While refusing a plea to consolidate multiple cheque bounce cases against the accused which emanated from a single notice, the Supreme Court has observed that there is no provision of consolidation of cases in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Four separate complaints were filed against the accused after four cheques allegedly issued by him to the complainant bounced. Highlighting the fact that the complainant had only sent one notice in terms of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act with regard to bouncing of all the four cheques, the accused filed an application praying that all the four complaints should be consolidated and heard together.
Aggrieved with dismissal of the application, the accused approach the Apex Court which observed:
The only other contention is that since one notice has been issued, four separate trials should not take place and one trial should take place. There is no provision of consolidation of cases in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The bench also rejected the contention that in terms of Section 219 of the Code of Criminal Procedure since the offences took place during the period of one year, the cases should be dealt together. Even if Section 219 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was to apply, there have to be two trials because not more than three cases can be tried together even if they occurred in one year, it said.
However, the bench directed the Trial Magistrate to fix all the four cases on one date so that it is convenient to both the parties to attend the hearing of all the four cases on one date. Taking note of the fact that the complaints are pending for two decades, the bench observed:
Whether these cases had been heard together or separately, they would have been decided by now only because of the interim proceedings, even the evidence has not been recorded….. … Since the original complaints were filed in the year 1999, we direct the Magistrate to fix day to day hearing in the matters and dispose of these complaints latest by 31.12.2019.
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