Chapter 19 – Trial Of Warrant-Cases By Magistrates
Section 238 – Compliance with section 207
When in any warrant-case instituted on a police report, the accused appears or is brought before a Magistrate at the commencement of the trial, the Magistrate shall satisfy himself that he has complied with the provisions of section 207.
Section 239 – When accused shall be discharged
If, upon considering the police report and the documents sent with it under section 173 and making such examination, if any, of the accused as the Magistrate thinks necessary and after giving the prosecution and the accused an opportunity of being heard, the Magistrate considers the charge against the accused to be groundless, he shall discharge the accused, and record his reasons for so doing.
Section 240 – Framing of charge
- If, upon such consideration examination, if any, and hearing, the Magistrate is of opinion that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence triable under this Chapter, which such Magistrate is competent to try and which, in his opinion could be adequately punished by him, he shall frame in writing a charge against the accused.
- The charge shall then be read and explained to the accused, and he shall be asked whether he pleads guilty of the offence charged or claims to be tried.
Section 241 – Conviction on plea of guilty
If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate shall record the plea and may, in his discretion, convict him thereon.
Section 242 – Evidence for prosecution
- If the accused refuses to plead or does not plead, or claims to be tried or the Magistrate does not convict the accused under section 241 the Magistrate shall fix a date for the examination of witnesses.
Provided that the Magistrate shall supply in advance to the accused, the statement of witnesses recorded during investigation by the police.
- The Magistrate may, on the application of the prosecution, issue a summons to any of its witnesses directing him to attend or to produce any document or other thing,
- On the date so fixed, the Magistrate shall proceed to take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution:
Provided that the Magistrate may permit the cross-examination of any witness to be deferred until any other witness or witnesses have been examined or recall any witness for further cross-examination.
Section 243 – Evidence for defence
- The accused shall then be called upon to enter upon his defence and produce his evidence; and if the accused puts in any written statement, the Magistrate shall file it with the record.
- If the accused, after he had entered upon his defence, applies to the Magistrate to issue any process for compelling the attendance of any witness for the purpose of examination or cross-examination, or the production of any document or other thing, the Magistrate shall issue such process unless he considers that such application should be refused on the ground that it is made for the purpose of vexation or delay or for defeating the ends of justice and such ground shall be recorded by him in writing:
Provided that, when the accused has cross-examined or had the opportunity of cross-examining any witness before entering on his defence, the attendance of such witness shall not be compelled under this section, unless the Magistrate is satisfied that it is necessary for the ends of justice.
- The Magistrate may, before summoning any witness on an application under Sub-Section (2), require that the reasonable expenses incurred by the witness in attending for the purposes of the trial be deposited in Court.
Section 244 – Evidence for prosecution
- When, in any warrant-case instituted otherwise than on a police report the accused appears or is brought before a Magistrate, the Magistrate shall proceed to hear the prosecution and take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution.
- The Magistrate may, on the application of the prosecution, issue a summons to any of its witnesses directing him to attend or to produce any document or other thing.
Section 245 – When accused shall be discharged
- If, upon taking all the evidence referred to in section 244 the Magistrate considers, for reasons to be recorded, that no case against the accused has been made out which, if unrebutted, would warrant his conviction, the Magistrate shall discharge him.
- Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prevent a Magistrate from discharging the accused at any previous stage of the case if, for reasons to be recorded by such Magistrate, he considers the charge to be groundless.
Section 246 – Procedure where accused is not discharged
- If, when such evidence has been taken, or at any previous stage of the case, the Magistrate is of opinion that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence triable under this Chapter, which such Magistrate is competent to try and which, in his opinion, could be adequately punished by him, he shall frame in writing a charge against the accused.
- The charge shall then be read and explained to the accused, and he shall be asked whether he pleads guilty or has any defence to make.
- If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate shall record the plea, and may, in his discretion, convict him thereon.
- If the accused refuses to plead, or does not plead or claims to be tried or if the accused is not convicted under Sub-Section (3) he shall be required to stale, at the commencement of the next hearing of the case or, if the Magistrate for reasons to be recorded in writing so thinks fit, forthwith whether he wishes to cross-examine any, and if so, which, of the witnesses for the prosecution whose evidence has been taken.
- If he says he does so wish, the witnesses named by him shall be recalled and, after cross-examination and re-examination (if any), they shall be discharged.
- The evidence of any remaining witnesses for the prosecution shall next be taken and after cross-examination and re-examination (if any), they shall also be discharged.
Section 247 – Evidence for defence
The accused shall then be called upon to enter upon his defence and produce his evidence; and the provisions of section 243 shall apply to the case.
Section 248 – Acquittal or conviction
- If, in any case under this Chapter in which a charge has been framed, the Magistrate finds the accused not guilty, he shall record an order of acquittal.
- Where, in any case under this Chapter, the Magistrate finds the accused guilty, hut does not proceed in accordance with the provisions of section 325 or section 360, he shall, after hearing the accused on the question of sentence, pass sentence upon him according to law.
- Where, in any case under this Chapter, a previous conviction is charged under the provisions of Sub-Section (7) of section 211 and the accused does not admit that he has been previously convicted as alleged in the charge, the Magistrate may, after he has convicted the said accused, take evidence in respect of the alleged previous conviction, and shall record a finding thereon:
Provided that no such charge shall be read out by the Magistrate nor shall the accused be asked to plead thereto nor shall the previous conviction be referred to by the prosecution or in any evidence adduced by it, unless and until the accused has been convicted under Sub-Section (2).
Section 249 – Absence of complainant
When the proceedings have been instituted upon complaint, and on any day fixed for the hearing of the case, the complainant is absent, and the offence may be lawfully compounded or is not a cognizable offence, the Magistrate may, in his discretion, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, at any time before the charge has been framed, discharge the accused.
Section 250 – Compensation for accusation without reasonable cause
- If, in any case instituted upon complaint or upon information given to a police officer or to a Magistrate, one or more persons is or are accused before a Magistrate of any offence triable by a Magistrate, and the Magistrate by whom the case is heard discharges or acquits all or any of the accused, and is of opinion that there was no reasonable ground for making the accusation against them or any of them, the Magistrate may, by his order of discharge or acquittal, if the person upon whose complaint or information the accusation was made is present, call upon him forthwith to show cause why he should not pay compensation to such accused or to each or any of such accused when there are more than one or, if such person is not present direct the issue of a summons to him to appear and show cause as aforesaid.
- The Magistrate shall record and consider any cause which such complainant or informant may show, and if he is satisfied that there was no reasonable ground for making the accusation, may, for reasons to be recorded, make an order that compensation to such amount not exceeding the amount of fine he is empowered to impose, as he may determine, be paid by such complainant or informant to the accused or to each or any of them.
- The Magistrate may, by the order directing payment of the compensation under Sub-Section (2) further order that, in default of payment, the person ordered to pay such compensation shall under go simple imprisonment for a period not exceeding thirty days.
- When any person is imprisoned under Sub-Section (3), the provisions of sections 68 and 69 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) shall, so far as may be, apply.
- No person who has been directed to pay compensation under this section shall, by reason of such order, be exempted from any civil or criminal liability in respect of the complaint made or information given by him:
Provided that any amount paid to an accused person under this section shall be taken into account in awarding compensation to such person in any subsequent civil suit relating to the same matter.
- A complainant or informant who has been ordered under Sub-Section (2) by a Magistrate of the second class to pay compensation exceeding one hundred rupees, may appeal from the order as if such complainant or informant had been convicted on a trial held by such Magistrate.
- When an order for payment of compensation to an accused person is made in a case which is subject to appeal under Sub-Section (6), the compensation shall not be paid to him before the period allowed for the presentation of the appeal has elapsed, or, if an appeal is presented, before the appeal has been decided; and where such order is made in a case which is not so subject to appeal the compensation shall not be paid before the expiration of one month from the date of the order.
- The provisions of this section apply to summons-cases as well as to warrant cases.