Judicial Dictionary

Summons case

Sections 251 to 257 of that chapter deal with the steps to he adopted from the commencement up to culmination of the proceedings in summons cases. One of the normal rules in summons cases is that once trial started, it should reach its normal culmination. But S.258 is included in that chapter in the form of an exception to the aforesaid normal progress chart of the trial in summons case.

It is useful to extract the section here :

“258. Power to stop proceedings in certain cases. – In any summons case instituted otherwise than upon complaint, a Magistrate of the first class or, with the previous sanction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, any other Judicial Magistrate, may, for reasons to be recorded by him, stop the proceedings at any stage without pronouncing any Judgment and where such stoppage of proceedings is made after the evidence of the principal witness has been recorded, pronounce a judgment of acquittal, and in any other case, release the accused, and such release shall have the effect of discharge.”

Summons cases are generally of two categories. Those instituted upon complaints and those instituted otherwise than upon complaints. The latter category would include cases based on police reports. Section 258 of the Code is intended to cover those cases belonging to one category alone i.e. “summons cases instituted otherwise than upon complaints.” The segment separated at the last part of the section by the words “and in any other case” is only a sub-category or division consisting of “‘summons cases instituted otherwise than upon complaints. “ That sub-category is not intended to cover all summons cases other than those instituted on police report. In fact, S.258 vivisects only “summons cases instituted otherwise than on complaints” into two divisions. One division consists of cases in which no evidence of material witness was recorded.

The section permits the Court to acquit the accused prematurely only in those summons cases instituted otherwise than on complaints wherein the evidence of material witnesses was recorded. But the power of Court to discharge an accused at midway stage is restricted to those cases instituted otherwise than on complaints wherein no material witness was examined at all.

The upshot of the above is that S.258 of the Code has no application to cases instituted upon complaints.

AIR 2001 SC 2651 : (2001) 3 SCR 934 : (2001) 6 SCC 30 : JT 2001 (5) SC 398 : (2001) 4 SCALE 323 : (2001) CriLJ SC 3322