There has been an increase in the number of cheque bounce cases piling up in the judicial magistrate courts of the city.
A large number of these result from complaints filed by banks and other financial institutions. At present, almost half of the criminal cases pending before them are cheque bounce cases registered under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act, according to the statistics provided by the District Legal Services Authority, Chennai.
P. Kalaiyarasan, Principal Sessions Judge said: “We have disposed 10,565 cases through Mega Lok Adalat. Still, 44,089 cheque bounce cases are pending in the courts. It is nearly half the mark in the total number of criminal cases, 90,238.”
“We are referring more cheque bounce cases to Lok Adalat. As banks and financial institutions come forward to reduce the interest amount or principal, the cases get resolved through the alternative dispute resolution method,” Mr. Kalaiyarasan said.
Section 142 of the NI Act empowers courts to take cognisance of offences punishable under Section 138 of the Act in the event of a cheque issued by a drawer being dishonoured.
M. Muthalagan, secretary of Saidapet Bar Association, said, “More than cases filed by individuals, a larger number are filed by the financial companies and banks before the magistrate courts here. There are an inadequate number of courts available to handle such a huge number of cases.”
D. Saravanan, Advocate and arbitrator said: “Now, more consumers have been availing of the financial facility for the purchase of immovable properties and movable properties such as cars, two wheelers, durables. Such loans should be repayable in easy monthly instalments. Towards repayment of finance amount and finance charges, banks and financial institutions are in the practice of collecting post-dated cheques from the customers.” In the event of dishonour of cheques, the financial institutions are rushing to lodge a complaint under Section 138 of the Act. As a result, the cases are piling up, said Mr. Saravanan.
According to lawyers, several cases are pending due to non-service of summons to the accused. In spite of receipt of summons, the Court’s powers have been curtailed with bailable warrants. Taking advantage of the same, the accused persons have been delaying proceedings, lawyers say.
Lawyers suggest that the court’s power to issue non-bailable warrants, in the case of non-appearance of the accused, be restored.
They account for almost half of the 90,238 criminal cases pending before magistrate courts
Most of the complaints over dishonoured cheques are filed by banks and other financial institutions