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Additional Courts for Cheque Bounce Cases Soon? Centre Agrees to SC Committee’s Suggestion

In order to resolve the rising number of cheque bounce cases, the government has agreed to comply with the Supreme Court in setting up additional courts.

Earlier this month, the apex court had termed the pendency of cheque bounce cases at all levels in the judiciary “grotesque” and urged the Centre to use its power under Article 247 of the Constitution to create additional courts for better administration of the Act.

This came after a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde proposed a committee led by a former Bombay High Court judge to suggest ways to facilitate the early disposal of cheque dishonour cases clogging courts across the country.

The Committee submitted its preliminary report in October 2020 and later backed it with supplementary notes proposing a slew of measures for reforming the system. Setting up additional courts was one of the steps they had proposed. In addition, they demanded summary trial of cases, mediation and attachment of property to the extent of the cheque amount as steps to expedite trial in cheque bounce cases.

When over three crore cases are pending in the trial courts, HCs and SC, the CJI-led constitution bench in its order said, “In this suo motu initiated proceedings, this court is considering the great delays that are occurring in the disposal of cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act. In turn, these delays are creating a logjam in the courts at all three levels, particularly in the trial courts and the HCs. The pendency of these cases constitute 30% of the total pendency in courts.”

During the last hearing, the Department of Financial Services, through additional solicitor general Vikramjit Banerjee, had told the SC that “one of the major factors for the high pendency is the delay in ensuring the presence of the accused before the court for trial. It is understood that most cases are pending due to absence of the accused. Under such circumstances, it is not clear how additional specific courts would provide a solution to the problem of the large number of pending cases.”