19 May 2022 5:18 AM GMT
With a view of reduce the pendency of cheque bounce cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the establishment of pilot courts presided over by retired judges in 5 districts of 5 states with the highest pendency (namely, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh).A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and...
With a view of reduce the pendency of cheque bounce cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the establishment of pilot courts presided over by retired judges in 5 districts of 5 states with the highest pendency (namely, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh).
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and S Ravindra Bhat passed the direction in the suo motu case taken by the Supreme Court last year to deal with the pendency of cheque dishonour cases(In Re Expeditious Trial Of Cases Under Section 138 of N.I Act).
The bench stated today that it has accepted the suggestion made by amicus curiae Senior Advoacte Sidharth Luthra for establishment of pilot courts.
"We have incorporated the suggestions of the Amicus with respect to the setting up of the pilot courts and we have given the timelines also. It is to begin on 01.09.2022 onwards. The Secretary General of this court shall ensure that a copy of the present order is directly communicated to the Registrar General of the said 5 HCs , who should put it before the CJs for immediate action. Compliance report to be filed on or before 21.07.2022. List on 26.07.2022 to review further proceedings", Justice Ravidra Bhat read out the operative portion of the order. Full copy of the order is awaited.
The Bench also set out the detailed time line to be followed for the purpose of the pilot study.
The report submitted by Amicus stated as follows :
"It is thus suggested that the High Courts must employ the services of retired judicial officers for this purpose. The human resources required to operationalise these courts could also be drawn from retired court staff. This scheme could be tested on a pilot basis in 5 judicial districts with the highest pendency in the 5 states with the highest pendency (namely, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh) and the viability of utilising services of retired judicial officers can be examined based on the results of the pilot study".
On 27.04.2022, the Court had asked the High Courts of these 5 States to respond to suggestions of the Amici. Bombay High Court had identified Nagpur, Nashik, Thane, Pune and CMM, Mumbai as the 5 district with highest pendency. Rajasthan High Court identified Jaipur Metro-I, Jaipur Metro-II, Jodhpur Metro, Udaipur and Ajmer. Allahabad High Court had identified Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur, Gautambudh Nagar and Ghaziabad. Gujarat High Court concurred with the decision to establish one additional court for trying cased under Section 138, NI Act as per the pilot project. Delhi High Court responded stating that Delhi already has 72 Special Courts for NI Act cases.
It is pertinent to noted, that as per the Amici Curiae's report on 08.11.202, there were 26,07,166 complaints pending at various stages before the Courts dealing NI Act trials. By 13.04.2022, the pendency increased to 33,44,290. As per data available on 08.11.2021, 8.81% of the total criminal cases pending in courts were NI Act cases. 11.82% of cases that are pending due to appearance/service related issues are also NI Act cases.
In 2021, by way of a judgment passed by the Constitution Bench of the Apex Court a slew of directions were issued regarding the conduct of trials of complaints under Section 138 of NI Act. On 31.03.2021, the High Courts were directed to compliance reports to ascertain if appropriate rules pursuant to the order of the Constitution Bench had been framed by them. All but Patna High Court have complied with the directions issued in 2021 and had proposed amended Rules. Some States had also notified the amended Rules. On 16.04.2021, an expert committee was constituted for streamlining the procedure of arresting the judicial docket in regard to the trial under the NI Act. The expert committee had suggested the creation of Special NI Courts and appointment of retired Judicial officer who have worked as Tehsildars, Special Executive Magistrates, Registrar of Tribunals, High Court to these de novo courts.
Case Title : IN RE: EXPEDITIOUS TRIAL OF CASES UNDER SECTION 138 OF N.I. ACT 1881
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 508
Click Here To Read/Download Order