Guidelines of Supreme Court for early disposal of cheque dishonour cases

The upshot of the above discussion leads us to the

following conclusions:

1) The High Courts are requested to issue practice

directions to the Magistrates to record reasons before

converting trial of complaints under Section 138 of the

Act from summary trial to summons trial.

2) Inquiry shall be conducted on receipt of complaints

under Section 138 of the Act to arrive at sufficient

grounds to proceed against the accused, when such

accused resides beyond the territorial jurisdiction of

the court.


3) For the conduct of inquiry under Section 202 of the

Code, evidence of witnesses on behalf of the

complainant shall be permitted to be taken on

affidavit. In suitable cases, the Magistrate can restrict

the inquiry to examination of documents without

insisting for examination of witnesses.

4) We recommend that suitable amendments be made to

the Act for provision of one trial against a person for

multiple offences under Section 138 of the Act

committed within a period of 12 months,

notwithstanding the restriction in Section 219 of the


5) The High Courts are requested to issue practice

directions to the Trial Courts to treat service of

summons in one complaint under Section 138 forming

part of a transaction, as deemed service in respect of

all the complaints filed before the same court relating

to dishonour of cheques issued as part of the said


6) Judgments of this Court in Adalat Prasad (supra) and

Subramanium Sethuraman (supra) have interpreted

the law correctly and we reiterate that there is no

inherent power of Trial Courts to review or recall the

issue of summons. This does not affect the power of

the Trial Court under Section 322 of the Code to revisit

the order of issue of process in case it is brought to the

court’s notice that it lacks jurisdiction to try the


7) Section 258 of the Code is not applicable to complaints

under Section 138 of the Act and findings to the

contrary in Meters and Instruments (supra) do not

lay down correct law. To conclusively deal with this

aspect, amendment to the Act empowering the Trial

Courts to reconsider/recall summons in respect of

complaints under Section 138 shall be considered by

the Committee constituted by an order of this Court

dated 10.03.2021.

8) All other points, which have been raised by the Amici

Curiae in their preliminary report and written

submissions and not considered herein, shall be the

subject matter of deliberation by the aforementioned

Committee. Any other issue relating to expeditious

disposal of complaints under Section 138 of the Act

shall also be considered by the Committee. {Para 24}






138 OF N.I. ACT 1881.

Dated: April 16, 2021

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