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Court Upholds Conviction Under Section 138 of NI Act, Clarifies Blank Cheque Presumption

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by News Desk

The petition challenged the decision of the Sessions Court upholding conviction under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (NI Act) while reducing the substantive sentence to one day. Sophy Thomas, J., upheld the High Court’s findings and clarified that a blank check signed without any threat or coercion would attract presumption under Section 139 of the NI Act.

The original complaint stated that the revision petitioner borrowed Rs 4 lakhs from the complainant on September 27, 2006, and issued a check on October 13, 2006, towards the discharge of debt, assuring sufficient funds in his bank account for honouring the same.

When the check was presented before the drawee bank, it was dishonoured due to insufficiency of funds, returning with a memo dated October 17, 2006. The complainant sent a legal notice for check dishonour at his place of business and residence, intimating dishonour and demanding the said amount, which he failed to repay. Therefore, a complaint under Section 138 of the NI Act was filed.

The Trial Court found the revision petitioner guilty under Section 138 of the NI Act and sentenced him to undergo simple imprisonment for 6 months and pay compensation of Rs. 4 lakhs with interest at 9% p.a.

The Appellate Court confirmed his conviction but reduced the substantive sentence to imprisonment till rising of court and converted the compensation amount into a fine amount, with direction for the fine amount to be paid to the complainant as compensation under Section 357(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. The same was assailed in the instant revision petition.

The Court clarified that while exercising revisional jurisdiction under Section 401 r.w. Section 397 of CrPC, it was “exercising its supervisory jurisdiction for correcting miscarriage of justice, after verifying the correctness, legality, or propriety of the finding sentence or order of the courts below.”

It said that the limited power under the revisional jurisdiction was to do justice as per the principles of criminal jurisprudence and won’t re-appreciate evidence for a contrary finding based on its own conclusions unless a glaring feature was brought to the Court’s notice tantamounting to gross miscarriage of justice.

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