The Telangana High Court, pursuant to the direction issued by a constitutional bench of the Supreme court to expediate the trial in Re Expeditious Trial of Cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act in matter dealing with the cheque dishonour cases, has issued practice directions dated June 21st, 2021 enumerating that all the cases tried in the Magistrate Court under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act shall be registered as Summary Trial Cases- Negotiable Instrument.
Section 138 of The Negotiable Instrument Act, the provision under which summary trial is to be initiated, deals with the dishonoring of Cheques due to fund insufficiency and prescribes punishment in case of dishonoring of cheques drawn towards the payment of a debt or any other payment.
Furthermore, the practice directions state that the Magistrate Court need not insist for the personal presence of complainant for registration of the Complaint, and further observed that,
“The power of attorney holder may be allowed to file the complaint, appear and depose for the purpose of issue of process for the offence under Section 138 of the N.I.Act. An exception to the above is when the power of attorney holder of the complainant does not have a personal knowledge about the transaction, then he cannot be examined.”
In addition to the direction enlisting summary trial, the practice direction further included that:
1: Jurisdiction of court for registration of cases under Section 138, Negotiable Instrument Act
In the cases where the place of residence of the accused is situated outside the territorial limits of the Court, the Courts shall follow Section 202 Cr.P.C. which mandates the inquiry by the Court. However, the said provision is not a hurdle or barrier in respect of the cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act. However, the Courts shall look into and consider the affidavit of the Complainant which may be filed under Section 145 of N.I.Act and the documents filed in support! of his case to arrive at sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused and to\issue the process.
2: Registration of Complaint and Verification of Affidavit
The compliant shall contain a statement as to computation of the amount claimed, Email ID of the complainant/accused, bank particulars of the complainant. The Courts shall insist for filing the verification affidavit as to the correctness of pleadings. If all the above are duly complied, the Magistrates shall take cognizance of the offence on the date of filing itself without any delay and shall invariably register the case.
The summons shall be issued to the accused by registered post/approved courier agency. e-Mail and other approved digital/electronic mode in the prescribed format. While issuing. Summons, the Courts shall see that the summons are properly addressed and1 sent by post and also to the e-mail address of the accused complainant. The Court, shall also consider to take the assistance of the Police or the nearby Court to serve summons or warrants to the accused. For appearance of the accused, a short date shall be fixed. If the summons is received back un-served, immediate follow up action be taken.
The Magistrate Courts shall make every endeavour to complete the trial of these cases within the statutory prescribed time limit of six (6) months. fter closure of the complainant side evidence, the accused shall be called upon to answer the incriminate material available in the case of the complainant against him under Section 313 Cr.P.C and his detailed answers for the said questions shall be recorded. The accused shall be permitted to file a defence statement in view of the provisions under Section 313 Cr.P.C. at this stage.
In all the cases where the accused is found guilty of the offence under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, the Court shll consider awarding the compensation to the complainant party in view of the provisions under 138, 143 of Negotiable Instruments Act and Section 357 Cr.P.C. The Court must exercise the power and discretion to compensate the injury suffered by the complainant.