NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has sought an action-taken report from all 24 high courts on the pace of disposal of cheque bounce cases, which have been clogging the courts for years.
A Bench headed by Justice Adarsh K Goel has directed the registrar generals of every high court to ready their reports and send it to the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court, who will then collate all the reports and present them on July 15, the next date of hearing.
The reports by the high courts ought to clarify whether practice directions have been issued to the trial courts for expediting the cheque bounce cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
These reports will also need to point out the extent to which the directives by the high courts comply with the Supreme Court judgement last year in M/s Meters and Instruments Private Ltd vs Kanchan Mehta case, whereby the apex court had sought to simplify and speed up the process of trials in cases of dishonoured cheques.
The bench had noted 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.
The maximum sentence under Section 138 is two years’ jail, with or without fine.