30-40% pendency due to cheque bounce cases ‘intractable problem’

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New Delhi, March 3 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the huge pendency of cheque dishonour cases has become an intractable problem, which accounts for 30-40 per cent cases in the trial courts and a very high percentage in the high courts.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde along with Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat suggested that the government should establish additional courts for the better administration of laws: the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (NI Act) under Article 247 of the Constitution.

Article 247 says Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, Parliament may by law provide for the establishment of any additional courts for the better administration of laws made Parliament or of any existing laws with respect to a matter enumerated in the Union List.

The bench noted that prima facie this Article confers a power coupled with duty on the government to establish additional courts, for better administration of laws made by Parliament.

“There is no doubt or dispute about the fact that matters under the N.I. Act have posed what by now has become an intractable problem/accounting for close to 30 to 40 per cent of the pendency in the trial courts and a very high percentage in the High Courts also”, said the bench.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, representing the Centre, submitted that the Ministry of Finance has suggested that instead of setting up of additional courts, certain measures specified in para 6(a) of the Office Memorandum dated March 2, 2021 produced in the court, be implemented.

“It is not necessary to reproduce and analyse the impact of the measures suggested by the Union of India. Suffice it to say that having gone through the measures and heard learned counsel on the said measures, we find that the measures are, to say the least, inadequate for the purpose”, noted the bench.

Banerjee also suggested the matter requires wide ranging discussion of various stakeholders and officers and the secretaries of various ministries who will be able to suggest a solution to the problems of pendency of the cases under NI Act.

“This suggestion is completely acceptable to us. We might add that it would be necessary to have a former Judge who has had wide ranging experience as a trial judge, on the Committee”, said the top court. The matter has scheduled for further on Thursday.

The top court has taken suo motu cognizance to work out a mechanism for expeditious and just adjudication of cases connected with dishonoured cheques.