Eight Gujarat courts to deal with dishonoured cheques only

October 18th, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Oct 18 (IANS) Eight courts have come up in Gujarat to exclusively deal with bounced cheques, said a judicial official, adding “unless we have a system of quick disposal of cases relating to dishonoured cheques, investment growth will not take place”.”We have inaugurated eight courts exclusively to deal with 138 matters (Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act deals with dishonoured cheques),” said Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan.

He was speaking here Saturday at a function to inaugurate the eight special criminal courts to try cases of bounced cheques.

“Judiciary is playing a vital role in matter of industrial investment and commercial and mercantile activities. Unless we have a system of quick disposal of cases relating to dishonoured cheques the investment growth will not take place and economic growth will be affected. NRI or any other investor can be invited to Gujarat only if he feels that his money is safe,” he said.

The Negotiable Instruments Act was amended to enhance credibility and for enforcing financial discipline and easy recovery.

“There were all types of hassles and procedural delays. So we felt that it should come under the penal law as the ultimate idea was to deliver speedy justice. In 2002, the punishment was enhanced to two years from the earlier one year,” said Radhakrishnan.

In a conference of high court chief justices in 2007, it was decided to set up additional magisterial courts to deal with complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

“This is the first time in the country that special courts have been established to try 138 matters,” said Radhakrishnan.

He said that of the 249,747 pending cases of dishonoured cheques, there are 86,000 cases pending in Ahmedabad courts alone.

“I am sure six months from now when we review the functioning of these eight courts, most of them would have been disposed (off),” he said.

Law and Justice Minister Amit Shah said in the forthcoming days, 50 more such courts will be established in the state.

“In 2010, we hope that a case will be disposed off within a year,” said Amit Shah.

From now on all cases of bounced cheques will be tried by the eight special criminal courts unlike in the past when civil courts took up the matter, he said.

“In the US, if a cheque bounces the drawer is immediately taken into custody. Here it takes 10 years and the drawer is also not bothered about the consequences,” said Mohit S. Shah, seniormost judge in the Gujarat High Court.

He told the lawyers not to think of a case under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act as just another case. For a businessman who is left with a bounced cheque it is a question of liquidity as his business can come to a grinding halt.

“We had discussed these issues with the union law ministry in July and August and we got the nod immediately,” said Mohit Shah.

“Out of the 86,000 cases relating to 138, only 25,000 are ready to be taken. In over 60,000 cases even summons have not been issued,” he said.

“It is a sad state of affairs that the complainants have to frequently come to the court to see whether summons have been issued. Monitoring the summons by the judicial authorities is very important,” said Mohit Shah.

“Special courts have benefited the state whether they are fast track courts or evening courts. In the long run at every district level where commercial litigation takes place, special courts dealing with 138 cases will ensure speedy disposal,” said additional judge of Gujarat High Court Jayant M. Patel.

“Maintain quality if you think the people should have faith in you,” Patel told the lawyers.

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