In the suo motu case on expeditious disposal of cheque bouncing cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Supreme Court today directed the High Courts to submit a response within four weeks.
On the last date of hearing, the Court had directed that the report submitted by Amicus Curiae and Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra be placed before the High Courts.
Today, the Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran was informed that as many as 11 High Courts have not replied to the report.
Luthra also told that the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) had submitted a report on pre-litigation mediation for cheque bouncing cases. However, Luthra told the Court,
“But it’s not possible unless cognizance is taken of the case. Our submission is that it has to be done post cognizance and not pre-cognizance as NALSA suggests.”
Revealing the status of the matter since it took up the matter suo motu in March 2020, the Court said,
“Amicus Curiae has made submissions and NALSA has submitted a report. RBI has filed a reply to the preliminary report. By October 27, 2020, DGP of states was directed to respond with respect to service of summons. Only 7 DGPs have submitted response. Some High Courts have not filed response.”
Having regard to the importance of the matter for administration of justice across the states, CJI Bobde proceeded to direct the High Courts through their Directors General of Police (DGPs) to file their responses within four weeks. The Court further ordered,
“In case the High Courts and states do not submit response, the Registrar General of the High Courts and DGP of states who did not respond shall remain present in this Court with necessary authorization from their government to take steps in the matter.”
As regards pre-litigation mediation for cheque bouncing cases, CJI Bobde agreed with the view taken by Luthra. He said,
“Negotiable Instruments Act does not lay down steps to be taken for dishonoured cheques. Therefore, it would not be advisable to consider for pre-litigation mediation. However, it may be possible to have it post cognizance is taken by criminal court.”
NALSA has been directed to modify its suggestions accordingly. The matter will be taken up after four weeks.