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Synopsis

I. Introduction

II. Essentials: Rule 1-2

III. Summons to defendant: Section 27, Order 5 Rule 1

IV. Appearance in person: Rule 3

V. Exemption from appearance in person: Sections 132-33; Rule 4

VI. Contents of summons: Rule 5-8

VII. Mode of service of summons: Rules 9-30

1.Personal or direct service: Rule 10-16, 18

2. Service by court: Rule 9

3. Service by plaintiff: Rule 9-A

4. Substituted Service: Rules 17, 19-20

Basant Singh v. Roman Catholic Mission 2002

Cohen v. Nursing Dass (1892)

5. Service by post

VIII. Refusal of summons

IX. Objection as to service of summons

X. Service of summons in special cases

I. Introduction

After filing a suit, the defendant has to be informed that he is required to appear in court and defend himself. The defendant is informed by way of a summons.

The Code does not define the term "summons". Summons is a document issued by a Court, calling upun the person to whom it is issued to attend before the Judge or the Officer of the Court.

II. Essentials: Rule 1-2

1. Summons—
(1)When a suit has been duly instituted a summons may be issued to the defendant to appear and answer the claim on a day to be therein specified:
Provided that no such summons shall be issued when the defendant has appeared at the presentation of the plaint and admitted the plaintiff's claim :
Provided further that where a summons has been issued, the Court may direct the defendant to file the written statement of his defence, if any, on the date of his appearance and cause an entry to be made to that effect in the summons.
(2) A defendant to whom a summons has been issued under sub-rule (1) may appear—
(a) in person, or
(b) by a pleader duly instructed and able to answer all material questions relating to the suit, or
(c) by a pleader accompanied by some person able to answer all such questions.
(3) Every such summons shall be signed by the Judge or such officer as he appoints, and shall be sealed with the seal of the Court.

2. Copy or statement annexed to summons—
Every summons shall be accompanied by a copy of the plaint or, if so permitted, by a concise statement.

III. Summons to defendant and witnesses

Order 5 of the Code deals with summons to a defendant while Order 16 deals with summons to witnesses.

IIIA. Section 27 : Summons to defendants

WHere a suit has been duly instituted, a summons may be issued to the defendant to appear and answer the claim and may be served in manner prescribed on such day not beyond thirty days from date of the institution of the suit.

IV. Appearance in person: Rule 3

3. Court may order defendant or plaintiff to appear in person—
(1) where the Court sees reason to require the personal appearance of the defendant, the summons shall order him to appear in person in Court on the day therein specified.
(2) Where the Court sees reason to require the personal appearance of the plaintiff on the same day, it shall make an order for such appearance.

V. Exemption from appearance in person: Sections 132-133; Rule 4

132. Exemption of certain women from personal appearance—
(1)Women who, according to the customs and manners of the country, ought not to be compelled to appear in public shall be exempt from personal appearance in Court.
(2) Nothing herein contained shall be deemed to exempt such women from arrest in execution of civil process in any case in which the arrest of women is not prohibited by this Code.

133. Exemption of other persons—
(1)The following persons shall be entitled to exemption from personal appearance in Court, namely—
(i) the President of India;
(ii) the Vice-President of India;
(iii) the Speaker of the House of the People;
(iv) the Ministers of the Union;
(v) the Judges of the Supreme Court;
(vi) the Governors of States and the administrators of Union Territories;
(vii) the Speakers of the State Legislative Assemblies;
(viii) the Chairman of the State Legislative Councils;
(ix) the Ministers of States;
(x) the Judges of the High Courts; and
(xi) the persons to whom section 87B applies.

(3) Where any person claims the privilege of such exemption, and it is consequently necessary to examine him by commission, he shall pay the costs of that commission, unless the party requiring his evidence pays such costs.

4. No party to be ordered to appear in person unless resident with certain limits—
No party shall be ordered to appear in person unless he resides—
(a) within the local limits of the Court's ordinary original jurisdiction, or
(b) without such limits but at place less than fifty or (where there is railway or steamer communication or other established public conveyance for five-sixths of the distance between the place where he resides and the place where the Court is situate) less than two hundred miles distance from the Court-house.

VI. Contents of summons: Rule 5-8

5. Summons to be either to settle issues or for final disposal—
The Court shall determine, at the time of issuing the summons, whether it shall be for the settlement of issues only, or for the final disposal of the suit; and the summons shall contain a direction accordingly :
Provided that, in every suit heard by a Court of Small Causes, the summons shall be for the final disposal of the suit.

6. Fixing day for appearance of defendant—
The day for the appearance of the defendant shall be fixed with reference to the current business of the Court, the place of residence of the defendant and the time necessary for the service of the summons; and the day shall be so fixed as to allow the defendant sufficient time to enable him to appear and answer on such day.

7. Summons to order defendant to produce documents relied on by him—
The summons to appeal and answer shall order the defendant to produce all documents in his possession or power upon which he intends to rely in support of his case.

8. On issue of summons for final disposal, defendant to be directed to produce his witnesses—
Where the summons is for the final disposal of the suit, it shall also direct the defendant to produce, on the day fixed for his appearance, all witnesses upon whose evidence he intends to rely in support of his case.

VII. Mode of service of summons: Rules 9-30

9. Delivery or transmission of summons for service—
(1) Where the defendant resides within the jurisdiction of the Court in which the suit is instituted, or has an agent resident within that jurisdiction who is empowered to accept the service of the summons, the summons shall, unless the Court otherwise directs, be delivered or sent to the proper officer to be served by him or one of his subordinates.
(2) The proper officer may be an officer of a Court other than that in which the suit is instituted, and, where he is such an officer, the summons may be sent to him by post or in such other manner as the Court may direct.

10. Mode of service—
Service of the summons shall be made by delivering or tendering a copy thereof signed by the Judge or such officer as he appoints in this behalf, and sealed with the seal of the Court.

11. Service on several defendants—
Save as otherwise prescribed, where there are more defendants than one, service of the summons shall be made on each defendant.

12. Service to be on defendant on person when practicable, or on his agent—
Wherever it is practicable service shall be made on the defendant in person, unless he has an agent empowered to accept service, in which case service on such agent shall be sufficient.

13. Service on agent by whom defendant carries on business—
(1) In a suit relating to any business or work against a person who does not reside within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Court from which the summons is issued, service on any manager or agent, who, at the time of service, personally carries on such business or work for such person within such limits, shall be deemed good service.
(2) For the purpose of this rule the master of a ship shall be deemed to be the agent of the owner or chartered.

14. Service on agent in charge in suits for immovable property—
Where in a suit to obtain relief respecting, or compensation for wrong to, immovable property, service cannot be made on the defendant in person, and the defendant has no agent empowered to accept the service, it may be made on any agent of the defendant in charge of the property.

15. Where service may be on an adult member of defendant's family—
Where in a suit the defendant is absent from his residence at the time when the service of summons is sought to be effected on his at his residence and there is no likelihood of his being found at the residence within a reasonable time and he has no agent empowered to accept service of the summons on his behalf service may be made on any adult member of the family, whether male or female, who is residing with him.
Explanation.—A servant is not a member of the family within the meaning of this rule.

16. Person served to sign acknowledgement—
Where the serving officer delivers or tenders a copy of the summons to the defendant personally, or to an agent or other person on his behalf, he shall require the signature of the person to whom the copy is so delivered or tendered to an acknowledgement of service endorsed on the original summons.

17. Procedure when defendant refuses to accept service, or cannot be found—
Where the defendant or his agent or such other person as aforesaid refuses to sign the acknowledgement, or where the serving officer, after using all due and reasonable diligence, cannot find the defendant, who is absent from his residence at the time when service is sought to be effected on him at his residence and there is no likelihood of his being found at the residence within a reasonable time and there is no agent empowered to accept service of the summons on his behalf, nor any other person on whom service can be made, the serving officer shall affix a copy of the summons on the outer door or some other conspicuous part of the house in which the defendant ordinarily resides or carries on business or personally works for gain, and shall then return the original to the Court from which it was issued, with a report endorsed thereon or annexed thereto stating that he has so affixed the copy, the circumstances under which he did do, and the name and address of the person (if any) by whom the house was identified and in whose presence the copy was affixed.

18. Endorsement of time and manner of service—
The serving officer shall, in all cases in which the summons has been served under rule 16, endorse or annex, or cause to be endorsed or annexed, on or to the original summons, a return stating the time when and the manner in which the summons was served, and the name and address of the person (if any) identifying the person served and witnessing the delivery or tender of the summons.

19. Examination of serving officer.—
Where a summons is returned under rule 17, the Court shall, if the return under that rule has not been verified by the affidavit of the serving officer, and may, if it has been so verified, examine the serving officer on oath, or cause him to be so examined by another Court, touching his proceedings, and may make such further enquiry in the matter as it thinks fit; and shall either declare that the summons has been duly served or order such service as it thinks fit.

20. Substituted service—
(1) Where the Court is satisfied that there is preason to believe that the defendant is keeping out of the way for the purpose of avoiding service, or that for any other reason the summons cannot be served in the ordinary way, the Court shall order the summons to be served by affixing a copy thereof in some conspicuous place in the Court-house, and also upon some conspicuous part of the house (if any) in which the defendant is known to have last resided or carried on business or personally worked for gain, or in such other manner as the Court thinks fit.
(1A) Where the Court acting under sub-rule (1) orders service by an advertisement in a newspaper, the newspaper shall be a daily newspaper circulating in the locality in which the defendant is last known to have actually and voluntarily resided, carried on business or personally worked for gain.
(2) Effect of substituted service—
Service substituted by order of the Court shall be as effectual as if it had been made on the defendant personally.
(3) Where service substituted, time for appearance to be fixed—
Where service is substituted by order of the Court, the Court shall fix such time for the appearance of the defendant as the case may require.

21. Service of summons where defendant resides within jurisdiction of another Court—
A summons may be sent by the Court by which it is issued, whether within or without the State, either by one of its officers or by post to any Court (not being the High Court) having jurisdiction in the place where the defendant resides.

22. Service within presidency-towns of summons issued by Courts outside—
Where as summons issued by any Court established beyond the limits of the towns of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay is to be served within any such limits, it shall be sent to the Court of Small Causes within whose jurisdiction it is to be served.

23. Duty of Court to which summons is sent—
The Court to which a summons is sent under rule 21 or rule 22 shall, upon receipt thereof, proceed as if it had been issued by such Court and shall then return the summons to the Court of issue, together with the record (if any) of its proceedings with regard thereto.

24. Service on defendant in prison—
Where the defendant is confined in a prison, the summons shall be delivered or sent by post or otherwise to the officer in charge of the prison for service on the defendant.

25. Service where defendant resides out of India and has no agent—
Where the defendant resides out of India and has no agent in India empowered to accept service, the summons shall be addressed to the defendant at the place where he is residing and sent to him by post, if there is postal communication between such place and the place where the Court is situate :
Provided that where any such defendant resides in Bangladesh or Pakistan the summons, together with a copy thereof, may be sent for service on the defendant, to any Court in that country (not being the High Court) having jurisdiction in the place where the defendant resides:
Provided further that where any such defendant is a public officer in Bangladesh or Pakistan (not belonging to the Bangladesh or, as the case may be, Pakistan military naval or air forces)] or is servant of a railway company or local authority in that country, the summons, together with a copy thereof, may be sent for service on the defendant, to such officer or authority in that country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.

26. Service in foreign territory through Political Agent or Court—
Where—
(a) in the exercise of any foreign jurisdiction vested in the Central Government, a Political Agent has been appointed, or a Court has been established or continued, with power to serve a summons, issued by a Court under this code, in any foreign territory in which the defendant actually and voluntarily resides, caries on business or personally works for gain, or
(b) the Central Government has, by notification in the Official Gazette, declared, in respect of any Court situate in any such territory and not established or continued in the exercise of any such jurisdiction as aforesaid, that service by such Court of any summons issued by a Court under this Code shall be deemed to be vaild service, the summons may be sent to such Political Agent or Court, by post, or otherwise, or if so directed by the Central Government, through the Ministry of that Government dealing with foreign affairs, or in such other manner as may be specified by the Central Government for the purpose of being served upon the defendant :
and, if the Political Agent or Court returns the summons with an endorsement purporting to have been made by such Political Agent or by the Judge or other officer of the Court to the effect that the summons has been served on the defendant in the manner hereinbefore directed, such endorsement shall be deemed to be evidence of service.

26A. Summonses to be sent to officer to foreign countries—
Where the Central Government has, by notification in the Official Gazette, declared in respect of any foreign territory that summonses to be served on defendants actually and voluntarily residing or carrying on business or personally working for gain in that foreign territory may be sent to an officer of the Government of the the foreign territory specified by the Central Government, the summonses may be sent to such officer, through the Ministry of the Government of India dealing with foreign affairs or in such other manner as may be specified by the Central Government; and if such officer returns any such summons with an endorsement purporting to have been made by him that the summons has been served on the defendant, such endorsement shall be deemed to be evidence of service.

27. Service on civil public or on servant of railway officer or on servant of railway company or local authority—
Where the defendant is a public officer (not belonging to the Indian military naval or air forces, or is the servant of a railway company or local authority, the Court may, if it appears to it that the summons may be most conveniently so served, send it for service on the defendant to the head of the office in which he is ememployed together with a copy to be retained by the defendant.

28. Service on soldiers, sailors or airmen—
Where the defendant is a soldier, sailor or airman, the Court shall send the summons for service to his commanding officer together with a copy to be retained by the defendant.

29. Duty of person to whom summons is delivered or sent for service—
(1) Where a summons is delivered or sent to any person for service under rule 24, rule 27 or rule 28, such person shall be bound to serve it if possible and to return it under his signature, with the written acknowledgement of the defendant, and such signature shall be deemed to be evidence of service.
(2) Where from any cause service is impossible, the summons shall be returned to the Court with a full statement of such cause and of the steps taken to procure service, and such statement shall be deemed to be evidence of non-service.

30. Substitution of letter for summons—
(1) The Court may, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, substitute for a summons a letter signed by the Judge or such officer as he may appoint in this behalf, where the defendant is, in the opinion of the Court, of a rank entitling him to such mark of consideration.
(2) A letter substituted under sub-rule (1) shall contain all the particulars required to be stated in a summons, and, subject to the provisions of sub-rule (3), shall be treated in all respects as a summons.
(3) A letter so substituted may be sent to the defendant by spot or by a special messenger selected by the Court, or in any other manner which the Court thinks fit; and where the defendant has an agent empowered to accept service, the letter may be delivered or sent to such agent.

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