Welcome move to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act


It refers to Union Cabinet giving nod for amending section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act whereby it will be possible to file cases on cheque-bouncing at places of presentation of cheques for clearing. It became necessary after Supreme Court ruling that such cases could be filed only at places from where cheques were issued putting defaulter at advantage to the victim. But the Bill to amend the Act should incorporate some more features to make it user-friendly, fast-disposing and separating cases of cheques issued for payment of Equated Monthly Installments (EMIs) from other cases of cheque-bouncing. Since the defaulters at times avoid receiving summons, there should be a provision of summons deemed to have been served by publication and otherwise in the manner done in civil cases. Accused may be required to furnish a bank-guarantee of the amount of bounced-cheques at first appearance. Or else they may deposit the amount in the Court till final disposal of the case. Otherwise, bank-accounts and/ or properties of defaulters may be attached till final disposal of the case and payment made as directed by courts in the order. Fifty-percent amount of penalty imposable under section 138 of the Act should be for judicial system, and this amount may be compulsorily charged from the accused once the case is filed even if the cases are compromised/ settled during or outside court-proceedings. For short-cut of procedures, formality of summoning banks to verify bank-documents relating to cheque-bouncing should be abolished. Instead complainants may be required to file affidavits about genuinety of filed documents. Action can be taken against complainants in case filed documents prove to be fake. Since number of cases relating to bouncing of cheques have jumped abnormally high especially after loans being generously distributed by banks and other financial institutions on post-dated cheques towards EMIs, all such cases relating to returned EMI cheques of banks etc should be separated from other cases of cheque-bouncing including those of business-related ones. Separate courts should handle complaints from Banks and other financial institutions for cases relating to bouncing of EMI cheques with ten-percent court-fees to be stipulated for cases related to EMI cheques.

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