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Difference between Summon and Warrant

Warrant and summon serve the same purpose as both order a person charged with a criminal or traffic offense to appear in the court before the judge. Though both are issued with the same purpose, they are different from each other. Let us understand the difference between summon and warrant!

Summon:

Summon is a type of notice issued by the court to a person to appear in the court or to produce a document before the judge in the court. It can also be defined as a legal document delivered to the defendant (accused) or a witness in accordance with the lawsuit. It is issued in the form of a legal document with details such as name of the individual who lodged the complaint and the name of the accused.

A summon is served when an aggrieved party initiate a case against the defendant (accused). The court orders to issue summon to the defendant to notify that he or she is sued and need to appear in the court. It can be issued to any person directly or indirectly involved in the case.

The office of the court, police officer or any other public servant delivers the summon to the defendant. However, summon, which is issued to the witness, is delivered by the registered post. The witness is required to sign the acknowledgement letter on receiving the summon.

Warrant:

Warrant is a written authorization issued by a judge or magistrate to a police officer to allow him or her perform a specific act, that otherwise would be illegal as it may violate the fundamental rights of a citizen. The warrant allows police officer to apprehend someone, search the premises, or seize a property, etc., in order to regulate justice.

It is issued in writing in a prescribed format. It is signed by the presiding officer and contains the seal of the court. It contains the relevant details like name and designation of the law enforcement officer and the name and description of the person to be arrested and the offence for which it is issued.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between Summon and Warrant are as follows:

Summon Warrant
It is a legal order issued by the presiding officer to the defendant or a witness or any other person involved in a case. It is a written authorization issued by a judicial officer like judge or magistrate to a police officer to authorize or empower him to perform an act in order to regulate justice.
It orders the defendant to appear in the court or to produce a document or thing before the court. It is an official authorization to the law enforcement officer to arrest the accused and produce before the judge in the court.
It is addressed to the defendant, witness and any other person involved in the case. It is addressed to the police officer, not to the accused.
In a summon case the complainant may withdraw the complaint with the permission of the magistrate. In a warrant case, the complainant cannot withdraw the complaint.
A magistrate can convert a summon case into a warrant case. A warrant case cannot be converted into a summon case.
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