Showing posts with label Interpretation of statute. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interpretation of statute. Show all posts

09 September 2020

Complaint u/s. 138 of N.I. Act for cheque bounce is maintainable if cheque is presented and gets dishonoured for the second time after the period of first demand notice is expired

The expression ‘cause of action’ appearing in Section 142 (b) of the Act cannot therefore be understood to be limited to any given requirement out of the three requirements that are mandatory for launching a prosecution on the basis of a dishonoured cheque. Having said that<, every time a cheque is presented in the manner and within the time stipulated under the proviso to Section 138 followed by a notice within the meaning of clause (b) of proviso to Section 138 and the drawer fails to make the payment of the amount within the stipulated period of fifteen days after the date of receipt of such notice, a cause of action accrues to the holder of the cheque to institute proceedings for prosecution of the drawer.[Para No.20]

    There is, in our view, nothing either in Section 138 or Section 142 to curtail the said right of the payee, leave alone a forfeiture of the said right for no better reason than the failure of the holder of the cheque to institute prosecution against the drawer when the cause of action to do so had first arisen. Simply because the prosecution for an offence under Section 138  must on the language of Section 142 be instituted within one month from the date of the failure of the drawer to make the payment does not in our view militate against the accrual of multiple causes of action to the holder of the cheque upon failure of the drawer to make the payment of the cheque amount. In the absence of any juristic principle on which such failure to prosecute on the basis of the first default in payment should result in forfeiture, we find it difficult to hold that the payee would lose his right to institute such proceedings on a subsequent default that satisfies all the three requirements of Section 138.[Para No.21]

Complaint u/s. 138 of N.I. Act for cheque bounce is maintainable if cheque is presented and gets dishonoured for the second time after the period of first demand notice is expired
    That brings us to the question whether an offence punishable under Section 138 can be committed only once as held by this Court in Sadanandan Bhadran’s case (supra). The holder of a cheque as seen earlier can present it before a bank any number of times within the period of six months or during the period of its validity, whichever is earlier. This right of the holder to present the cheque for encashment carries with it a corresponding obligation on the part of the drawer to ensure that the cheque drawn by him is honoured by the bank who stands in the capacity of an agent of the drawer vis-à-vis the holder of the cheque. If the holder of the cheque has a right, as indeed is in the unanimous opinion expressed in the decisions on the subject, there is no reason why the corresponding obligation of the drawer should also not continue every time the cheque is presented for encashment if it satisfies the requirements stipulated in that clause (a) to the proviso to Section 138. There is nothing in that proviso to even remotely suggest that clause (a) would have no application to a cheque presented for the second time if the same has already been dishonoured once. Indeed if the legislative intent was to restrict prosecution only to cases arising out of the first dishonour of a cheque nothing prevented it from stipulating so in clause (a) itself. In the absence of any such provision a dishonour whether based on a second or any successive presentation of a cheque for encashment would be a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 and clause (a) to proviso thereof. We have, therefore, no manner of doubt that so long as the cheque remains unpaid it is the continuing obligation of the drawer to make good the same by either arranging the funds in the account on which the cheque is drawn or liquidating the liability otherwise. It is true that a dishonour of the cheque can be made a basis for prosecution of the offender but once, but that is far from saying that the holder of the cheque does not have the discretion to choose out of several such defaults, one default, on which to launch such a prosecution. The omission or the failure of the holder to institute prosecution does not, therefore, give any immunity to the drawer so long as the cheque is dishonoured within its validity period and the conditions precedent for prosecution in terms of the proviso to Section 138 are satisfied.[Para No.22]

02 September 2020

Laws are deemed to apply prospectively unless expressly specified to apply retrospectively

Per contra, the respondent would urge that in the fact situation of the present case, the department has correctly levied the customs duty, as the DTA sales made were in contravention of the EXIM policy and the appellant had no permission from the Development Commissioner to clear the goods in DTA. The respondent further urged that the amendment seeks to bring about a substantive change, whilst pointing out that the CBEC Circular in its opening paragraph speaks about “carrying out” the amendment. Further, the amendment must be applied prospectively. Reliance is placed upon the decision of this Court in Union of India & Anr. vs. IndusInd Bank Limited & Anr. , wherein it has been held that if the provision is remedial in nature, it cannot be construed as clarificatory or declaratory and has to be applied prospectively.[Para No.8]

    The issues that arise for consideration in this appeal are: (i) Whether customs duty can be charged on the non­excisable goods produced in India and sold in DTA by an EOU?; and (ii) Whether the amendment in terms of Notification No. 56/01­Cus dated 18.05.2001, purporting to amend the criteria for determination of duty on inputs, is prospective or retrospective in its application?[Para No.10]

    Moving to the second question, the show cause notice was issued to the appellant prior to the issuance of the amendment notification. In this backdrop, let us now examine the contention of the appellant that the amendment notification being retrospective in its application. The relevant portion of the said notification is reproduced hereunder:
“NOTIFICATION NO. 56 /2001­CUS DATED 18.5.2001 In exercise of the powers conferred by sub­section (1) of section 25 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), the Central Government being satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, hereby directs that each of the notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue), specified in column (2) of the Table hereto annexed shall be amended or further amended, as the case may be, in the manner specified in the corresponding entry in column (3) of the said Table.
TABLE Sr.No Notification No. Amendment and Date (1) (2) (3) xxx Xxx xxx
8. 126/94­Cus In the said notification,­ dated the 3rd June, 1994
(a) in the first paragraph, in condition (6), after clause (d), the following shall be inserted, namely:­ " (e) permit destruction of rejects and waste without payment of duty within the unit, or outside the said unit, where it is not possible or permissible to destroy the same within the said unit, in the presence of Customs or Central Excise officer.";
(b) in paragraph 2, in the proviso, for the words and figures "duty of 15% ad valorem", the words and figure "duty of 5% ad valorem" shall be substituted;
(c) in paragraph 3, in clause
(a), for the words "on payment of customs duty on the said goods used for the purpose of production, manufacture or packaging of such articles in an amount equal to the customs duty leviable on such articles as if imported as such.", the following shall be substituted, namely:­ "customs duty equal in amount to that leviable on inputs obtained under this notification and used for the purpose of production, manufacture or packaging of such articles, which would have been paid, but for the exemption under this notification, shall be payable at the time of clearance of such articles......
[Para No.23]

Laws are deemed to apply prospectively unless expressly specified to apply retrospectively
   As can be seen, the aforesaid notification posits of carrying out amendments and substituting the charging clause of the inputs used in case of non­excisable goods. The language employed in the notification does not offer any guidance on whether the amendments as made were to apply prospectively or retrospectively. It is a settled proposition of law that all laws are deemed to apply prospectively unless either expressly specified to apply retrospectively or intended to have been done so by the legislature. The latter would be a case of necessary implication and it cannot be inferred lightly.[Para No.24]

31 August 2020

Benefit of bail u/s.436A of Cr.P.C. is available only to under-trial prisoners and not to convicted who has filed an appeal

Upon the closer examination of the language used in Section 436-A of the Code, it can be seen without any difficulty or doubt that the benefit intended to be given is for a person who has, during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial under the Code of an offence, not being an offence for which capital punishment has been prescribed as one of the punishments, undergone detention for a period extending up to one half of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence under that law. In such a case, the person is required to be released on his personal bond with or without sureties in normal course of circumstances. But, there could be some special circumstances justifying his further detention, for reasons to be recorded, which makes the right of the person limited and not absolute. This is evident from the first proviso which lays down that the Court may, after hearing the Public Prosecutor and for reasons to be recorded in writing, order continued detention of the person for a period longer than one half of the period mentioned in the Section or release him on bail instead of the personal bond with or without sureties. However, this limited right has the potential of becoming absolute when the condition prescribed in second proviso is fulfilled. The condition is that if the person has been detained during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial for more than maximum period of imprisonment provided for an offence under that law, the person has to be released. There is also an explanation appended to the section. It lays down that in computing the period of detention for granting bail, the period of detention passed due to delay in proceeding caused by the accused shall be excluded.[Para No.18]

Benefit of bail u/s.436A of Cr.P.C. is available only to under-trial prisoners and not to convicted who has filed an appeal
    Reading the Section as a whole, we find that the benefit under the section has been intended to be given only to the under-trial prisoners. The words "during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial" and the words "maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence" are significant. They indicate that only that person who has undergone detention for a period of one half or more of the maximum prescribed punishment during investigation, inquiry or trial under the Code who is eligible for his release on personal bond with or without sureties or bail, as the case may be. The Section does not say that a person who has been detained for one half period of imprisonment imposed would be eligible. Mentioning of "the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence under that law" and omission of the words "punishment imposed" shows that the legislature was aware of the difference in the status of an undertrial prisoner and a convict, and with it of the consequences of detaining a person who enjoys presumption of innocence till found guilty for unduly long time. Such presumption of innocence being absent in case of a convict, the legislature refrained, and consciously, from mentioning the words "punishment imposed". This clearly shows the intention of the legislature to confer the benefit on the under- trials and not the convicts. This being the position, we do not think that rule of liberal construction would have any application here.[Para No.19]

    There are further indications about the clarity of intention of the legislature. The provision refers to "investigation, inquiry and trial under  the Code". There can be no doubt about what "investigation or inquiry" means as they have been defined in Section 2(h) and Section 2(g) of the Code respectively. The doubt, however, could be about meaning of the word "trial" as it has not been defined in the Code. It has not been defined in the General Clauses Act either. So, we have to turn to its dictionary meaning, if it helps. In Black's Law Dictionary (9th Edition page 1644) "trial" has been defined to be a formal judicial examination of evidence and determination of legal claims in a advisory proceeding. This definition is too general an explanation of "trial" and, therefore, it would not help us in understanding its meaning here. So, we must again revert to the Code, in an attempt to understand the sense in which the word "trial" has been used in Section 436-A of the Code or to be precise, to know, as to whether or not the trial of an accused goes beyond his conviction and continues, if appeal is filed under 374 of the Code, till it is finally decided, or it culminates upon acquittal or conviction for the purpose of Section 436-A of the Code.[Para No.20]

    As these provisions create a step-wise mechanism to procedurally deal with crimes and so the word, "trial" used in Section 436-A would get it's meaning in the context of this scheme of the Code, at least for the purpose which is sought to be achieved by the provision of Section 436-A. Under this scheme of the Code, "trial" of a person accused of an offence is contemplated only by a Court having original criminal jurisdiction or assuming original criminal jurisdiction after committal of a Sessions case and appeal as a remedy against the judgment of conviction and/or sentence or even acquittal has been made available before the Court exercising Appellate jurisdiction. In this sense, so far as the Section 436- A benefit is concerned, the word "trial" has to be understood in contra-distinction to an "appeal proceeding". Our conclusion is further bolstered up by the provisions contained in Section 353. Provisions contained in Section 389 also help us in drawing of such an inference. It would be, therefore, convenient for us to quote relevant portions of these sections here. They are as under :
"353. Judgment - (1) The judgment in every trial in any Criminal Court of original jurisdiction shall be pronounced in open Court by the presiding officer immediately after the termination of the trial or at some subsequent time of which notice shall be given to the parties or their pleaders,
(a) by delivering the whole of the judgment; or
(b) by reading out the whole of the judgment; or
(c)  by reading out the operative part of thej udgment and explaining the substance of the judgment in a language which is understood by the accused or his pleader."
   "389. Suspension of sentence pending the appeal; release of appellant on bail. - (1) Pending any appeal by a convicted person, the Appellate Court may, for reasons to be recorded by it in writing, order that the execution of the sentence or order appealed against be suspended and, also, if he is in confinement, that he be released on bail, or on his own bond:
Provided that the Appellate Court shall, before releasing on bail or on his own bond a convicted person who is convicted of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, shall give opportunity to the Public Prosecutor for showing cause in writing against such release:"
    It is clear from Section 353 that it requires a criminal Court to pronounce judgment in every trial in open Court immediately "after the termination of the trial or at some subsequent time". It is indicative of the fact that upon pronouncement of the judgment, in the contemplation of the scheme of the Code, there occurs termination of the trial. If we examine Section 389 of the Code, on the backdrop of Section 353, we would find that under the scheme of the Code, appeal has been considered to be a stage separate from trial, which comes into being after pronouncement of the judgment upon termination of the trial. In other words, unless there is termination of trial, there is no question of stage of appeal being born. That means the words "trial" and "appeal" have been used in distinctive sense thereby signaling that no one makes a mistake in understanding that "trial" is not synonymous with "appeal", when it comes to extending benefit available to an under trial prisoner to a convict undergoing sentence of imprisonment.
Of course, in general sense, appeal could be said to be an extension of trial on the parameters of rights available to a convict, principles to be followed by Appellate Court in appreciation of evidence and power of Appellate Court. But, this is not so for the purposes of Section 436-A of the Code. This is the reason why in Section 389 of the Code, the words "trial of the person", "are not used and instead the words, "pending any appeal by a convicted person" are employed for considering suspension of sentence of the convict and grant of bail to him.[Para No.23]

16 August 2020

Arbitrator can order to array necessary parties but can not close proceeding with permission to file fresh proceeding

After hearing counsel on both sides, we do not have any doubt in mind that the Arbitrator cannot be justified in closing the proceeding abruptly for the mere reason that the other employees whose names found place in the final report were not impleaded. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the reference was made to the Arbitration Court for the recovery of a whopping amount, nearly Rs.18 crores from the appellants and others, who had defalcated money while working in the employment of the Bank. It is shown that the contesting defendants had contended that the suit is bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. But, from the proceedings, it cannot be inferred whether, in the light of the pleadings, opportunity was afforded to the plaintiff Bank for impleading additional defendants and to amend the plaint. Even though it is a quasi-judicial proceedings, having regard to the scope and ambit of Section 70 of the Co-operative Societies Act, we are of the opinion that the said forum has all the powers and trappings of a civil court and any interpretation restricting the scope and ambit would not be in terms of advancement of justice.[Para No.7]

Arbitrator can order to array necessary parties but can not close proceeding with permission to file fresh proceeding
    Even when we are inclined to uphold the finding of the learned single Judge that Ext.P10 cannot stand judicial scrutiny, we are of the definite opinion that it was open to the Arbitrator to invoke the powers under Rule 10(2) of Order 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Though the plaintiff is the dominus litis, and has to decide who are the necessary parties to the suit, if the plaintiff does not implead all the necessary parties, it is open to the Court to add any person as party at any stage of the proceedings, if the person whose presence before the Court is necessary for an effective and complete adjudication of the issues involved in the suit. It is the settled proposition of law that a person may be a necessary party in a suit, namely, (a) if he ought to have been joined as a party to the suit and has not been so joined, and (b) if the suit cannot be decided without his presence. Apex Court has repeatedly held that the theory of dominus litis should not be overstretched in the matter of impleading of parties, because it is the duty of the Court to ensure that, if for deciding the real matter in dispute, a person is a necessary party, the said person is impleaded. In order to do complete justice between the parties the power available under sub-rule (2) of Rule 10 of Order 1 CPC shall be invoked by the Court.[Para No.8]

    It is trite that all powers which are not specifically denied by the statute or the statutory rules should be vouchsafed to a Tribunal that it may effectively exercise its judicial function. In this connection, it is apposite to extract the following paragraph from the decision reported in Ebrahim Ismail Kunju v. Phasila Beevi [1991 (1) KLT 861].
"5. The increasing importance of the Tribunals in the vast changing life of the community cannot be ignored by a modern court. A modern ostrich even in the distant deserts may not make such limited use of its eyes. Many valuable rights of the modern citizen are deeply involved with the adjudicator, processes of the Tribunals. Many areas hitherto occupied by courts, are now the domains of the Tribunals. A liberal approach towards their functioning and a larger view about the powers they need, are the requirements of the times. A Tribunal should be facilitated to do all that a court could do in similar situations; and much more than that. Greater speed and a total liberation from the tentacles of technicalities, give a better look and greater efficiency for effectively manned Tribunals. If there be no statutory prohibition, the Tribunal should therefore normally be in a position to ordain its affairs and modulate its procedures in such a manner as to best subserve the interest of the public, and in particular the litigant public."[Para No.11]

03 August 2020

Notice returned with endorsement 'house locked', 'shop closed', "addressee not available' is presumed to be dully served

It is clear from Section 27 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1972, that once notice is sent by registered post by correctly addressing to the drawer of the cheque, the service of notice is deemed to have been effected. The requirements under proviso (b) of Section 138 stands complied, if notice is sent in the prescribed manner. However, the drawer is at liberty to rebut this presumption.[Para No.13]

    It is well settled that interpretation of a Statute should be based on the object which the intended legislation sought to achieve.
“It is a recognized rule of interpretation of statutes that expressions used therein should ordinarily be understood in a sense in which they best harmonize with the object of the statute, and which effectuate the object of the Legislature. If an expression is susceptible of a narrow or technical meaning, as well as a popular meaning, the Court would be justifed in assuming that the Legislature used the expression in the sense which would carry out its object and reject that which renders the exercise of its power invalid"[Para No.14]
Notice returned with endorsement 'house locked', 'shop closed', "addressee not available' is presumed to be dully served
    This Court in catena of cases has held that when a notice is sent by registered post and is returned with postal endorsement “refused” or “not available in the house” or “house locked” or “shop closed” or “addressee not in station”, due service has to be presumed. Though in process of interpretation right of an honest lender cannot be defeated as has happened in this case. From the perusal of relevant sections it is clear that generally there is no bar under the N.I. Act to send a reminder notice to the drawer of the cheque and usually such notice cannot be construed as an admission of non-service of the first notice by the appellant as has happened in this case.[Para No.15]

19 July 2020

“account closed”, “payment stopped”, “referred to the drawer”, “signatures do not match”, “image is not found” attracts sec. 138 of N.I. Act

The above line of decisions leaves no room for holding that the two contingencies envisaged under Section 138 of the Act must be interpreted strictly or literally. We find ourselves in respectful agreement with the decision in NEPC Micon Ltd. (supra) that the expression “amount of money …………. is insufficient” appearing in Section 138 of the Act is a genus and dishonour for reasons such “as account closed”, “payment stopped”, “referred to the drawer” are only species of that genus. Just as dishonour of a cheque on the ground that the account has been closed is a dishonour falling in the first contingency referred to in Section 138, so also dishonour on the ground that the “signatures do not match” or that the “image is not found”, which too implies that the specimen signatures do not match the signatures on the cheque would constitute a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 of the Act. This Court has in the decisions referred to above taken note of situations and contingencies arising out of deliberate acts of omission or commission on the part of the drawers of the cheques which would inevitably result in the dishonour of the cheque issued by them. For instance this Court has held that if after issue of the cheque the drawer closes the account it must be presumed that the amount in the account was nil hence insufficient to meet the demand of the cheque. A similar result can be brought about by the drawer changing his specimen signature given to the bank or in the case of a company by the company changing the mandate of those authorised to sign the cheques on its behalf.

05 May 2020

Mere service of notice would not give rise to a cause of action

Cause of action' implies a right to sue. The material facts which are imperative for the suitor to allege and prove constitutes the cause of action. It has been interpreted to mean that every fact which would be necessary for the plaintiff to prove, if traversed, in order to support his right to the judgment of the Court. [Para No.20]

mere-notice-is-not-cause-of-action

   As cause of action is the bundle of facts to examine the issue of jurisdiction it is necessary that one of the interlinked fact must have occurred in a place where the case has been instituted. All necessary facts must form an integral part of the cause of action. The fact must have direct relevance in the lis involved. It is not that every fact pleaded can give rise to a cause of action so as to confer jurisdiction on the Court in whose territorial jurisdiction it has occurred.[Para No.21]

29 April 2020

The Court cannot go behind the language of the statute so as to add or subtract a word

court-not-to-go-behind-words-of-law


   The court cannot proceed with an assumption that the legislature enacting the statute has committed a mistake and where the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous, the court cannot go behind the language of the statute so as to add or subtract a word playing the role of a political reformer or of a wise counsel to the legislature. The court has to proceed on the footing that the legislature intended what it has said and even if there is some defect in the phraseology, etc., it is for others than the court to remedy that defect. The statute requires to be interpreted without doing any violence to the language used therein. The court cannot rewrite, recast or reframe the legislation for the reason that it has no power to legislate. [Para No.43] 


21 April 2020

Every procedure is permitted to the court for doing justice unless expressly prohibited

procedure-permitted-unless-prohibitedRules of procedure are handmaids of justice. Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives inherent powers to the court to do justice. That provision has to be interpreted to mean that every procedure is permitted to the court for doing justice unless expressly prohibited, and not that every procedure is prohibited unless expressly permitted. There is no express bar in filing an application for withdrawal of the withdrawal application.



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