The Delhi High Court issued a set of directions to be complied with by the Magistrates and Trial courts having jurisdiction to try offences relating to cheque dishonour under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
The said directions are issued pursuant to the order dated April 16 passed by the Supreme Court in “In Re: Expeditious Trial of Cases under section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act 1881,” wherein the Supreme Court passed a slew of directions to expedite the trial of cheque dishonour cases across the country.
In light of the above, the Delhi High Court issued various practice directions. Firstly, the Magistrates shall record cogent and sufficient reasons before converting trial of complaints under Section 138 of the Act from summary trial to summons trial. “Due care and caution shall be exercised in this regard and the conversion of summary trial to summons trial shall not be in a mechanical manner.”
Secondly, the Magistrates shall conduct an enquiry to arrive at sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused as prescribed under Section 202CrPC, when such accused resides beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
Thirdly, while conducting any such inquiry under section 202 CrPC, the evidence of witnesses on behalf of the complainant shall be permitted to be taken on affidavit.
Fourthly, the trial courts are directed to treat service of summons in one complaint forming part of a transaction, as deemed service in respect of all the complaints filed before the same court relating to dishonour of cheques issued as part of the said transaction.
Fifthly, the trial courts have no inherent power to review or recall the issue of summons in relation to complaint filed under section 138 of NI Act.
Sixthly, Section 258 CrPC is not applicable to proceedings under Section 138 of NI Act.
Seventhly, the Appellate Courts, before which appeals against the judgements in complaint under Section 138 of NI Act are pending, shall make an effort to settle the dispute through mediation.
The Court has further said that the directions shall come into force with immediate effect. ILNS/GM/SS/RJ