SUPREME COURT OF INDIA – WHETHER THE COURT HAS POWER TO CLOSE THE PROCEEDINGS OF A CHEQUE BOUNCE CASE WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE COMPLAINANT?
Yes the Court has the power to close the proceedings of a cheque bounce case without the consent of the Complainant.
The question for consideration before the Supreme Court of India in M/s Meters and Instruments Private Limited & Anr. versus Kanchan Mehta was that if the accused is willing to deposit the cheque amount can the proceedings be closed under such circumstances.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that where the Accused is ready to pay the cheque amount along with interest and cost as assessed by the Court by a specified date, the Court is entitled to close the proceedings in exercise of its powers under Section 143 of the Act read with Section 258 Code of Criminal Procedure.
It has been further held that in every summons that would be issued to the accused it may be mentioned that if the accused deposits the specified amount by a specified date, having regard to the cheque amount and interest/cost which would be assessed by the Court, the accused need not appear unless required and proceedings may be closed provided there is no valid objection by the complainant. If the accused complies with such summons and informs the Court and the complainant by e-mail, the Court can ascertain the objection, if any, of the complainant and close the proceedings unless it becomes necessary to proceed with the case.
It is further explained by the Supreme Court of India that the nature of offence under Section 138 primarily related to a civil wrong and the 2002 amendment specifically made it compoundable. The intention of the provision was to ensure that the complainant received the amount of cheque by way of compensation. The complainant could be given not only the cheque amount but double the amount so as to cover interest and costs. In view of the above scheme, this Court held that the accused could make an application for compounding at the first or second hearing in which case the Court ought to allow the same. If such application is made later, the accused was required to pay higher amount towards cost etc. This Court has also laid down that even if the payment of the cheque amount, in terms of proviso (b) to Section 138 of the Act was not made, the Court could permit such payment being made immediately after receiving notice/summons of the court.