of trial of offences in Indian legal system namely Trial by Court of Session, Trial of Warrant case, Trial of Summons case, Summary trials.

Types of trials

The tribunal, which may occur before a judge, jury, magistrate or other designated trier of fact, aims to achieve a resolution to their dispute.

The term “trial” is not defined anywhere in the Code of Criminal Procedure, however, it means a commonly understood stage of trial that begins after the preparation of the charge and ends with conviction or acquittal.

In simple terms, a trial can be defined as a formal examination of evidence by a judge, usually before a jury, so as to decide a crime in a criminal or civil proceeding case.

What are the types of trials in Indian legal system?

The trial of the accused in Indian criminal law is divided by the punishment of the said crime.

Types of trials

The trial of the accused for the crime committed by him is divided into four types: –

  1. Sessions Trial or Trial by court of Session: – If the offence committed is punishable with more than seven years of imprisonment or Life imprisonment or Death, the trial is to be conducted in a Sessions court after being committed or forwarded to the court by a magistrate.
  1. Warrant Trial or Trial of Warrant cases: – Warrant case includes offence punishable with the death penalty, imprisonment for life and imprisonment exceeding two years.  A trial in a warrant case begins either by filing an FIR in a Police Station or by filing it before a Magistrate.
  1. Summons Trial or Trial of Summons cases: – If the offense committed is punishable by imprisonment less than two years, it is treated as a summons case. In relation to this crime, it is not necessary to frame charges. The magistrate issues summons under section 204 (1) (a) of Cr.P.C, 1973. “Summons case” means a case related to the offense, not a case of a warrant.
  1. Summary Trials: – The trials in which cases are disposed of rapidly and a simple procedure is followed and recording of such trials are done summarily. In this trial only small cases are taken up and complex cases are reserved for summons and warrant trials. The legal provisions for summary trial are given under section 260-265 of Cr.P.C, 1973.

Legal Provisions for the Trials in Criminal Procedure Code

  • Sections 225-237 deal with trial of warrant cases by a Session court.
  • Sections 238-250 deal with trial of warrant cases by magistrates.
  • Sections 251-259 provides procedure for trial of summons cases by magistrates.
  • Sections 260-265 make provisions relating to summary trials.

Procedure in different types of Trials

1. Procedure of Court of Session Court in Criminal Trial

Chapter XVIII of Code of Criminal Procedure starting with Section 225 and ending with Section 237 relate to the provisions governing the trial before the Court of Session. The court of session has to go through three stages of trial: –

  • First Stage of Trial
    • Section 226: – In the Court of Session, each trial is to be conducted by the Public Prosecutor (Section 225). The Court of Session is not only accountable in taking cognizance of the offences under Section 199; it can also take cognizance of any matter pertaining to the offence of grievous nature. To be more clear and concise, the Sessions Court is a court at the district level serving only for more henious and serious cases. The accused is brought before the court for proof of his crime. The prosecutor’s first and most important job is to present evidence in court to prove the guilt of the accused.
    • Section 227: – If after considering the evidence and presenting the accused, the judge considers that there is no sufficient basis for the proceedings against the accused, he will discharge the accused after recording the reason for doing so. If after consideration of the case the court considers that the accused has committed an offense which is triable by the court, then the court will frame the charges in writing against the accused of the offense but if not exclusively triable  by the court after the session, the charges are fixed. After doing so, the case is transferred to the Chief Judicial Magistrate or any Judicial Magistrate of the first class.
    • Section 228: – The allegations alleged must be read aloud and clearly in front of the accused with an easily understandable language and the accused is asked whether he is guilty of the above charges.
  • Second Stage of Trial
    • Section 229: – If the accused is very well aware of the charges framed against him and pleads guilty to the same, the judge will file his plea and convict him, but it all depends on the discretion of the judge. Under section 229, the judge has the power to convict the accused, but it is desirable that the accused is not directly convicted. The prosecution will have to call in order to prove its case by adding appropriate course evidence.
    • Section 230: – If the accused refuses to plead under section 229, the judge will fix a date for prosecution of witnesses, production of any documents  etc. On the due date fixed by  the judge, he will examine the witnesses, evidence can be produced in support of the prosecution.
  • Third Stage of Trial
    • Section 232: – If after examining the accused and the evidence given by the prosecution, the judge considers that there is no evidence that the accused committed the crime; The judge acquits the accused.
    • Section 233: – If the evidence given by the prosecution clearly justifies the court in framing of charges and acquitting the accused, then the defense counsel will add evidence in support of his client. Even the accused can apply for the issue of any witness or the issue of any process for the production of a document or thing but this should not give a wrong impression to the court defeating the ends of justice.
    • Section 234 and 235: – After hearing both sides, when the issue arises to make a closing statement that section 314 of the Act applies and a closing statement is given by defence. The judge will give the final decision after keeping in mind all the evidences.

2. Procedure of Trial in Warrant Cases

Chapter XIX of Code of Criminal Procedure begins with Section 238 and ends with Section 250, with the provisions governing warrant trials.

For the hearing of warrant cases by magistrates, procedures are laid down. One is adopted by magistrates in cases instuted  on police reports, (Sections 238 to 243 Cr.P.C. and 248 to 250 of CrPC) and in for cases imposed otherwise than in police reports. (Sections 244 to 247 CRPC and 248 to 250, 275 CrPC).

Police Case

  • First Stage of Trial
    • Section 238: – In compliance with Section 207, the Magistrate should satisfy himself that he has been supplied with all necessary documents along with the charge sheet.
    • Section 239: – If after considering the charge sheet filed under section 173, the magistrate considers the charge against the accused to be baseless, he shall discharge the accused and record the reasons for such discharge.
    • Section 240: – If in the magistrate’s  opinion in the case that the accused is triable  then charges will be framed against the accused.
  • Second Stage of Trial
    • Section 242(3): – After framing the charge under section 240, the magistrate must prove under section 242 Cr.PC and under sub-section (3) of that section that the magistrate proceed to take all such evidence arising in support of the prosecution.
    • Section 243: – This provision and the provisions in sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 243, CrPC, are mandatory. And section 243 provisions  apply to cases instuted  under police report and personal complaint.

Private Complaint

  • First stage of trial
    • Section 244: – If the case is filed on a private complaint and the accused is brought before a magistrate, the prosecution must satisfy itself with all the evidence produced and may issue summons to give directions to witnesses to attend or produce any document.
    • Section 245: – After taking all the evidence under section 244, if the magistrate finds it appropriate to free the accused at any previous stage of the case, his charges are considered baseless.
  • Second stage of trial
    • Section 247: – The defense counsel will present his evidence to support the accused. If charges are framed against the accused and the magistrate finds him not guilt then the order of acquittal will be issued and he will be issued.
    • On the off chance that any case is organized on the objection to judge or to Police official or a blamed individual is introduced before the justice and officer finds that there is no ground against denounced individual then he will be released quickly by the judge, the individual who did the protest will be called to give clarification of why he ought not pay add up to the individual against whom blamed charges were made.

3. Procedure of Trial in Summons Cases

Chapter XX of Code of Criminal Procedure begins with Section 252 and ends with Section 259, which governs summons trials.

  • First stage of trial
    • Section 251: – On the appearance of the accused before the magistrate, the offense for which he has been charged, should be communicated to him and ask him whether he is guilty of the same offense to which he is charged.
    • Section 253: – Where the accused has been summoned under section 206 and, therefore, he pleads guilty without appearing before the magistrate, he shall transmit to the magistrate by post or through a messenger. He will also explain the fine in the summons, but if the accused does not uphold his plea of ​​guilty, the magistrate with his discretionary powers will sentence him to pay the penalty specified in his summons.
    • Procedure when not convicted under Section 252 or Section 203: – Then in such a case a magistrate shall hear the prosecution and take evidence arising in support of the prosecution and directing him to produce in court or produce documents or any other thing .
  • Second Stage of trial
    • Acquittal  or Conviction: – If the Magistrate is satisfied that the accused has committed the offence then the magistrate can convict the accused under Section 252 or Section 255 and where the magistrate is taking evidence under Section 254 and finds that the accused is not guilty of the charges framed against him then he will order acquittal and will release the accused.
    • Withdrawal of complaint (Section 257): – Before the final order is passed, if the complainant satisfies the magistrate that he has sufficient grounds to withdraw his complaint against the accused, and then the magistrate can allow him to withdraw the case.
    • Power of court to convert summon cases in warrant cases (Section 259): – In the course of summons case with offense punishable for a period not exceeding six months, if in the interest of justice, the magistrate may convert  the summons case into the warrant case and rehearsing the case in the manner provided in the warrant case procedure.

4. Procedure of Summary trial

Chapter XXI of the Code of Criminal Procedure begins with section 260 and ends with section 265 L, which governs summons trials. The most important objective of summary trial is to dispose of the cases speedily.

Procedure to be followed (Section 262): – The procedure to be followed under summary trial  is similar to the procedure specified for summon trail.

If the penalty is not more than two hundred rupees, no chance of appeal will be given.

  • Section 264: – In each case of summary trial, if the accused is not guilty, the magistrate will record the substance of the evidence and the judgment given must also contain a brief description of the reason for coming to a particular finding.
  • Section 265: – Emphasizes that every such record i.e. the details mentioned in Section 263 and the substance of evidence and judgment should be recorded in the language of the court.

Case laws on types of trials in India

1. Shivaji Sampat Jagtap vs. Rajan Hiralal Arora

In this case court observed that the Hon’ble Bombay High Court observed that, “the succeeding   magistrate in a   case,  the procedure contemplated under section 263 and 264 of the Code in detials has not been followed, and there is no need to  hold a trial de novo”, and the view was upheld in J.V.Baharuni vs. State of Gujarat 2007 CriLJ 122.

2. Biru Ram vs Ishar Singh & onr.

In this case , court held that section 253 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, provides that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a magistrate from discharging the accused at any previous stage of the case and the reasons should be recorded by such magistrate he considers this allegation as baseless.

3. Vijay Raj vs State of Rajasthan

In this case held that the procedure to be followed after the accused is called upon to present his defense, is similar to the the cases generated upon a police report and those instituted otherwise than on police report.

4. State of U.P. vs. Lakshmi Brahman

In this case held that in reference to  the magistrate’s duty at the level of commitment. The Court considered the nature of duty on the Magistrate complying with Section 207 Cr.P.C. And that the duty imposed by section 207 on the magistrate is to be judicially performed.

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