Section 90 CrPC: Provisions of This Chapter Generally Applicable to Summonses and Warrants of Arrest

The Indian Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) serves as the backbone of the criminal justice system in India, ensuring fair and just legal proceedings. Among its numerous sections, Section 90 CrPC holds a pivotal role in standardizing the procedures related to the issuance and execution of summonses and warrants of arrest.

section 90 crpc

This article delves into the comprehensive provisions of Section 90 CrPC, offering an insightful analysis of its application and significance within the legal framework.

Bare Act. Section 90 Cr.P.C.
Provisions of this Chapter generally applicable to summonses and warrants of arrest.

The provisions contained in this Chapter relating to a summons and warrant, and their issue, service and execution, shall, so far as may be, apply to every summons and every warrant of arrest issued under this Code.

Understanding Section 90 CrPC

Historical Context

The origins of Section 90 CrPC can be traced back to the colonial era when the British administration sought to codify criminal procedures in India. The primary aim was to establish a uniform system that would ensure due process and uphold the rule of law. Over the years, various amendments have been introduced to refine these procedures, making them more effective and equitable.

Key Provisions

Section 90 CrPC outlines that the provisions of this chapter, which deal with summonses and warrants, are generally applicable unless otherwise provided. This means that the principles and procedures set out in the chapter must be followed for all cases involving summonses and warrants, ensuring consistency and fairness in legal processes.


The applicability of Section 90 CrPC extends to all criminal proceedings where the issuance of summonses and warrants is required. This includes a wide array of cases, ranging from minor offenses to serious crimes. The uniform application of these provisions ensures that all individuals are treated equally under the law, reinforcing the principles of justice and fairness.

Summonses Under Section 90 CrPC

Definition and Purpose

A summons is a legal document issued by a court or a magistrate directing an individual to appear before it at a specified time and place. The primary purpose of a summons is to ensure the presence of a person in court, whether as a witness, defendant, or for any other legal requirement. Summonses serve as a crucial tool in the judicial process, facilitating orderly and timely court proceedings.

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Procedures for Issuance

The issuance of a summons involves a systematic procedure. The court or magistrate must first be satisfied that there are sufficient grounds to summon the individual. Once this determination is made, the summons is drafted, specifying the particulars of the case, the time and place of appearance, and any other relevant details. It is then signed by the issuing authority and dispatched to the individual.

Compliance Requirements

Upon receiving a summons, the recipient is legally obligated to comply with its terms. Failure to do so can result in penalties, including fines or even arrest. The recipient must appear in court at the specified time and place, and any deviations from this can be considered contempt of court. Compliance with summonses is essential for the smooth functioning of the judicial system.

Warrants of Arrest Under Section 90 CrPC

Definition and Types

A warrant of arrest is a written order issued by a court or magistrate directing law enforcement officers to apprehend an individual and bring them before the court. Warrants are typically issued in cases where there is a reasonable belief that the individual has committed a crime and is likely to evade justice. There are several types of warrants, including bailable and non-bailable warrants, each serving a specific purpose based on the nature of the offense.

Issuance Procedures

The process of issuing a warrant of arrest is more stringent compared to summonses. The court or magistrate must have substantial evidence or reasonable suspicion to justify the issuance of a warrant. This involves a thorough examination of the case details, witness testimonies, and other relevant factors. Once issued, the warrant contains detailed instructions for the arrest and subsequent presentation of the individual in court.

Execution Process

Executing a warrant of arrest involves law enforcement officers actively seeking out and apprehending the individual named in the warrant. This process must be carried out in accordance with the legal protocols to ensure the rights of the individual are not violated. The arrested person must be informed of the grounds of arrest and must be presented before the court within the stipulated time frame, usually within 24 hours.

Comparative Analysis

Summons vs. Warrant

While both summonses and warrants are instruments of the court used to ensure an individual’s appearance in legal proceedings, they differ significantly in their application and implications. Summonses are typically used for less severe cases and require voluntary compliance, whereas warrants involve a more coercive approach, often used in serious offenses where there is a risk of the individual absconding.

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Case Studies

Examining case studies can provide valuable insights into the practical application of Section 90 CrPC. For instance, in a high-profile financial fraud case, the issuance of warrants of arrest against key suspects played a crucial role in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Conversely, in cases involving minor civil disputes, summonses have proven effective in ensuring timely resolution without resorting to arrest.

Legal Framework

Related Sections

Section 90 CrPC is intrinsically linked with several other sections of the Criminal Procedure Code, including Sections 61 to 70, which detail the procedures for summonses, and Sections 70 to 81, which outline the provisions for warrants. Understanding these related sections is essential for a comprehensive grasp of the legal framework governing summonses and warrants.

Judicial Interpretations

Judicial interpretations of Section 90 CrPC have further clarified its scope and application. Courts have consistently emphasized the need for due process and adherence to legal protocols when issuing and executing summonses and warrants. These interpretations have reinforced the principles of justice and ensured that the provisions of Section 90 CrPC are applied fairly and uniformly.

Practical Implications

Challenges in Implementation

Despite the clear provisions of Section 90 CrPC, there are practical challenges in its implementation. These include delays in the issuance and execution of summonses and warrants, lack of coordination between different law enforcement agencies, and instances of non-compliance by recipients. Addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

Best Practices

Adopting best practices can significantly enhance the effectiveness of Section 90 CrPC. These include ensuring timely issuance and execution of summonses and warrants, providing adequate training to law enforcement officers, and leveraging technology to streamline processes. Best practices also involve fostering a culture of compliance and accountability within the judicial system.

Reforms and Recommendations

Legislative Changes

To address the evolving needs of the criminal justice system, periodic legislative changes to Section 90 CrPC and related provisions are necessary. These changes should aim at simplifying procedures, reducing delays, and enhancing the overall efficiency of the legal process. Legislative reforms should also focus on protecting the rights of individuals while ensuring swift and effective justice.

Policy Recommendations

Policy recommendations play a crucial role in shaping the implementation of Section 90 CrPC. These include promoting greater awareness about the legal provisions among the general public, strengthening inter-agency collaboration, and ensuring adequate resources for the judicial and law enforcement systems. Effective policy measures can bridge the gap between legal provisions and their practical application.

Case Law

Landmark Judgments

Several landmark judgments have shaped the interpretation and application of Section 90 CrPC. These judgments have addressed various aspects, such as the validity of warrants, procedural requirements for summonses, and the rights of individuals under arrest. Analyzing these judgments provides a deeper understanding of the legal nuances and the judicial perspective on Section 90 CrPC.

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Recent Developments

Recent developments in case law continue to influence the application of Section 90 CrPC. Courts have increasingly emphasized the importance of procedural fairness and have taken a stringent stance against any deviations from established protocols. Keeping abreast of these developments is crucial for legal practitioners and law enforcement officials.


Summary of Key Points

Section 90 CrPC serves as a cornerstone of the criminal justice system, ensuring the uniform application of procedures related to summonses and warrants of arrest. Its provisions are designed to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and due process, providing a robust framework for legal proceedings. Understanding and adhering to these provisions is essential for maintaining the integrity of the judicial system.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the continuous evolution of the legal landscape necessitates ongoing reforms and adaptations to Section 90 CrPC. Embracing technological advancements, enhancing inter-agency cooperation, and promoting greater public awareness are key to ensuring that the provisions of Section 90 CrPC remain effective and relevant in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

A summons is a legal notice requiring an individual’s appearance in court, typically for minor offenses. In contrast, a warrant is a court order authorizing law enforcement to arrest and present an individual before the court, often used in more serious cases.

There are mainly two types of warrants under Section 90 CrPC: bailable warrants, which allow the arrested person to be released on bail, and non-bailable warrants, which do not permit bail and require the individual to be brought directly before the court.

Ignoring a summons can lead to legal consequences, including fines or arrest. The court may issue a warrant for the individual’s arrest to ensure their presence in legal proceedings.

A warrant is executed by law enforcement officers who apprehend the individual named in the warrant and present them before the court. The process must adhere to legal protocols to ensure the individual’s rights are protected.

Challenges include delays in issuance and execution, lack of coordination between agencies, and non-compliance by recipients. Addressing these requires improved systems, training, and resource allocation.