Summons, Warrants and Proclamation – Meaning and Difference


The code of criminal procedure, 1973 is a procedural branch of law. The code of criminal procedure, 1973 basically deals with the rules and procedure to be followed while dealing with criminal cases in India. The jurisprudential essence of code of criminal procedure has to be seen in light of balance done within the mechanism of criminal procedure.

The societal interest involved is that the crime is considered to be a wrong against society at large, however, at the same time the accused also have some fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India.  Therefore while dealing with criminal cases, the authority (police) & courts must adhere with the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


Chapter XVI, section 204 of the act (Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973) deals with the issue of process. According to Cr.P.C, the magistrate has three options available with him whenever a complaint is made/registered-:

1) Issue of process (Section 204),

2) Postpone the issue of process (Section 202) and

3) Dismissal of complaint (Section 203).

After the examination of complainant on satisfying the complaint to be genuine, the magistrate shall issue process to accused. The issue of process is the first stage of the commencement of the proceedings before magistrate.

In layman’s term issue of process means a stage where charges were laid before the magistrate and accused is notified/communicated about the same. Basically, the issue of process is a type of formal, legal document for the accused communicating his presence before the magistrate. According to section 204 of the CrPc, 1973 process can be of two types-: (a) Summons, (b) Warrants.

“Section 204 Issue of process.—

If in the opinion of a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence there is sufficient ground for proceeding, and the case appears to be— (a) a summons-case, he shall issue his summons for the attendance of the accused, or (b) a warrant-case, he may issue a warrant, or, if he thinks fit, a summons, for causing the accused to be brought or to appear at a certain time before such Magistrate or (if he has no jurisdiction himself) some other Magistrate having jurisdiction.”[2]


In summon case i.e case relating to offence and not being a warrant case magistrate shall issue summons for the attendance of the accused.

Summon is a legal document containing an order to appear before court/ magistrate. A summon is always issued by the court through his officer (police officer). Summons are the document where court order specific person to appear on a specific date and time for a specific case.

The main purpose or object of serving the summons are, the person against whom complaint/case is filed can appear before the court to answer the allegations made against him.

Chapter XX, Section 251-259 of the Cr.P.C, 1973 deals with the trial of summon cases by the magistrate. As above said summon cases are cases relating to an offence, not being a warrant case i.e cases in which punishment is imprisonment for term not exceeding two years.


A warrant is a command or order to police officer to produce the person before the court. Basically warrant is a legal document which is issued by a magistrate to police officer to allow him or her to perform particular act that would otherwise would be illegal as it may infringe the rights of the person, therefore through warrants police officer can search the person, house or can seize the property etc. to ensure justice.

Mainly there are two types of warrants that a magistrate can issue, i.e Bailable warrants and Non-bailable warrants (NBW). In bailable warrant, the police officer will make sure that the presence of the accused person before the magistrate/court without taking him in custody.

Whereas in non-bailable warrant (NBW) the police officer is bound to arrest the person and produce him before the court and then only the court will either grant the bail to that person or remand him to custody.


MEANING A legal order issued by a magistrate to accused or witnesses to appear before the court on particular date & time. A legal order issued by court to police officer to perform certain act which would otherwise violates the rights of an individual
CONTAIN Order to appear or to produce documents Order to arrest the accused person and produce him in the court.
ADDRESSED TO Accused or witnesses Police officer
OBJECTIVE To make a person appear in court. To arrest the accused and produce him in court.


In normal circumstances, the court will first issue summons to the person for the appearance in the court. According to section 204(5) of Cr.P.C, 1973 it is stated that section 204 will not affect the provisions of section 87 of CrPc, 1973. Section 87 empowers court to issue a warrant in lieu of summons.  Now besides summons and warrants, the court has another option available to compel the appearance of the person, i.e “Proclamation”.

If the person whose presence is required in the court in particular case, avoid the arrest or is an absconder then in such cases proclamation can be issued according to section 82 Cr.P.C.

A proclamation is a final opportunity given by court to the person (accused) to appear before the court, failing which he will declared as “proclaimed offender” or “absconder”. This proclamation is announced publicly by police officer giving him final chance to appear before court within 30 days or more. Along with this proclamation proceedings also attach his properties (section 83) compelling him to appear.

After being declared as proclaimed offender person can be arrested by the police officer without warrant, his property attached can be sold.


Through the above discussion we can conclude that the court has three ways to compel the appearance of the person. i.e summons, warrants & proclamation. The first step is sending summons. Summons are the formal legal document which order the person to appear in court on particular date & time. Through summons court can also order the production of any documents required in proceedings. If the person avoids the summons or not appearing before the court after giving notice, then the court may issue warrants against him.

Warrants are the legal document issued by the magistrate to police officers authorizing them to perform certain acts which would otherwise violate the individual’s rights, therefore the main purpose of the warrant is to arrest the person and produce him before the court. Still, if the person accused ignores the summons and warrants then the court will proceed with proclamation proceedings against him giving him last and final opportunity to appear in the court. The proclamation is the last possible way to compel appearance of an accused.

This article is authored by Manmeet Singh, Third-Year, BBA. LL.B student Delhi Metropolitan Education, Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University.

Also Read –  Difference Between Cognizable Offence And Non Cognizable Offence

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