Punjab and Haryana High Court: Sudhir Mittal, J., while addressing an issue with regard to the dishonour of cheque held that,
“Offence under Section 138 NI Act is quasi-criminal in nature and it is not an offence against society, hence an accused can escape punishment by settling with the complainant.”
Revision petitioner issued a cheque to the complainant–respondent 1 which was dishonored.
On the dishonour of cheque, the complainant sent a notice demanding payment of the cheque amount but no response was received.
In view of the above, he filed a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
Revision petitioner was acquitted and later he filed an appeal against the said Judgment and the case was remanded for a fresh decision.
Appeal against the aforementioned judgment of conviction was dismissed which lead to the filing of the present revision petition.
In the present appeal, the revision petitioner prayed for a reduction in the quantum of sentence.
Question for adjudication is — Whether the petitioner is entitled to reduction of his sentence?
When can a Revisional Court exercise its powers to alter the nature or the extent or the nature and extent of the sentence?
Do sympathetic consideration have any role to play in the matter of sentencing?
Sentencing is primarily a matter of discretion as there are no statutory provisions governing the matter.
Bench citing the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Himachal Pardesh v. Nirmala Devi, 2017 (2) RCR (Criminal) 613, stated that the sentence imposed must be commensurate with the crime committed and in accordance with jurisprudential justification such as deterrence, retribution or restoration. Mitigating and aggravating circumstances, both should be kept in mind.
Court added that the provisions inserted for inculcating greater faith in banking transactions needed more teeth so that cases involving dishonour of cheques reduced.
Therefore, it is apparent that deterrence and restoration are the principles to be kept in mind for sentencing.
In the present matter, the order of sentence for 2 years has been imposed on the grounds that the offence is a socio-economic offence.
Award of compensation is also justified and reflects a judicious exercise of mind.
In view of the above, the revision petition was dismissed and maintained. [Rakesh Kumar v. Jasbir Singh, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 1197, decided on 11-08-2020]