Bombay High Court has issued practice directions to trial court judges, with respect to the trial of cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. These directions were issued by the Registrar General Mahendra W Chandwani in adherence with the Supreme Court’s directions in the suo moto case on swift disposal of the cases of cheque-bouncing under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
The directions are as follows:
- Before transferring a complaint under Section 138 from summary trial to summons trial in exercise of power under the second provision of Section 143 of the NI Act, magistrates with jurisdiction to try offences must record cogent and have adequate grounds.
- When a complaint is received and the accused is found to be outside the territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate concerned, the Magistrate must conduct an investigation under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused.
- While conducting such an investigation, the magistrate may allow witness testimony on behalf of the complainant to be taken on affidavit, or in appropriate cases, the magistrate may not insist on witness examination for satisfaction as to the sufficiency of the grounds for proceeding.
- Service of summons in one complaint under section 138 of the N.I. Act relating to the dishonor of cheques issued as part of the same transaction shall be deemed service in respect of all complaints filed before the same Court relating to the dishonor of cheques issued as part of the same transaction.
- The inherent capacity to review or recall the issuance of summons is unaffected by the Trial Court’s ability to revisit the order of issuance of process under section 322 of the CrPC if it is brought to the court’s attention that it lacks jurisdiction to try the matter.
- Section 258 of the Criminal Procedure Code does not apply to those complaints which are filed under section 138. Section 143 uses the phrase “as far as may be” only in relation to the applicability of sections 262 to 265 of the Code and the summary procedure to be followed for proceedings.
- Appellate courts hearing appeals from decisions in complaint under section 138 are required to try to resolve the matter through mediation.