Thu, 06 May 2021

New Delhi [India], April 16 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday passes its order in suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) on cheque bouncing cases and asked the High Courts to issue directions to the Magistrates to record reasons before converting trial of complaints under Section 138 of the Act from summary trial to summons trial.

The Supreme Court's five-judge Constitution bench also a slew of directions on the suo motu PIL regarding expeditious disposal of cases under Section 138 (dishonour of cheque) of Negotiable Instruments Act.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Apex Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde, and also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, B R Gavai, A S Bopanna and S Ravindra Bhatt passed the order today.

The Apex Court said that the inquiry shall be conducted on receipt of complaints under Section 138 of the Act to arrive at sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused when such accused resides beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

For the conduct of inquiry under Section 202 of the Code, the Top Court said evidence of witnesses on behalf of the complainant shall be permitted to be taken on affidavit.

"In suitable cases, the Magistrate can restrict the inquiry to an examination of documents without insisting for examination of witnesses," the Top Court said, in its order.

"We recommend that suitable amendments be made to the Act for the provision of one trial against a person for multiple offences under Section 138 of the Act committed within a period of 12 months, notwithstanding the restriction in Section 219 of the Code," it said.

The Top Court also said that other points, which have been raised by the Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in their preliminary report and written submissions and not considered herein, shall be the subject matter of deliberation by the Committee.

Any other issue relating to expeditious disposal of complaints under Section 138 of the Act shall also be considered by the Committee, the Apex Court said, and listed the matter for further hearing after eight weeks.

It also said that the further hearing in this matter will be before a three-Judges Bench.

Earlier, the Constitution Bench had set up a committee headed by Justice (Retd) RC Chauhan to ensure expeditious disposal of cheque bounce cases across India. (ANI)

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