COMMENCEMENT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE MAGISTRATES ( SECTION 204-210)
Sections 204-210 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in India outline the procedures for initiating criminal cases before magistrates, including the issuance of process, summons, and warrants as necessary.
SECTION 204 – ISSUE OF PROCESS UNDER CRPC
- Determination of Process Type : Upon taking cognizance of an offense, the magistrate assesses whether it’s a summons-case or a warrant-case and issues the necessary processes accordingly.
- Requirement of Prosecution Witnesses List : Prior to issuing summonses or warrants, a list of prosecution witnesses must be filed.
- Accompanying Complaint : In cases initiated through written complaints, any process issued must be accompanied by a copy of the complaint.
- Payment of Process and Other Fees : Process fees and other applicable fees must be paid as per the law before any process is issued, with the magistrate having the authority to dismiss the complaint if fees are not paid within a reasonable timeframe.
- Exception : Section 204 does not affect the provisions of Section 87.
SECTION 205 – MANAGING ACCUSED’S PRESENCE
- Summons Issuance : When summonses are issued, the magistrate can exempt the accused from personal appearance and allow a legal representative to stand in their stead.
- Magistrate’s Discretion : The magistrate retains the discretion to require the accused’s physical presence at any point during the proceedings.
SECTION 206 – HANDLING PETTY OFFENSES
- Summarily Resolving Cases : For petty offenses under Section 260 or Section 261, the magistrate issues summonses with options for the accused.
- Summoned Options : The accused may appear in person or be represented by a pleader. Alternatively, they can send a written plea and fine or authorize a pleader to plead guilty and pay the fine.
- Fine Limit : The specified fine in the summons should not exceed one thousand rupees.
- Petty Offense Definition : A “petty offense” excludes certain cases and refers to offenses punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees.
- Special Magistrate Empowerment : Certain magistrates may receive special powers for compoundable offenses or those punishable with short imprisonment or fines.
SECTION 207 – PROVIDING DOCUMENTS TO THE ACCUSED
- Initiation of Proceedings : Applicable in cases initiated based on police reports.
- Accused’s Right to Documents : The magistrate must provide the accused with specific documents, with some discretion in sharing certain statements like-
- The police report
- The first information report (FIR) filed under Section 154
- Statements recorded under Sub-Section (3) of Section 161 of individuals whom the prosecution intends to call as witnesses, excluding any parts requested for exclusion by the police officer under Sub-Section (6) of Section 173
- Confessions and statements, if any, recorded under Section 164
- Any other document or relevant extract forwarded to the Magistrate along with the police report under Sub-Section (5) of Section 173
- Voluminous Documents : For extensive documents, the accused can inspect them personally or through a pleader.
SECTION 208 – DOCUMENT PROVISION IN COURT OF SESSION CASES
- Exclusively Court of Session Cases : Applicable to cases exclusively triable by the Court of Session.
- Accused’s Right to Documents : The magistrate must provide the accused with relevant documents, with provisions for handling extensive documents like-
- Statements recorded under Section 200 or Section 202, or statements of all persons examined by the Magistrate
- Statements and confessions, if any, recorded under Section 161 or Section 164
- Any documents presented before the Magistrate, which the prosecution intends to rely upon.
SECTION 209 – TRANSFERRING CASES TO COURT OF SESSION
- Arrival of the Accused : When offenses require trial in the Court of Session, the magistrate commits the case, handles custody, and transfers case records.
- Notification of the Public Prosecutor : The Public Prosecutor is informed of the case’s commitment.
SECTION 210 – DEALING WITH COMPLAINT CASES AND POLICE INVESTIGATIONS
- Complaint Case and Ongoing Police Investigation: Applies when a complaint case overlaps with an ongoing police investigation.
- Halting the Proceedings : The magistrate suspends proceedings and seeks a report from the investigating officer.
- Cognizance Based on Police Report : The magistrate combines the complaint case and police report case when necessary, treating both as if initiated based on a police report.
- No Relation to Accused in Complaint Case : If the police report is unrelated or if no cognizance is taken, the magistrate continues with the suspended inquiry or trial.
In conclusion, Sections 204 to 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code outline the Commencement Of Legal Proceedings Before Magistrates. They cover the issuance of process, providing copies of documents to the accused, transferring cases to the Court of Session when necessary, and dealing with concurrent police investigations in complaint cases. These sections ensure a structured and fair process for criminal proceedings in India.