Vijay Mallaya’s challenge to summons in cheque bounce cases, dismissed

Delhi High Court:  Deciding the petitions challenging the order of the Sessions Judge whereby the revision petitions were dismissed against the order dated January 13, 2016 of the Metropolitan Magistrate summoning the petitioner as an accused in cheque bounce cases, under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the Court held that the trial Judge’s order cannot be termed as unsustainable  or illegal or abuse to the process of law and no ground was made to set aside the same.

The petitioner contended that  power to summon an accused under Section 319 can be exercised only when some additional evidence has been recorded before the court, but in the present case there was nothing against the petitioner in the pre-summoning evidence and the court below had proceeded only on the basis of averments made in the application. It was further argued that both the courts below had overlooked the applicability of Sections 138(1)(b), 141 and 142(1) of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Besides, his name was not mentioned in the complaint, so he could not be impleaded as an accused in the complaint case.

The Court observed that the petitioner was the Chairman and Managing Director of Kingfisher Airlines Limited and thus was the incharge and fully responsible for the day-to-day business of the said company. Therefore, mere non-mentioning of the name of the petitioner in the complaint cannot absolve him of the responsibility of the company which issued the cheques in question. Thus, there was no need to issue notice by the complainant in the petitioner’s name  as the cheques in question were issued by the company and the petitioner being its incharge was equally liable to be prosecuted.

The Court further held that undisputedly, the petitioner was the Chairman and Managing Director of the company and as per S.M.S. Pharmaceuticals v. Neeta Bhalla, (2007) 4 SCC 70, the Managing Director would be responsible for day-to-day affairs of the company. The argument advanced by the petitioner that he was not intervening in the day-to-day proceedings of the company, is of no consequence when the cheques in question were issued during the course of day-to-day business transactions for the benefit of the company. More the reason that in the complaint filed before the trial court the company had already been impleaded as one of the respondents.

Dismissing the petititons, the Bench of P. S. Teji, J. held that  adding the name of Mr Vijay Mallya during the proceedings brought forth before the court below that he was the Chairman and Managing Director of the company which is guilty for dishonouring the cheques in question, would be covered under Section 141 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and cannot be termed as abuse to the process of law as envisaged in Section 482 CrPC. [Vijay Mallya  v.  Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd.,  2016 SCC OnLine Del 4200, decided on July 29, 2016]

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