The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a PIL which sought a relief to exclude the time period of lockdown for calculating the limitation for presentation of cheques/demand drafts.
Dismissing the PIL, a bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Indu Malhotra and Aniruddha Bose said
"In our considered view, this is a policy decision to be taken by the Reserve Bank of India regarding which the court can not issue any direction. The writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is dismissed as not maintainable".
The petition was filed by Advocate Harsh Nitin Gokhale as party-in-person.
The petitioner referred to the recent Supreme Court order in Sou Moto Writ Petition (WP-3/ 2020) extending the period of limitation for filing of proceedings under the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, Negotiable Instruments Act, and sought relaxation of the limitation for presenting banking instruments such as cheques, demand drafts etc. for the period of lockdown, which are required to be presented before 3 months from the date of issuance.
As per the RBI direction issued on November 4, 2011, banking instruments ( cheques/demand drafts) should be presented for encashment within 3 months from the date of issuance.
The petitioner submitted that during the lockdown period due to COVID-19 pandemic, people have not been able to venture out to present their cheques or banking instruments.
"Since the instrument would have become stale the Drawer would lose the right to the encash the banking instrument and /or valuable rights of the Drawer to proceed against the Drawee would be lost as it would be considered to be negligence of the Drawer to not present the same in due time. Such a suffering could be easily remedied, if the limitation for presentation of such banking instruments are relaxed for the period of the lockdown", read the plea.
Last week, the Delhi HC had sought the response of RBI to a petition which sought a similar direction to exclude the period of lockdown for the validity of negotiable instruments.
The HC observed that the situation of a cheque becoming stale due to the banks inability to clear the same amid lockdown was "unfortunate".
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