16th April, 2021
The Supreme Court has issued guidelines for speedy disposal of cheque bounce lawsuits. At the same time, the court has asked the central government to make appropriate amendments in the legal provisions regarding various cases filed against the same person within 12 months of the cheque bounce. The order was given by a five-member constitution bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde on Friday.
A total of 2.31 crore cases were pending in the country's courts till December 31, 2019, out of which 35.16 lakh cases are due to cheque bounce under Section-138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The court is hearing the case with automatic cognizance. The court issued these guidelines after conducting a detailed hearing on the issue of speedy disposal of cheque bounce cases and the suggestions of the amicus curiae, other parties, the government, and the RBI.
The Supreme Court has requested the High Courts across the country to issue procedural instructions to the magistrates that if they convert the complaint of the cheque bounce case under Section-138 from the Summary Trial to the Summary Trial, then the reason for this in the order Will have to be recorded When the accused remains outside the jurisdiction of the magistrate concerned, the magistrate shall investigate the complaint of cheque bounce and file that there is sufficient basis for proceeding against the accused.
The Supreme Court held that under Section-202 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, it is permissible to testify on the affidavit on behalf of the complainant, in appropriate cases, the Magistrate may conduct an inquiry on the basis of test of documents without insisting on the test of witnesses.
The bench has asked the High Courts to issue directions to magistrates that service of summons in one case in different cases related to the same transaction should be considered as service of summons in all cases. The court said it is true that the trial court does not have the right to reconsider or withdraw its order for issuing summons, but this would allow the trial court to revisit the process issued in case of not having jurisdiction under Section-322 The authority of it is not affected.
The Supreme Court said that the committee constituted by the court will consider the amendment in the law on the aspect of withdrawing and changing the order of summons in the case of cheque bounce. Talking about the committee's views on other issues as well, the court ordered the matter to be put up for hearing before a three-judge bench after eight weeks. It may be noted that the Supreme Court had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of a retired judge of the Bombay High Court to consider speedy disposal of cheque bounce cases.