Indian Bank Association v. Union of India
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 18 of 2013
JUDGES: K.S. Radhakrishnan, Vikramjit Sen, JJ.
Date of Decision: 21-4-2014
The Petitioners filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court on the ground that the banking industry has been put to a considerable disadvantage due to the delay in disposing of the cases relating to Negotiable Instruments Act. The Petitioner banks being custodian of public funds find it difficult to expeditiously recover huge amount of public fund which are blocked in cases pending under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. Petitioners submitted that, in spite of the fact, Chapter XIV has been introduced in the Negotiable Instruments Act by
section 4 of the Banking, Public Financial Institutions and Negotiable Instruments Laws (Amendment) Act, 1988, to enhance the acceptability of cheques in settlement of liability by making the drawer liable for penalties in case of bouncing of cheques due to insufficiency of funds, the desired object of the Amendment Act has not achieved. The Petitioners prayed, inter alia, for laying down appropriate guidelines/directions to be followed by all Courts within the territory of India competent to try a complaint under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 to follow and comply with the mandate of section 143 of the said Act read with sections 261 to 265 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for summary trial of such complaints filed or pending before the said Courts.
Direction issued to Trial Courts for disposal of cases relating to dishonour of cheques.
It is directed that all Criminal Courts in the country dealing with section 138 cases to follow the following procedures for speedy and expeditious disposal of cases falling under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act:
(1) Metropolitan Magistrate/Judicial Magistrate (MM/JM), on the day when the complaint under section 138 of the Act is presented, shall scrutinize the complaint and, if the complaint is accompanied by the affidavit, and the affidavit and the documents, if any, are found to be in order, take cognizance and direct issuance of summons.
(2) MM/JM should adopt a pragmatic and realistic approach while issuing summons. Summons must be properly addressed and sent by post as well as by e-mail address got from the complainant. Court, in appropriate cases, may take the assistance of the police or the nearby Court to serve notice to the accused. For notice of appearance, a short date be fixed. If the summons is received back un-served, immediate follow up action be taken.
(3) Court may indicate in the summon that if the accused makes an application for compounding of offences at the first hearing of the case and, if such an application is made, Court may pass appropriate orders at the earliest.
(4) Court should direct the accused, when he appears to furnish a bail bond, to ensure his appearance during trial and ask him to take notice under section 251, Cr.P.C. to enable him to enter his plea of defence and fix the case for defence evidence, unless an application is made by the accused under section 145(2) for re-calling a witness for cross-examination.
(5) The Court concerned must ensure that examination-in-chief, cross- examination and re-examination of the complainant must be conducted within three months of assigning the case. The Court has option of accepting affidavits of the witnesses, instead of examining them in Court. Witnesses to the complaint and accused must be available for cross-examination as and when there is direction to this effect by the Court.