This amendment does not take away any fundamental right of the accused. He still has a right to defend himself, the Court observed.
The Chhattisgarh High Court in Vikas Bafna vs. Union of India has held that sub-section (2) of Section 142 and Section 142A of the Negotiable Instruments Act as amended by Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015, are valid piece of legislation.
A Bench comprising of the Chief Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal dismissed a writ petition challenging the vires of the Amendment Act, 2015, observing that it does not take away any right of the accused. The petitioner’s contention was that, the amendment takes away and abridges the rights of an accused under Negotiable Instruments Act to properly defend himself and to that extent the new provisions are affecting the fundamental right of the Petitioners to defend themselves.
The Court found force in the argument of the State that, the accused will have a right to defend himself in accordance with law and merely because he may have to defend himself at a place which is far away from his normal place of residence, is not a ground to hold that the law violates his fundamental right.
The Bench observed: “True it is that there was no challenge to the vires of the Amendment Act before the Apex Court, but the Apex Court has now clearly held that according to the amendments now made, the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act would be of the Court having jurisdiction of the area where the cheque is delivered for collection through an account of the Branch of the Bank where payee and holder maintain their accounts. On a careful analysis of the case laws cited before us and the provisions of law, we are clearly of the view that the Parliament was fully competent to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, even if the result of this amendment was to nullify the judgment of the Apex Court in Dashrath (supra). We are also clearly of the view that this amendment does not take away any fundamental right of the accused. He still has a right to defend himself. Therefore, we are clearly of the view that the challenge to the constitutional validity of the amendment is totally without any merit and we reject the writ petition.”
Read the Judgment here.