Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

SC Endorses HP HC’s Ruling That Complaints Under NI Act Cannot Be Re-Filed After Amendments Without Authorisation

LiveLaw Research Team
14 Jun 2017 6:21 AM GMT
SC Endorses HP HC’s Ruling That Complaints Under NI Act Cannot Be Re-Filed After Amendments Without Authorisation
x

The Supreme Court’s Vacation Bench of Justices Prafulla C. Pant and Deepak Gupta on Tuesday, June 13, declined to interfere with the decision of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which held the re-filing of a complaint filed at Delhi’s Saket district court under Section 138 of the NI Act as void, since it did not have its authorisation.In the instant case, the complainant-respondent,...

The Supreme Court’s Vacation Bench of Justices Prafulla C. Pant and Deepak Gupta on Tuesday, June 13, declined to interfere with the decision of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which held the re-filing of a complaint filed at Delhi’s Saket district court under Section 138 of the NI Act as void, since it did not have its authorisation.

In the instant case, the complainant-respondent, Joginder Thakur, initiated the proceedings against the petitioner, Arnab Chatterjee, under Section 138 of the NI Act, before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Theog, Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh.

During the pendency of the case, the Supreme Court in Dashrath Rupsingh Rathod v State of Maharashtra (2014) had held that the place, situs or venue of judicial inquiry and trial of the offence under Section 139 NI  Act must be restricted to where the drawee bank, is located.

It was further held that the territorial jurisdiction for filing of cheque dishonoured complaint was restricted to the Court within whose territorial jurisdiction the offence was committed, which is the location where the cheque is dishonoured by the bank by which it was drawn.

It was further directed in that case that in case the court lacked the territorial jurisdiction, then the complaints so filed should be returned to the complainants for filing the same before the appropriate court.

Accordingly the CJM, Theog, Shimla returned the complaint to the respondent along with the documents, so that he could file it before the competent court.  As the drawee bank was situated at Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, the only court to try the case was the Saket Court, Delhi.

However, the respondent filed a fresh complaint at the Saket Court, without the authorisation of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.  The fresh complaint, however, was again transferred to the ACJM, Theog, following an amendment to the NI Act.  The High Court found that the action of the respondent in amending the complaint without the leave of the Court virtually amounted to playing fraud with the court.

The respondent had relied on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Dashrath Rupsingh Rathod to contend that his action of re-filing the complaint within thirty days of its return, was justified.

The High Court, however, disagreed and held that the phrases “filed/re-filed” mentioned in that judgment should be read in the context they were used, and not otherwise.

The high court reasoned that the case is only an authority for what it actually decides, and not what logically follows from it.

Furthermore, the judgments rendered by a court are not to be read as statutes, the High Court had held.  Relying on a Supreme Court’s judgment delivered in 2004, (Union of India v Amrit Lal Manchanda) the High Court had held that observations of courts are neither to be read as Euclid’s theorems nor as provisions of the statute and that too taken out of their context.

“To interpret words, phrases and provisions of a statute, it may become necessary for Judges to embark into lengthy discussions but the discussion is meant to explain and not to define.  Judges interpret statutes, they do not interpret judgments. They interpret words of statutes; their words are not to be interpreted as statutes”, wrote Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, who authored the High Court’s judgment.

Justice Chauhan added that ratio decidendi of a judgment is not to be discerned from a stray word or phrase read in isolation.  The High Court had, in its judgment on April 6, directed the ACJM, Theog, to dispose of the original complaint not later than June 30, and declared the complaint filed afresh at the Saket Court as void ab initio, and without jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to interfere with the High Court’s judgment, lends finality to it.

Next Story