AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court has directed all courts hearing cases of cheque return to use technology and give a chance to the accused to settle the dispute by depositing the sum in complainant’s account, so that the court can dispense with the presence of the accused and the case could end before the trial.
On guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, the high court has suggested a pro forma of summons that is issued to the accused when a cheque issued by him is dishonoured and when the complainant seeks his prosecution under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
The pro forma summons given by Justice Sonia Gokani for trial courts mentions the amount to be paid by the accused. It mentions the bank account details of the complainant and the official e-mail ID of the court.
If the accused desires, he can make payment in the account and then give an online intimation to the court. If the complainant does not have any grievance after receiving the payment, he too can inform the court and the accused person’s presence can be dispensed with. The trial court can give the accused a discharge straightaway.
The court further said that if compounding at the initial stage is not feasible, attempt should be made to ensure that the parties amicably arrive at a conclusion subject to appropriate compensation.
The HC said so while quashing an order of acquittal in a cheque bounce case, in which the complainant failed to attend court proceedings on two occasions.
The accused, however, dodged acceptance of various court notices. To avoid delay in securing presence of the accused, the HC said that the advanced electronic communication technology – e-mail or text message on official mobile numbers – can be put to use to expedite the process of summons.
The courts are concerned about quick disposal of cheque return cases by way of settlement because it is a compoundable offence. The HC noticed that the cases filed under Section 138 of the NI Act constitute 20% of total cases filed in courts across the country. This heavy rush towards courts over dishonour of cheques has also been mentioned in 213th report of the Law Commission.