Section 138 Cases: SC For Expeditious Disposal, Registers Suo Moto Petition
The court has issued notices to all the stakeholders, viz. the Union of India, Registrar Generals of all the High Courts, the Director-General of Police of all the States and UTs, the National Legal Services Authority, Reserve Bank of India and Indian Bank Association.
The Supreme Court of India, on March 5, 2020, while hearing a special leave petition pertaining to the dishonour of cheques, and observing that the matter had been tried and contested over a period of 15 years, ordered for a suo moto writ (‘Expeditious trial of cases under Section 138 of N.I. Act, 1881’) to be registered to evolve ‘evolving a concerted, coordinated mechanism for expeditious adjudication of these cases as per the legal mandate’. Finding that, in the instant case, the trial court had taken 7 years to dispose of the matter, the bench of the Chief Justice of India, Sh. S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageshwar Rao observed that such disputes were taking too much judicial time and space, even though such matters were expected to be disposed of summarily.
The SC also observed that most of the delay occurred because the accused failed to appear before the trial courts, which happened, in a majority of the cases, due to ‘non-execution of the further process’. This was also leading to the complainants having to pay unjustified process fee. The SC observed that it had become necessary for the system of service/process execution to evolve and the same had to be done with concerted efforts of the complainants, police and the banks.
The court recalled its observation in Meters and Instruments Private Limited and anr. V. Kanchan Mehta (2018), that as the banks were invariably involved in all such trials, they should, if required, furnish to the complainant the registered email id of the accused payee, to assist in service of the process on the latter. Besides evolving a system for sharing information expeditiously, the SC has also observed that the National Legal Services Authority could help in evolving a scheme for pre-litigation settlement of such disputes.
Sidharth Luthra, Senior Advocate is proposed to assist the court as amicus curiae in the fresh writ, and K. Marameshwar has been appointed as amicus curiae to assist him. The court has issued notices to all the stakeholders, viz. the Union of India, Registrar Generals of all the High Courts, the Director-General of Police of all the States and UTs, the National Legal Services Authority, Reserve Bank of India and Indian Bank Association.