A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde today proposed the introduction of a temporary law to create additional courts to try cheque bouncing cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
The Bench of CJI Bobde and Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and Ravindra Bhat suggested while hearing the suo motu case for expeditious trial of cheque bouncing cases under Section 138 of NI Act.
The Court stated that it is of the “prima facie view that there is a power coupled with duty to create additional courts” on the Central government.
“The pendency that is rising due to NI Act is grotesque. You can make a temporary law so that you say these courts exist for a particular period. You can appoint retired judges or experts,” said CJI Bobde.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, in a departure from the earlier stand taken by the Union Finance Ministry, stated that on the back of discussions with bureaucratic high-level officials about this suggestion of the Court, he felt that “it was a welcome move.”
“We need to have a wider discussion. Internally we have to work out the nitty-gritties,” the SG added.
SG Mehta has been granted time till March 10 to make an official statement about the proposed law and which judges could be appointed to a committee being formed to devise ways to deal with pending Section 138 cases.
“We will slot this Bench next week and we will assemble for five minutes so that you make a statement. But we are holding it as a power coupled with duty to create additional courts. We will proceed and we would like in first instance to come from government,” CJI Bobde said.
During the hearing, the Court also floated the question as to whether the intimation that a cheque has bounced can have details of the drawer of the cheque.
“So that an immediate complaint is made, and summons is served. Veil of confidentiality can be lifted if there is a violation of law,” CJI Bobde explained the rationale behind having such a system.
However, the banks stated that they cannot disclose the details unless there is any order from the Court.
The top court assured the bank that orders will be passed in this regard.
In March last year, the Court had registered a suo motu case for evolving a mechanism to ensure that cheque bouncing cases are adjudicated expeditiously.
During a previous hearing in January this year, the Court was informed that as many as 11 High Courts had not replied to the report submitted by Amicus Curiae and Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra.