New Delhi (ABC Live): Speedy Summons Service: Reforms in service of summons Delay in service of summons is a major hurdle in the speedy delivery of justice.
Certain amendments have already been made to the CPC to address this issue. In addition to the legislative changes, the National Mission had requested High Courts and State Governments to consider measures such as a one-time collection of process fee, clubbing of process fee with the court fee, and the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems for service of process.
Speedy Summons Service
Several High Courts have responded positively to the suggestion on collection of one time process fee by stating that they have either implemented or are in the process of considering such measures. As regards the suggestion on adoption of ICT, it is noted that a majority of High Courts are yet to formalize and adopt ICT tools for the purpose of expediting process service.
Given that the efforts to make courts more ICT enabled have been ongoing for several years now, there is an urgent need for States and High Courts to act expeditiously on this issue.
Provisions relating to process service in civil cases are laid down in Section 27, 28,
29, 143 and Order V (Rules 9 to 30), Order XXVII (Rule 4), Order XXIX (Rule 2), Order XLVIII (Rules 1, 2 and 3), Order III (Rules 3, 5 and 6), Order XXVIII (Rule 3),Order XXX (Rule 3), and Order XLI (Rule 14) of the Code of Civil Procedure. Some of these provisions have been amended by Amendment Acts in 1999 and 2002 to tackle the problem of delays in court processes. The provisions that have undergone amendments are mentioned below:
- As per section 27, the summons may be served on such day not beyond thirty days from the date of the institution of suit.
- Order V Rule 1 which also deals with service of summons has been amended and states that no service of summons is necessary in case where the defendant has appeared at the time of presentation of the plaint and admitted the petitioners claim. Amendment has further added a proviso that the defendant has to file his written statement within thirty days from the date of service of summons and if the defendant fails to file the same within the prescribed period, the court may extend the time but not more than ninety
days for the reasons to be recorded in writing.
- Rule 9 Order V deals with delivery of summons by court. This Rule as amended in 2002, mandates delivery has to be either through proper officer or by post acknowledgment due or by speed post or through an approved courier, fax, email.
- Rule 9- A provides service could also be done by plaintiff by taking delivery of summons from the court and tendering the same to the defendant personally or by Fax, courier, email etc.
- Rule 9 Sub Rule 4 provides service of summons on a defendant residing outside the territorial jurisdiction of that court through any one of the courier services approved by it. An improvement over the 1999 Act insofar as the local court has now got power to approve the courier service, whereas earlier only the high courts had the power to do so. The decentralization would speed up the process of service.
- Order IX Rule 2 provides dismissal of suit where summons are not served in consequence of plaintiff’s failure to pay costs. Where on the day fixed for hearing it is found that on the failure of the plaintiff to file process fee or pay court fee or any other reason attributable to the plaintiff, service has not been affected on the defendant, the court may dismiss the suit. Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for Speedy Summons Service
Similarly, in criminal cases service of process is required for seeking production of the accused, witnesses or related parties whenever needed. If the accused is found guilty at the conclusion of the trial, he must be present in person to receive the sentence.
Also, his presence is necessary if imprisonment is to be enforced. For this reason, Chapter VI (Sections 61 to 90) of Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C) provides three ways for compelling the appearance of any person who is required to be present in the court: 1. Summons, 2. Warrant, and 3. Proclamation for person absconding While summons is an order of the court to the person to appear before it, warrant is an order of the court given to a third person (normally a police officer) to bring the person who is required to be present in the court.
It is at the discretion of the judicial officer to decide which method to be used in a particular situation, who is guided by the provisions of this code. The third method is used when the person has absconded or is in any other way avoiding arrest, in which case the court may publish a written proclamation requiring him to appear at a specified place and at a specified time not less than thirty days from the date of publication of such proclamation.
The code broadly classifies all criminal cases into summons cases and warrant cases. However, when a summons is not productive in making a person appear before the court, the court may issue a warrant to a police officer or any other person to forcibly produce the required person before the court. When a request in appropriate format is made to the court for compelling the appearance for a person, the court either rejects the request or issues a summons.
- As per Section 61, every summons issued by a court under this code shall be in writing and in duplicate. It must be signed by the presiding officer of the court or by such other officer as the high court may, from time to time, by rule direct. It must also bear the seal of the court.
A person who is summoned is legally bound to appear before the court on the given date and time. Willful disobedience is liable to be punished under Section 174 of Indian Penal Code ( IPC). It is a ground for contempt of court.
- Section 204 of Cr.P.C empowers magistrate taking cognizance of an offence to issue a summons if there is sufficient ground for proceeding in a summons case. If it is a warrants case, he may issue a warrant or a summons as he thinks fit.
- The summons should contain adequate particulars such as the date, time, and place, of the offence charged. It should also contain the date, time, and 5 place where the summoned person is supposed to appear. The standard format of a summons is given in Form 1 of second schedule.
- Section 62 describes the procedure for serving a summons on a person as follows – (i) Every summons shall be served by a police officer, or subject to such rules as the state government may make in this behalf, by an officer of the court issuing it or other public servant. (ii) The summons shall, if practicable, be served personally on the person summoned, by delivering or tendering to him one of the copies of the summons. (iii) Every person on whom a summons is so served shall, if so required by the serving officer, sign a receipt thereof on the back of the other copy.
- Section 65 lays down the procedure for service of summons by way of affixation and Section 69 states that the service of summons on a witness can also be done by post in addition to other modes of service.
- However, Section 87 empowers a magistrate to issue a warrant even if the case is a summons case if he has reason to believe that the summons will be disobeyed. He must record his reasons for this action.
- Section 202 of Cr.P.C deals with postponement of issue of process. Many a times false complaints are filed against persons residing at far off places simply to harass them which also leads to clogging of frivolous litigation. In order to see that innocent persons are not harassed by unscrupulous persons, this section was amended in 2005 to make it obligatory upon the magistrate that before summoning the accused residing beyond his jurisdiction he shall enquire into the case himself or direct investigation to be made by a police officer or any other person he thinks fit for finding out whether there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
- Section 105 provides for reciprocal arrangements to be made by Central Government with the foreign governments with regard to the service of summons / warrants/ judicial processes. Ministry of Home Affairs have issued 6 comprehensive guidelines for service of summons/notices/judicial process on the persons residing abroad.
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