Cheque Bounce is something that all of us would have faced in our lives. However, did you know that the person who had issued the cheque can go to prison for the same? The dishonor of a cheque drawn in furtherance of discharging, any debt or other liability owed by such drawer, is considered to be a criminal offense in India, punishable by imprisonment of up to 2 years, or with fine which may extend to twice the amount of the cheque, or with both. Hence, we have discussed below the legal provisions dealing with issues of cheque bounce.
As it stands, the ingredients required to constitute an offense relating to the dishonor of cheques have been mentioned within Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, and have been reproduced below:
The intention of the drawer is not considered relevant while deciding his culpability under this Section. Furthermore, it is worth noting that Section 141 of the Negotiable Instruments Act also renders liable, companies, partnership firms, and other associations of individuals liable for the offense mentioned in Section 138. Typically, the persons in charge of the company (usually directors or partners, as the case may be) are held liable for punishment under the same. They may claim defense on the grounds that the offense was committed without their knowledge or that they had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offense. The Court trying a case under Section 138 may order for interim compensation not exceeding twenty percent of the amount of the cheque to the payee during the pendency of the case.
If you have been presented with a cheque which gets dishonored, you can take the following steps:
Once your cheque bounces, you will be served with a notice to make the payment within 15 days of such notice. If you fail to do so, a complaint against you may be filed. You will be summoned to the Court, and a court proceeding will commence. It is advisable to take legal help in such circumstances.
Cheque bounce offenses lead to imprisonment of up to 2 years along with fine. Furthermore, intention does not play a role in affixing liability. Hence, you may be held liable, despite not intending to dishonor the cheque. The severity and seriousness of this offense hence need to be understood. It is pertinent to take care that if this offense has been committed unintentionally, the amount promised should be paid within the stipulated time period of 15 days. Also, it is preferred that in the event of such a situation arising; one should approach a lawyer and take advice.
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