Saturday, June 20, 2015

Govt. issues ordinance to allow filing of complaint on cheque bouncing at place where payee maintains the account

Recently, there had been a dispute relating to the place of jurisdiction for filing complaint against dishonouring of cheque. The dispute arose mainly in those cases where complaint was filed in jurisdiction of that Court where cheque was presented even if drawer-bank was located in different jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court in case of Dashrath Rupsingh Rathod v. State of Maharashtra [2014] 49 497 (SC) cleared air on this issue and it interpreted provisions of Negotiable Instrument Act relating to place of jurisdiction for filing complaint. It ruled that complaint for dishounouring of cheque can be filed only at territorial jurisdiction of that Court where cheque is dishonoured by bank on which it is drawn.

Various stakeholder expressed difficulties on Supreme Court’s verdict with regard to the legal interpretation regarding place of jurisdiction in case of dishonouring of cheque. In order to address the difficulties of stakeholders the Government has issued Negotiable Instrument (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 (‘NI Ordinance, 2015’).

The NI Ordinance, 2015 provides that the offence of cheque dishonour shall be enquired into and tried only by a court within whose local jurisdiction –

(a)the bank branch of the payee (viz, the place where the payee presents the cheque for payment) is situated, if the cheque is delivered for collection through an account; or

(b)the branch of the drawee bank where drawer maintain the account is situated, if the cheque is presented for payment by the payee or holder in due course otherwise through an account.

Further, all cases arising out of Section 138* which are pending in any court before the commencement of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 shall be transferred to the court having jurisdiction as per revised position. Also, in case of more that one prosecution filed by the same payee against the same drawer of cheques is pending before different courts, upon bringing the said fact to the notice of court, such court shall transfer the case to the court having jurisdiction under norms. *The Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881 (‘NI Act’) deals with the offence relating to cheque dishonour for insufficiency, etc., of funds in the drawers account on which the cheque is drawn for the discharge of any legally enforceable debt or other liability. The section 138 of the NI Act provides for penalties in case of dishonour of cheques due to insufficiency of funds in the account of the drawer of the cheque.

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