Trial of Warrant Cases by Magistrates

In the case of a Trial initiated by a warrant, the CrPC hereinafter mentioned as the code, has established a provision under chapter XIX, under the name “ Trial of Warrant Cases by Magistrate”. We shall be discussing these provisions, including other related sections, to understand how the procedure works and what role the justice system plays in administering justice.

  • Section 238 of the code states that, when a warrant case is initiated on a police report, the accused appears or is brought before the magistrate at the commencement of the trial, the magistrate shall then satisfy themselves by complying with the provision of S.207[1].
  • Section 239 of the code states that, upon reading and considering the police report post the investigation (S.173)[2]. The Investigating Officer thereafter, makes an examination of any of the accused and, Gives the prosecution and the accused an opportunity to make their case and be heard. Upon hearing both sides; the Judge is of the opinion that the charges levied on the accused are groundless, it is within the jurisdiction of the magistrate to discharge the accused, and record the reasons for making such a judgement.
  • Section 240 of the code states that, if the upon consideration and examination if any, post earring of both the parties the magistrate, is of the opinion that there is ground to presume that an offence has been committed by the accuses that the magistrate has the authority to try and is of the opinion, that a justifiable punishment can be ordered by magistrate, they shall then frame the charge in writing against the accused.
  • Section 241 of the code states that, if the accused pleads guilty of the charges so levied against them, the magistrate shall record the same and upon their discretion convict the accused.
  • Section 242 of the code states that, if the accused refuse to plea or pleads non guilty and/or the magistrate does not convict them under S.241, then the magistrate shall fix a date for the examination of the witness. The magistrate has the authority, on application by the prosecution, to issue summons of any witness directing them to attend or to produce and document or other thing. The magistrate thus, on the date so fixed shall take all the evidence the prosecution may produce in support of their claim. The magistrate has the jurisdiction to defer cross examination of any witness until any other witness or recall of a witness for further cross examination.
  • Section 243 of the code states that the accused shall then be called upon to enter their defence and produce evidence, and if the accused so puts a written statement in front of the court that same shall be put on the record by the magistrate. The section further talks about that after such defences has been made by the accused, applies to the magistrate to issue any process for compelling the attendance of any witness, the magistrate shall issue the same unless they consider such an application should be refused on the ground  that it has been made for the purpose for vexation or delay or for defeating the ends of justice and such grounds or rejection shall be recorded in writing. It is also mentioned that for the attendance on any witness reasonable expenses for the same should be submitted to the court.
  • Section 244 of the code states that, when a warrant case is initiated other than a police report, the accused appears or is brought before the magistrate, In that case the magistrate shall proceed to hear the prosecution and take all such evidence that may be produced by the court in support of the prosecution. The magistrate can also, on the application of the prosecution, issue summons to any witness directing them to attend or to produce any document or other thing.
  • Section 245 of the code states that, upon taking all the evidence as referred to the S.244 of the code into consideration the magistrates considered, with such reasoning being recorded, that no case against the accused has been made out, which if left unrebutted shall warrant their conviction, the magistrate shall discharge them. The provision further states that, nothing in this section prevents the magistrate to discharge the accused at any previous stage of the case, with reasons being recorded, the magistrate considers the charge to be groundless.
  • Section 246 of the code states that, if any evidence has been taken or at any previous stage the magistrate of of the opinion that there is grounds to presume that the accused has committed an offence that is trable under this chapter which the magistrate has the jurisdiction to try and appropriately punish, the magistrate shall frame the charge against the accused in writing. The charge shall then be read and explained to the accused and shall then be asked to either plead guilty of not guilty for the same, including giving any defence in support of their claim. If the accused pleads guilty, the magistrate shall record the plea and shall have discretion to to convict the accused theron. But in the case if the accused refuses to plea, or pleads non guilty or claims to be tried, the accused shall be required to state, at the next hearing of the case, if the magistrate recording their reasons for, thinks fit to cross examine any witness for the prosecution whose evidence has been taken.
  • Section 247 of the code states that the accused shall be called upon to enter their defence and produce their evidence, and the provision of section 243 of the code shall be applicable.
  • Section 248 of the code states that, if a charge has been filed under this chapter, and the magistrate finds the accused not guilty, they shall record an order of acquittal. The section talks about that in the case the magistrate does find the accused guilty but does not proceed in accordance with the provision of S.325[3] and S.360[4] then the magistrate shall, upon hearing of the accused pass a sentence on the accused according to the law. The provisions of the section further states that, if a previous conviction is charged under the provision of S211(7) and the accused does not admit that they have been previously convicted as alleged in the charge, the magistrate after said conviction takes evidence in respect of the alleged previous conviction and shall record the same. This provision is further extended, by stating that the magistrate shall not ask nor shall be accused to ask to plead before the magistrate, furthermore the prosecution is also barred from using evidence of the charge in a trial unless the accused has been convicted of the same.
  • Section 249 of the code states that, when a proceeding has been initiated upon complain, and on the day so fixed previously for the hearing of the case, the complainant is absent and the offence may be legally compounded or is of a non cognizable nature, the magistrate may, in their discretion in accordance with all other provisions before the charges are framed can discharge the accused.
  • Section 250 of the code states that, if a complaint is instituted via information given to a police officer or to a magistrate wherein one or more persons are accused of a crime that is triable by a magistrate, and the magistrate who is to hear of theses charges acquits any or all of the accused and is of the opinion that there was no reasonable ground for making such an accusation against one of all of them. The magistrate may in their order of discharge or acquittal, if the person who so has made such a complaint or passed information to the police or the magistrate shall call such person to show cause as to why they should not be liable to pay compensation to each or all of the accused, of it such person is not present to issues a summons for the same. In accordance with this provision, the magistrate shall record and consider the cause that the informant may show, and if satisfied that there were no reasonable grounds for making such an accusation shall oder an amount not exceeding the amount of fine allowed to be imposed, to be paid by the complainant or informant to the accused(s). The magistrate may further order that in the case of default of payment, the person ordered to pay such compensation shall undergo a simple imprisonment of a person not exceeding 30 days. In connection to the previous provision the section further states that, S. 68-69 of the IPC shall also apply. But the section concludes, with the provisions saying that, if on an order to pay compensation on a case that can be appealed and such time for appeal has not lapsed and and the same is presented the compensation is not liable to be paid before the expiration of one month of said order.

[1] 207. Supply to the accused of copy of police report and other documents

[2] 173. Report of police officer on completion of investigation.

[3] S.325 Procedure when Magistrate cannot pass sentence sufficiently severe

[4] S.360 Order to release on probation of good conduct or after admonition


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