Directions to Criminal Courts for faster disposal of Cheque bounce cases #indianlaws

Delay in disposal of cheque bounce cases by the Courts of Law

The present writ petition was filed by the Indian Bank Association raising inter alia an issue of considerable importance and relevance to the Banking Industry – DELAY IN DISPOSAL OF CHEQUE BOUNCE CASES BY THE COURT OF LAW.

Despite introducing provisions for summary trial of cheque bounce cases and also when the offence has been made compoundable, in effect the objective and purpose with which statute was enacted and subsequently amended, remains far from any significant achievement.

The present petition sought issuance of directions to be followed by the Criminal Courts across the country dealing with cases of cheque bounce enabling them to dispose them at a much faster pace. Accordingly the following directions have been issued by the Apex Court to achieve the above target:

• On the day of presentation of complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act (Act) is presented, the same to be scrutinized and if accompanied by the affidavit alongwith documents as required and are found to be in order, the cognizance and direction for issuance of summons to be made on that very day.

• Summons must be properly addressed and sent by post as well as by e-mail address got from the complainant and in appropriate cases Court may with the assistance of the police or the nearby Court to serve notice upon the accused.

• Date directing appearance of accused should be short

• Where summons are received back un-served, immediate follow up action be taken.

• Court may indicate in the summon, that if accused makes an application for compounding of offences at the first hearing of the case and if such application is moved by the accused, Court may pass appropriate orders at the earliest.

• 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 251Cr.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 for re-calling a witness for cross-examination.

• 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.

[Indian Bank Association & Ors. vs. UOI and Ors.]
(SC, 21.04.2014)