Criminal Writ Petition No. 2362 of 2014
The petitioner was facing trial for the offence under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act (“N.I. Act“). Earlier, the two cheques in question were issued by the Petitioner(“P“) in favour of the Respondent No.2 (“R2“). The first cheque was drawn on State Bank of India, Gandhinagar Branch, Ahmedabad and the other cheque was drawn on Bank of Maharashtra, Gandhinagar Branch, Ahmedabad, both payable at par at all branches of the respective banks.
Since both the cheques were dishonoured at Ahmadabad, in the light of Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dashrath Rupsingh Rathore vs. State of Maharashtra (Criminal Appeal No. 2287 of 2009), Mumbai Court will have no jurisdiction to entertain and try the complaint.
Since both the cheques were payable at all branches of respective banks and both were dishonoured by the Mumbai branches of State Bank of India and Bank of Maharashtra situated within the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Magistrate, Kurla, the respondent No.2 was right in filing the complaint in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate at Kurla.
Which Court would have the territorial jurisdiction to try the offence, when the cheque payable at all branches of the drawee bank has been dishonoured by one of the branches of the drawee bank, i.e. whether the payee has to file complaint in the Court of Magistrate having jurisdiction over Gandhi Nagar branches or the branches which have dishonoured cheques.
The Bombay High Court made reference to the Supreme Court’s judgment in Dashrath case (supra) to point out some of the findings in that case-
“Once the cause of action accrues to the complainant, the jurisdiction of the Court to try the case will be determined by reference to the place where the cheque is dishonoured.”
“Prosecution in such cases can, therefore, be launched against the drawer of the cheque only before the Court within whose jurisdiction the dishonour takes place except in situations where the offence of dishonour of the cheque punishable under Section 138 is committed along with other offences in a single transaction within the meaning of Section 220(1) read with Section 184 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or is covered by the provisions of Section 182(1) read with Sections 184
and 220 thereof.”
Bombay High Court, therefore, concluded by saying-
“by issuing cheques payable at all branches, the drawer of the cheques had given an option to the banker of payee to get the cheques cleared from the nearest available branch of bank of the drawer. It, therefore, follows that the cheques have been dishonoured within the territorial jurisdiction of Court of Metropolitan Magistrate at Kurla. In view of judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Dashrath v. State of Maharashtra cited (supra), the learned Metropolitan Magistrate of Kurla Court has jurisdiction to entertain and decide the complaint in question.”
EFFECT OF THE JUDGMENT
All the cases of cheque bouncing, where the cheque was payable at all branches of the bank, can be filed in the court within whose local jurisdiction the nearest available branch of Drawer’s bank was situated.
Read Dashrath Case here
Image from here