The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of Attorney General KK Venugopal in an application seeking service of demand notice in "dishonour of cheque" cases through Email and Whatsapp under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde sought the Attorney General's response on the viability of alternative means of service, and ways to ensure that the said service through these alternative modes are not misused.
The interlocutory application was filed in the suo moto case taken by the SC for extending the limitation period for filing of cases in the wake of COVID-19.
Advocate Mayank Khirsagar and Sahil Monga appeared for the applicant.
"We have been told by some experts that people try to misuse service through email and whatsapp. So AG may reply as to how can this be done without abusing such liberties. Let him tell us what his advice is, so it can be considered. We are not experts on this" - CJI SA Bobde
Advocate Bintu Thomas submitted that the extension of limitation must also be made applicable to re-filings. To this, CJI SA Bobde clarified,
"Whether filings or re-filing, the same principles will apply. If the time expires during the period of lockdown, the same principle will apply. Whenever we pass that order, we'll say so"
Earlier, on March 23, a CJI led bench had passed a general order extending Limitation with effect from March 15, invoking special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.
The March 23 order had been passed with the objective of reducing physical filings in courts and tribunals across the countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court had ordered,
"To obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals across the country including this Court, it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f.15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings"
The bench had further stated that the same shall be binding on all courts/tribunals as per Article 141,
"We are exercising this power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declare that this order is a binding order within the meaning of Article 141 on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities".