Is a Summons meant to be only and always In Writing?

Hi Manish.
I can't thank you enough for all the excellent and important information on your website. Let me quickly come to my situation here.

My story (only recent events): I am from Lucknow and my wife is from Kanpur. I have received a number of calls in the last month from a police station in my in-laws' town where my wife seems to have filed a 498A complaint against me and my family.

The man on the phone said that he is a policeman at one of the police stations in Kanpur Dehat and that my wife has registered a complaint regarding dowry harassment with them. He asked me and my family to come to the police station and settle the matter. We haven't gone there yet.

I have reason to believe that no complaint has been filed and my in-laws have just bribed a policeman to call me and make me come to their town where they will have some of their relatives and a "Dada/Bhai" kind of guy whom they are friends with and belongs to our community, to insult and humiliate my family with false allegations, to extort money and give some concessions to them. Hence I don't want to visit my in-laws town unless necessary.

My question : Isn't it that the law/process mandates police to send a written summons to husband to appear at the CAW cell? I have just got a number of phone calls from a policeman asking me to appear at a particular police station and have not received any kind of written communication from the police. Are there any exceptions in which the police may not send a written summons (like husband's residence being out of town as it is in my case)?

Best regards,
Bhaskar Bhatatawadekar

P.S.: When you publish this, please only include my question and your answer and not the story as I am afraid my wife will identify me if she finds and reads it.

P.P.S : I would like to keep writing to you, taking your advice and asking you questions while I am still in this difficult phase of my life. I hope you would be able to find time and respond to at least few of them. Sorry for my bad English.


Dear Shri Bhatatawadekar
Today being Chhoti Diwali, I am not confident of reaching a lawyer to answer your question from a legal point of view. I will provide my own layman's viewpoint to you presently.

You fear of being identified by a certain individual is unfounded. This story is being repeated in thousands of places across our country every week, and is one of the most common experiences in legal battles.

Really how can you trust any joker who calls you on the phone and claims to be a policeman? I don't think that the law works on a verbal basis in this country or any other country. You may have seen yesterday's newspaper. There is an SC order now which says that even the Prime Minister inter alios can be firmly requested to give instructions in writing if he wishes something to be carried out. You are talking about a mere policeman, or to be more correct, about a voice on a phone line which claims to belong a to a human being who is a policeman who works in a specific location.

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry at your baseless fear. You might wish to consider making a complaint to the police in your city about these telephone calls. Any unauthorised demand by a third party to come and settle any matter might be considered illegal under the law, this is my strong feeling.

There is a Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) decision dated Valentine's Day 2012 wherein it has been held that it becomes clear upon a cumulative reading of various provisions contained within it, that the CrPC does not permit any policeman to call any person without a written summons. This is all that I have been able to find on this question.

Your English is fine. Thank you for your appreciation.

Cheers and have a happy and safe Diwali
Manish Udar

Only courts have the power to issue summonses. No other authority can issue a summons to any person. Police is only authorised to issue a notice to appear u/s 160 Cr.P.C. Such a notice cannot be called a summons.

Avnish Gupta

Published by Manish Udar

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Last updated on 05th November 2013
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