Report No. 141
5.4.1. Magnitude of consequences.-
In this connection, it would be useful to glance at the categorisation of cases as summons cases and warrant cases under the Code, in order to assess the magnitude of the consequences flowing from the absence of the power to restore the matter. A "Summons Case", as defined in section 2(v) of the Code, means a case relating to an offence and not being a warrant case. A "Warrant Case" as per section 2(x), means a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years. Thus, all cases relating to offences punishable with imprisonment upto two years become summons cases triable under Chapter 20 of the Code which contains section 256.
5.4.2. A perusal of Appendix I listing summons cases under Indian Penal Code and Appendix II listing summons cases under some other Central Acts, would show that many of the offences triable as summons cases cannot be termed as petty of trivial, either from the point of view of the aggrieved person or from the point of view of the community at large.
A few illustrations may be useful.-Thus, as regards the offences under the Indian Penal Code, the instance of simple cheating (section 417) may be cited. The punishment is imprisonment upto one year. It is non-cognizable. One can also cite the example of offence under section 427 (mischief) (causing damage of Its. 50 or more). Punishment is imprisonment upto two years. It is also non-cognizable. Even criminal intimidation (section 506, first part) punishable with imprisonment upto two years is a summons case and non-cognizable.
So also in regard to an offence under section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), carrying simple imprisonment upto one year. Although the offence is cognizable, yet it may happen that in practice, cognisance was taken on complaint of the woman. In all such cases the cognisance would have been, taken only on a complaint and the aforementioned consequences would follow in the event of the absence of the complainant.
5.4.3. Even in regard to offences under special laws, where the offence is cognizable, cognizance may have been taken by the court on a complaint. Thus, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, section 8(1), makes the offences under that Act cognizable for certain purposes, but section 7(1)(b) of the same Act prohibits cognizance except on the knowledge of the court, police report or complaint by the person aggrieved etc., or by a recognised welfare institution or organisation.
Punishment for demanding dowry is imprisonment upto two years (section 4), so that the offence relating thereto becomes a summons case. In such cases, also non-appearance by the complainant or the welfare organisation will lead to acquittal. Evidently, therefore, there exists the need to amend the law, so as to avoid injustice in all such cases.