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Court can award penalty along with compensation for not responding to summons: High Court of Delhi

When an accused does not respond to court summons or an undertaking which was filed and not obeyed to, the court can award penalty along with the chosen form of punishment to the accused. This was held In the case of Prahald Singh vs. State & Anr. [CRL.REV.P. 882/2018 & CRL.M.(BAIL) 1612/2018] in the High Court of Delhi by the Hon’ble Justice Subramonium Prasad.

This petition was filed to challenge the order of the Additional Judge wherein compensation of Rs. 1,75,000 along with simple imprisonment for three month was awarded to him. This judgement was made in response to a check bounce case filed against him. The facts were that the respondent had lent 1 lakh rupees to the petitioner and when the loan was repaid by cheque had ‘insufficient funds’. Initially, in the year 2019, the petitioner had sought to settle the matter by agreeing to pay the said amount to the respondent by way of four installments.  In addition to this, the petitioner also undertook to pay fine to the legal Services Authority within four weeks. However, even after an extension of 6 months, the petitioner has failed to pay the same.

The contention of the petitioner is that as per Section 138, of Negotiable Instruments Act, a legal notice was to be sent to his address. Even though a notice was sent, it was not received at his address and this should be enough to take away the liability from him. The lower court believed that the petitioner failed miserably to prove its defense and he was awarded compensation.

In this revision appeal, the counsel for the respondent states that Section 139 of N.I Act raises a presumption in favor of the holder and to rebut this presumption, both the contentions put forth by the petitioner are inadmissible. The first contention was that the cheque was given to another man and he had given it to respondent whereas the documents prove otherwise.  Another contention was that the bank statement of the petitioner does not display the loan of Rs. 1,00,000. However there is no evidence produced by the petitioner to lead this claim.

The court highlighted the point that the petitioner claims to not receiving the notice, but at the same time had received the summons and even appeared before the court when both the summons as wel as the notice was sent to the same address.  It referred to the case of C.C. Alavi Haji v. Palapetty Muhammed, (2007) 6 SCC 555 where it was held “A person who does not pay within 15 days of receipt of the summons from the court along with the copy of the complaint under Section 138 of the Act, cannot obviously contend that there was no proper service of notice as required under Section 138, by ignoring statutory presumption to the contrary under Section 27 of the GC Act and Section 114 of the Evidence Act…”

Takincourt  concluded the judgement saying “There is no perversity in the orders of the Courts below warranting interference by this Court under Section 397/401 Cr.P.C. The petitioner has abused the indulgence granted by this Court”. The revision petition stood dismissed.

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