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Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act: Bombay High Court issues practice directions for trial courts

The directions are as follows:

– Magistrates having jurisdiction to try offences shall record cogent and sufficient reasons before converting a complaint under section 138 from summary trial to summons trial in exercise of power under the second proviso of section 143 of NI Act after due care and caution;

– On receipt of of complaint where the accused is found to be beyond the territorial jurisdiction of magistrate concerned, an inquiry shall be conducted by the Magistrate under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to arrive at sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused;

– While conducting such inquiry, the evidence of witnesses on behalf of the complainant may be permitted to be taken on affidavit or in suitable cases, the magistrate may not insist on examination of witnesses for satisfaction as to the sufficiency of grounds for proceeding;

– Trial Court shall treat service of summons in one complaint under section 138 of the N.I. Act forming part of a transaction, as deemed service in respect of all complaints filed before the same Court relating to the dishonor of cheques issued as a part of the same transaction;

– The inherent power to review or recall the issue of summons shall not affect the power of the Trial Court under section 322 of CrPC 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 complaint;

– Section 258 of Cr.P.C. has no applicability to complaints under section 138. The words “as far as may be” in section 143 are used only in respect of applicability of sections 262 to 265 of the Code and the summary procedure to be followed for trials;

– The appellate courts before which appeals against the judgments in complaint under section 138 are pending are directed to make an effort to settle the dispute through mediation.

Source: Barandbench

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