Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Right To Cross Examination Cannot Be Denied To Accused For Failure To Deposit Interim Compensation U/Sec 143A NI Act: Supreme Court

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Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881; Section 143A - Failure of accused to pay interim compensation - The amount can be recovered as if it were fine - The provision nowhere contemplates that an accused who had failed to deposit interim compensation could be fastened with any other disability including denial of the right to cross-examine the witnesses examined on behalf of the complainant. (Para 12-14)

The Supreme Court observed that right to cross-examine the witnesses examined on behalf of the complainant cannot be denied to an accused for his failure to deposit interim compensation under Section 143A of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

"Any such order foreclosing the right would not be within the powers conferred upon the court and would, as a matter of fact, go well beyond the permissible exercise of power", the bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia observed.

In this case (cheque bounce complaint), an order was passed by the Trial Court directing the accused to deposit 20% of the cheque amount as interim compensation in terms of Section 143A of the Act within 60 days. Since the accused did not deposit the said amount even after an extended period, an application made on behalf of the accused under Section 145(2) of the Act seeking permission to cross-examine the complainant was dismissed. Subsequently, he was found guilty under Section 138 NI Act. The appellate court and later the Karnataka High Court upheld the conviction and sentence imposed on the accused.

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