The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) in a communication sent to Union Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman today has drawn the attention of the Government rapid increase in numbers of dishonoured cheques which has become one of the most crucial & critical issue concerning trade and commerce in the Country and has lowered down the creditability of cheque instrument which is one of the most vital component of banking transactions in the Country.
The entire trading community in the Country is deeply perturbed over cheque dishonouring and much long period to obtain justice from the Courts. The CAIT has suggested the Finance Minister for formation of Fast Track Courts to deal with the case of bounced cheques as an immediate option to effectively deal with this critical issue beside bringing amendments in Section 138 of The Negotiable Instrument Act,1881.
CAIT National President Mr. B.C.Bhartia & Secretary General Mr. Praveen Khandelwal in communication to Mrs. Seetharaman invoked her attention towards 213th Law Commission Report which says that there are about 40 lakh cheque bounce cases, choking the justice delivery system in the country, which makes it clear that this single category of cases constitutes a major portion of all pending cases in the judicial system.
It is worthwhile to mention that a Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel observed on 20th June,2018 that more than 20 per cent of the cases in subordinate courts dealt with bounced cheques—which is a criminal offence involving penal as well as pecuniary punishment—and thus norms had to be laid down to expedite decisions and encourage compounding of offences under Section 138 of the Act.
Both Mr. Bhartia & Mr. Khandelwal said that as such there is an urgent need to look into Section 138 of The Negotiable Instrument Act,1881 and require effective steps by the Government to restore creditability of issuing cheques. Beside bringing amendments in the above said Act for making more stringent provisions, we suggest that as an immediate measure, the Government should set up Fast Track Courts at each District level in the Country to dispose off the cheque bounce cases in a time bound manner.
They further said that it is astonishing to note that in cases of dishonoured cheques, the highest average pendency is seen in Gujarat, with cases pending on average for 3,608 days (a little less than 10 years), whereas Himachal Pradesh has the lowest average pendency of 967 days (nearly two years and nine months). Such a long period in settling the bounced cheque cases is nothing but a living example of the dictum ” Justice delayed is Justice denied” which is much against the vision and mandate of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
The inability of the courts to adjudicate these cases in a timely manner is a serious infringement of the fundamental rights of litigants.This mistrust of cheques encouraged a move towards cash transactions which brought a host of their own problems, such as counterfeit notes, corruption, and large amounts of untraceable and untaxable money.
Mr. Bhartia & Mr. Khandelwal also said that both the higher judiciary and the legislature have expressed concern at this phenomenon and reiterated the need to implement mechanisms for the speedy disposal of cases under Section 138 on numerous occasions. Given the commercial nature of these cases, delay in the disposal of cheque bounce cases affects trade and commerce as well.
In his speech to the Indian Parliament, while introducing the Annual Budget for the year 2017–2018 the then Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley spoke about the need to reduce the time taken to redress cheque bounce cases, remarking on the complexity of the litigation process and the length of time traders have to spend in litigation in order to recover money. Therefore, it is the time for the Government to take speedy action on this vital issue.