Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking suo motu cognizance of the issue relating to the expeditious trial of cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, the bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao, J has issued notice to the Union of India through Law Secretary, Registrar General of all the High Courts, the Director General of Police of all the States and Union Territories, Member Secretary of the National Legal Services Authority, Reserve Bank of India and Indian Bank Association, Mumbai as the representatives of Banking institutions.

The said action of the Court came after noticing that despite many changes brought through legislative amendments and various Supreme Court decisions mandating speedy trial and disposal of these cases, the Trial Courts are filled with large number of pendency of these cases. A recent study of the pending cases, reflects pendency of more than 35 lakh, which constitutes more than 15 percent of the total criminal cases pending in the District Courts.

Here’s is what the Court suggested whule posting the matter on April 16, 2020 for further hearing:

  • there is a need to evolve a system of service/execution of process issued by the court and ensuring the presence of the accused, with the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders like Complainant, Police and Banks.
  • an information sharing mechanism may be developed where the banks share all the requisite details available of the accused, who is the account holder, with the complainant and the police for the purpose of execution of process. This may include a requirement to print relevant information, viz the email id, registered mobile number and permanent address of the account holder, on the cheque or dishonour memo informing the holder about the dishonour.
  • RBI, being the regulatory body may also evolve guidelines for banks to facilitate requisite information for the trial of these cases and such other matters as may be required.
  • a separate software-based mechanism may be developed to track and ensure the service of process on the accused in cases relating to an offence under Section 138 of N.I. Act.
  • RBI may consider developing a new proforma of cheques so as to include the purpose of payment, along with other informations mentioned above to facilitate adjudication of real issues.
  • a mechanism may be developed to ensure the presence of the accused even by way of coercive measure, if required, taking effect from Section 83 of Cr.P.C. which allows attachment of property, including movable property.
  • an effort may be evolved to recover interim compensation under Section 143A of the N.I. Act as well as fine or compensation to be recovered as per Section 421 of Cr.P.C.
  • National Legal Services Authority, being the responsible Authority in this regard, may evolve a scheme for settlement of dispute relating to cheque bounce at pre-litigation i.e. before filing of the private complaint. An Award passed at the pre-litigation stage or pre-cognizance stage shall have an effect of a civil decree.

“This measure of prelitigation ADR process can go a long way in settling the cases before they come to Court, thereby reducing docket burden.”

  • High Courts may also consider setting up of exclusive courts to deal with matters relating to Section 138, especially in establishments where the pendency is above a standard figure. Special norms for assessment of the work of exclusive courts may also be formulated giving additional weightage to disposal of case within the time-frame as per legal requirement.

The Court appointed Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra as Amicus Curiae and Advocate K. Parameshwar to assist the amicus curiae in the matter.

[In Re: Expeditious trial of cases under Section 138 of N.I. Act, 1881, Suo Moto Writ Petition (Criminal), arising out of SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 5464 OF 2016, order dated 05.03.2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

S.O. 4277(E).— In exercise of the powers conferred under Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the President is pleased to nominate Hon’ble Shri Justice N.V. Ramana, Judge, Supreme Court of India, as Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority, with immediate effect.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 27-11-2019]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

S.O. 1120(E)—In exercise of the powers conferred under Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the President is pleased to nominate Hon’ble Shri Justice S.A. Bobde, Judge, Supreme Court of India, as Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority, with effect from 7th March, 2019.

[F. No. A-60011/44/2015-LAP(JUS)]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the light of the rising misuse of Section 498-A IPC dealing with dowry deaths, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ gave the below mentioned directions to deal with the menace, except in case offences involving tangible physical injuries or death, and said that the below mentioned arrangement should be tried for at least 6 months or till 31.03.2018, after which the National Legal Services Authority will have to submit a report to the Court.

  • Family Welfare Committee:
  1. Atleast one committee to be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities in every district, preferably comprising of three members who are para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.
  2. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.
  3. The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.
  4. Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee.
  5. Report and opinion of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint. No arrest should normally be effected before that.
  6. The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.
  • Investigating Officer: Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. He should undergo training of four months for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate.
  • Bail: If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected.
  • NRIs: In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine.
  • Video Conferencing: Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.

The Court said that it is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women and that most of such complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues & many are not bona fide. The Court said that involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of justice can be one of the steps to remedy this situation, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned trial courts being sensitized. [Rajesh Sharma v. State of U.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 821, decided on 27.07.2017]