CHENNAI: Observing that the society expects an advocate to be its guardian against State tyranny and not become a tyrant himself, the Madras High Court, showing leniency, suspended the sentence awarded by a lower court to a lawyer in a cheque bounce case.
Reversing an order dated February 20, 2013 of the II Additional District and Sessions Court in Ranipet, which acquitted the advocate from all charges, Justice PN Prakash said that every such episode would bring down the esteem of the Bar in the eyes of the public and that would also have a cascading effect on the Bench.
Originally, one AN Chandru lodged a complaint that advocate K Jayasankar borrowed Rs 50,000 from him on June 15, 2005 by executing a promissory note and agreed to repay the amount on demand with interest at 24% per annum. Towards the discharge of the said liability, Jayasankar issued a cheque for Rs 60,000, But it was dishonoured by the bank for want of funds.
During trial, Jayasankar submitted that he had issued the cheque only as a security, to the complainant and not towards discharge of any liability.
Refusing to accept his contentions, the district munsif-cum-judicial magistrate-I, Walajahpet convicted Jayasankar and sentenced him to one-year rigorous imprisonment and to pay a compensation of Rs 75,000 to Chandru.
Jayasankar preferred an appeal and the II Addl. District and Session Court, Ranipet, on February 20, 2013 acquitted him of all charges.
Assailing the acquittal, Chandru moved the High Court with the present appeal. Allowing it, the judge said that one must bear in mind that the accused is not an ordinary farmer or an illiterate peasant, but an advocate practising in the local Bar. Therefore, the contention of the accused that he had issued the cheque just like that, without obtaining loan from the complainant, is too big a pill to swallow.
This court has no hesitation in holding that the accused had borrowed Rs 50,000 from the complainant and had issued the cheque towards discharge of the said liability. Since cheque bounce case is quasi-civil in nature, Parliament had thought it fit to make it compoundable at any time. Therefore, the sentence is suspended till January 15, by which time, if the accused deposits Rs 75,000 towards compensation and Rs 1 lakh towards exemplary cost, the Magistrate may compound the offence and disburse the sum to the complainant, if he is alive, or otherwise, to his legal heirs, the judge said.