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Dishonour Of Cheque Issued As A Security Can Also Attract Offences U/Sec 138 NI Act: Supreme court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
29 Oct 2021 8:54 AM GMT
Dishonour Of Cheque Issued As A Security Can Also Attract Offences U/Sec 138 NI Act: Supreme court
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The Supreme Court observed that the dishonour of cheque issued as a security can also attract offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.There cannot be a hard and fast rule that a cheque which is issued as security can never be presented by the drawee of the cheque, the bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna observed.The court added that such contention would ...

The Supreme Court observed that the dishonour of cheque issued as a security can also attract offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

There cannot be a hard and fast rule that a cheque which is issued as security can never be presented by the drawee of the cheque, the bench of Justices  MR Shah and AS Bopanna observed.

The court added that such contention would arise only in a circumstance where the debt has not become recoverable and the cheque issued as security has not matured to be presented for recovery of the amount, if the due date agreed for payment of debt has not arrived.

In this case, the  High Court relied on a Supreme Court judgment in Sudhir Kr. Bhalla vs. Jagdish Chand 2008 7 SCC 137  to hold that the cheque issued as security cannot constitute an offence. In this regard, the bench observed:

"There is no categorical declaration by this Court in the said case that the cheque issued as security cannot be presented for realisation under all circumstances. The facts in the said case relate to the cheques being issued and there being alterations made in the cheques towards which there was also a counter complaint filed by the drawer of the cheque. Hence, the said decision cannot be a precedent to answer the position in this case and the High Court was not justified in placing reliance on the same"

The court then referred to the case of Sampelly Satyanarayana Rao vs. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd and made these observations:

Cheque issued as security pursuant to a financial transaction cannot be considered as a worthless piece of paper under every circumstance.

16. A cheque issued as security pursuant to a financial transaction cannot be considered as a worthless piece of paper under every circumstance. 'Security' in its true sense is the state of being safe and the security given for a loan is something given as a pledge of payment. It is given, deposited or pledged to make certain the fulfilment of an obligation to which the parties to the transaction are bound. If in a transaction, a loan is advanced and the borrower agrees to repay the amount in a specified timeframe and issues a cheque as security to secure such repayment; if the loan amount is not repaid in any other form before the due date or if there is no other understanding or agreement between the parties to defer the payment of amount, the cheque which is issued as security would mature for presentation and the drawee of the cheque would be entitled to present the same. On such presentation, if the same is dishonoured, the consequences contemplated under Section 138 and the other provisions of N.I. Act would flow.

The prior discharge of the loan or there being an altered situation due to which there would be understanding between the parties is a sine qua non to not present the cheque which was issued as security. 

17. When a cheque is issued and is treated as 'security' towards repayment of an amount with a time period being stipulated for repayment, all that it ensures is that such cheque which is issued as 'security' cannot be presented prior to the loan or the instalment maturing for repayment towards which such cheque is issued as security. Further, the borrower would have the option of repaying the loan amount or such financial liability in any other form and in that manner if the amount of loan  due and payable has been discharged within the agreed period, the cheque issued as security cannot thereafter be presented. Therefore, the prior discharge of the loan or there being an altered situation due to which there would be understanding between the parties is a sine qua non to not present the cheque which was issued as security. These are only the defences that would be available to the drawer of the cheque in a proceedings initiated under Section 138 of the N.I. Act.


17....Therefore, there cannot be a hard and fast rule that a cheque which is issued as security can never be presented by the drawee of the cheque. If such is the understanding a cheque would also be reduced to an 'on demand promissory note' and in all circumstances, it would only be a civil litigation to recover the amount, which is not the intention of the statute. When a cheque is issued even though as 'security' the consequence flowing therefrom is also known to the drawer of the cheque and in the circumstance stated above if the cheque is presented and dishonoured, the holder of the cheque/drawee would have the option of initiating the civil proceedings for recovery or the criminal proceedings for punishment in the fact situation, but in any event, it is not for the drawer of the cheque to dictate terms with regard to the nature of litigation.

In this case, the court noted that the cheque though issued as security at the point when the loan was advanced, it was  issued as an assurance to repay the amount after the debt becomes due for repayment.

"The loan was in subsistence when the cheque was issued and had become repayable during June/July 2015 and the cheque issued towards repayment was agreed to be presented thereafter. If the amount was not paid in any other mode before June/July 2015, it was incumbent on the respondent No.2 to arrange sufficient balance in the account to honour the cheque which was to be presented subsequent to June/July 2015.", the bench observed while allowing appeal.

 Case name and Citation: Sripati Singh (D) vs. State of Jharkhand LL 2021 SC 606

Case no. and Date:  CrA 1269-­1270 OF 2021 | 28 October 2021

Coram: Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna

Counsel: Adv M.C. Dhingra for the appellant, Adv Raj Kishor Choudhary, Adv Keshav Murthy for respondent


Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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