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CHEQUE BOUNS

whether after the notice issued under clause (b) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”), is received by the drawer of the cheque, the payee or holder of the cheque, who does not take any action on the basis of such notice within the period prescribed under Section 138 of the Act, is entitled to send a fresh notice in respect of the same cheque and, thereafter, proceed to file a complaint under Section 138 of the Act.

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 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.46 OF 2010
 (@ SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL) NO.6676 OF 2008)

Tameeshwar Vaishnav .. Appellant

 Vs.

Ramvishal Gupta .. Respondent

 WITH

 CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 47 OF 2010
 (@ S.L.P. (CRL.) NO.6593 OF 2008)

 J U D G M E N T

ALTAMAS KABIR, J.

1. Delay of 31 days and 39 days in re-filing the

Special Leave Petitions is condoned.

2. Leave granted.
 2

3. The short point for decision in these Appeals

is whether after the notice issued under clause (b)

of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act,

1881 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act"), is

received by the drawer of the cheque, the payee or

holder of the cheque, who does not take any action

on the basis of such notice within the period

prescribed under Section 138 of the Act, is

entitled to send a fresh notice in respect of the

same cheque and, thereafter, proceed to file a

complaint under Section 138 of the Act.

4. In S.L.P.(Crl.) No.6676 of 2008 arising out of

Criminal Case No.399 of 2006 pending before the

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Khairagarh,

the Respondent had filed a complaint under Section

138 of the Act, for dishonour of a cheque dated 16th

March, 2006, bearing No.0864961 for Rs.40,000/-

drawn on the Bank of Maharashtra, Khairagarh

Branch, in favour of the Respondent. S.L.P. (Crl.)
 3

No.6593 of 2008 is directed against the judgment of

the High Court dated 27th March, 2008, in Crl.

Revision No.130 of 2006 arising out of Criminal

Case No.339 of 2006 pending with the Additional

Chief Judicial Magistrate, Khairagarh, in respect

of a similar cheque dated 20th March, 2006, bearing

No.0864962 amounting to Rs.40,000/- drawn on the

Bank of Maharashtra, Khairagarh Branch, in favour

of the Respondent. As stated hereinabove, both the

said cheques were dishonoured on the ground of

insufficient funds. The cheque issued on 20th

March, 2006, bearing No.0864962 was dishonoured on

22nd March, 2006, on the ground of insufficient

funds. Similarly, cheque bearing No.0864961 dated

16th March, 2006, was dishonoured on 16th March,

2006. Consequently, the Respondent issued notices

as contemplated under Clause (b) of the proviso to

Section 138 of the Act asking the Appellant to make

payment of the cheque amounts within 15 days.

Although, the notice was duly served upon the
 4

Appellant, the Respondent did not take any steps to

file the complaint within the period prescribed in

Section 142 of the Act. On the other hand, the

Respondent sent a second notice to the Appellant in

respect of the two cheques on 7th June, 2006, and,

ultimately, when no response was received to the

same, he filed two separate complaints before the

learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate,

Khairagarh, District Rajanandgaon, Chhattisgarh, on

which process was issued by the learned Magistrate

after recording the statement of the respondent-

complainant.

5. Against such order issuing process on both the

complaints, the Appellant filed Criminal Revision

Nos.130 and 131 of 2006 in the Court of the

Additional Sessions Judge, Khairagarh, District

Rajanandgaon, on 21st November, 2006. On 19th March,

2007, the learned Additional District Judge,

Khairagarh, dismissed both the Revision
 5

Applications holding that the grounds raised

therein could be decided after evidence was led by

the parties.

6. On 15th May, 2007, the Appellant filed Crl.

Misc. Petition Nos.177 of 2007 and 178 of 2007

before the Chhattisgarh High Court under Section

482 Cr.P.C. for quashing the order passed by the

Additional Sessions Judge, Khairagarh, on 19th

March, 2007. The High Court ultimately dismissed

both the Petitions by the orders impugned in these

Appeals.

7. On behalf of the Appellant, it was contended

that the learned Magistrate had erred in taking

cognizance on the complaints filed by the

Respondent, since the complaints stood barred under

the provisions of the proviso to Section 138 of the

Act. It was urged that when the complainant-

respondent did not take any action on the basis of

the first notice issued on 30th March, 2006, a
 6

second notice in regard to the self-same cheque was

barred under the proviso to Section 138 of the Act.

In support of his said submission, the learned

counsel firstly referred to and relied on the

decision of this Court in Sadanandan Bhadran vs.

Madhavan Sunil Kumar [(1998) 6 SCC 514], wherein

this Court held that the cause of action to file

complaint on non-payment despite issue of notice,

arises but once. Another cause of action would not

arise on repeated dishonour on re-presentation.

Learned counsel pointed out that this Court also

held that while the payee was free to present the

cheque repeatedly within its validity period, once

notice had been issued and payments not received

within 15 days of the receipt of the notice, the

payee has to avail the very cause of action arising

thereupon and file the complaint. Dishonour of the

cheque on each re-presentation does not give rise

to a fresh cause of action. Taking note of the

amendment to Section 142(b) of the Act, this Court
 7

also held that the complaint would have to be filed

within one month from the day immediately following

the day on which the period of 15 days from the

date of receipt of the first notice by the drawer

expires.

8. Learned counsel then referred to another

decision of this Court in Prem Chand Vijay Kumar

vs. Yashpal Singh & Anr. [(2005) 4 SCC 417],

wherein the view expressed in Sadanandan Bhadran's

case (supra) was reiterated. Learned counsel

submitted that in view of the aforesaid decisions

of this Court which authoritatively explained that

cause of action arises only once on the issuance of

notice upon dishonour of the cheque and receipt

thereof by the accused, the learned Magistrate had

erred in law in taking cognizance on the basis of

the second notice whereas the cause of action had

arisen under the first notice dated 30th March,

2006, which clearly indicates that the complaint
 8

filed on 10th July, 2006, was well outside the

period of limitation prescribed in the proviso to

Section 138 of the Act. Learned counsel submitted

that the subsequent order passed by the High Court

affirming the order of the Magistrate issuing

process suffers from the same vice and both the

orders were, therefore, liable to be set aside.

10. The submissions made on behalf of the Appellant

were vehemently opposed on behalf of the Respondent

on the ground that having regard to the assurance

given by the Appellant to the Respondent and the

request made to present the cheque for the second

time, even after issuance of the first notice, it

must be held that the delay, if any, in filing the

complaint had been condoned by the learned

Magistrate in keeping with the proviso to Section

142(b) of the Act.

11. Learned counsel submitted that the decisions

cited on behalf of the Appellant had been
 9

subsequently considered by this Court in S.L.

Constructions vs. Alapati Srinivasa Rao [(2009) 1

SCC 500], in which the decisions of this Court in

Sadanandan Bhadran's case (supra) and Prem Chand

Vijay Kumar's case (supra), had been noted and

considered.

12. Learned counsel submitted that in view of the

promise held out by the Appellant and his request

to present the cheque for the second time, the

Respondent had refrained from taking any action on

the basis of the first notice which was the cause

of the delay in making the complaint. Upon

issuance of process, it must be held that the Court

was satisfied that there was sufficient cause for

making the complaint after the prescribed period.

13. Learned counsel urged that having regard to the

above, no interference was called for with the

order of the learned Magistrate taking cognizance
 10

or the order of the High Court affirming the said

order.

14. We have given our anxious thought to the

submissions made on behalf of the respective

parties, having regard to the apparently different

views expressed in Sadanandan Bhadran's case

(supra), Prem Chand Vijay Kumar's case (supra) and

the latest decision in S.L. Construction's case

(supra).

15. On careful scrutiny of the decision in S.L.

Construction's case (supra), it would appear that

the facts on the basis of which the said decision

was rendered, were different from a case of mere

presentation and dishonour of the cheque after

issuance of notice under the proviso to Section 138

of the Act. While the decision in Sadanandan

Bhadran's case (supra), clearly spells out that a

cheque may be presented several times within the

period of its validity, the cause of action for a
 11

complaint under Section 138 of the Act arises but

once, with the issuance of notice after dishonour

of the cheque and the receipt thereof by the

drawer. The same view has been reiterated in Prem

Chand Vijay Kumar's case (supra). The only

distinguishing feature of the decision in S.L.

Construction's case (supra) is that of the three

notices issued, the first two never reached the

addressee. It is only after the third notice was

received that the cause of action arose for filing

the complaint. In effect, the cause of action for

filing the complaint in the said case did not arise

with the issuance of the first two notices since

the same were never received by the addressee.

16. The provisions of Section 138 and clauses (a),

(b) and (c) to the proviso thereof indicate that a

cheque has to be presented to the bank within a

period of six months from the date on which it is

drawn or within the period of its validity,
 12

whichever is earlier. Clause (b) indicates that

the payee or the holder in due course of the

cheque, has to make demand for the payment of the

said amount of money by giving a notice in writing

to the drawer of the cheque within 30 days of the

receipt of information by him from the bank

regarding the return of the cheque as unpaid and

clause (c) provides that if the drawer of the

cheque fails to make the payment of the said amount

of money to the payee or to the holder in due

course of the cheque within 15 days of receipt of

the said notice, the payee or the holder of the

cheque may file a complaint under Section 142 of

the Act in the manner prescribed.

17. In the instant case, it is clear that the first

notices were received by the Appellant on 14th June,

2006, whereas the complaints were filed on 10th

July, 2006. It must, therefore, be held that the

complaints were filed beyond the period of
 13

limitation and the learned Magistrate erred in

taking cognizance on the complaints filed on the

basis of the second notices issued on 7th June,

2006. Similarly, the High Court was also wrong in

affirming the order of the learned Magistrate.

18. The Appeals must, therefore, succeed and are,

accordingly, allowed. The orders of the learned

Magistrate dated 13th July, 2006 and 17th July, 2006,

respectively, taking cognizance on the Criminal

Complaint Nos.339 and 399 of 2006 along with the

orders of the High Court impugned in these appeals,

are set aside.

 ......................................................J.
 (ALTAMAS KABIR) ......................................................J.
 (G.S. SINGHVI)
New Delhi
Dated: 8.1.2010.
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