Special Correspondent

Series of inter-linked acts can be tried at one trial

CHENNAI: Clarifying a question of law governing dishonoured cheque cases, a Division Bench of the Madras High Court has said that if the offences are of the same kind and formed part of the same transaction, then the accused can be charged and tried at one trial.

The Bench comprising Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice S. Manikumar was passing orders on a criminal original petition filed by one Manjula, whose 16 cheques issued to a Mumbai-based company on different dates were returned by Indian Bank for want of sufficient funds. Counsel for the accused submitted that the criminal proceedings were liable to be quashed because under Section 219 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, more than three offences of the same kind committed within a year could not be clubbed together.

The respondent-company argued that though the cheques were drawn and given to the company on different dates, the company had presented all the cheques on a same day. There was only one statutory or lawyer's notice to the accused.

A single judge referred the matter to a larger Bench because single judges had taken different stands. In its order, the present Bench dismissed the petition of Ms. Manjula and said: "Even though different cheques were given on different dates, the presentation of all those cheques formed the same transaction. Further, the demand was also made by the complainant-company on the dishonouring of the cheques by giving one lawyer's notice and not several demands for the payment of the dishonoured cheques. In those circumstances, we are of the view that the petitioner/accused may be charged and tried at one trial for several such offences, because the series of acts are so inter-linked or inter-connected."