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Offence u/s 138 NI Act shall be tried only by a court within whose local jurisdiction the payee or holder maintains the account in the branch of the bank: High Court of Delhi

Where a cheque is delivered for collection at any branch of the bank of the payee or holder in due course, then, the cheque shall be deemed to have been delivered to the branch of the bank in which the payee or holder in due course maintains the account and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by JUSTICE TALWANT SINGH in the case of RAMESH KUMAR UPPAL vs. M/S MATRA CHAYYA EXPORTS & ORS. [TR.P.(CRL.) 9/2022] on 15.03.2022.

The facts of the case are that the respondent availed friendly loan of Rs.50.00 lacs from petitioner and as a part discharge of his liability he had issued a cheque drawn on Yes Bank, Paschim Encalve, New Delhi. The petitioner deposited the said cheque in his bank account maintained with the Corporation Bank, Model Town, New Delhi for encashment. This cheque was returned dishonoured vide return memo. A legal notice was issued to the respondent, to which a false and frivolous reply was sent with a view to avoid the liability by the respondent.

The petitioner filed a complaint and it was observed by the trial court that it did not have the jurisdiction to try the complaint case as the ‘payee bank’ was situated in North District, hence the accused could not be summoned. The petitioner has filed this present petition under Section 407 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 seeking transfer of complaint case under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that Complaint Case titled as “Ramesh Kumar Uppal vs. Matra Chayya Exports & Ors. filed by the Petitioner under Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act shall be transferred from the court of Sh. Devanshu Sajlan, Learned Metropolitan Magistrate, West District, Tis Hazari Court, New Delhi to the competent court of Learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate North District Rohini Court, New Delhi as the trial court did not have the jurisdiction to try the complaint case because the ‘payee bank’ was situated in North District.

The Court held that it is evident that the present complaint ought to have been filed in the Court under whose jurisdiction the bank of the payee, i.e. where petitioner is situated. Therefore, North District may keep the complaint in his own Court or he may transfer it to the competent Magistrate for further action.

The Court observed that, “offence under section 138 shall be inquired into and tried only by a court within whose local jurisdiction if the cheque is delivered for collection through an account, the branch of the bank where the payee or holder in due course maintains the account or if the cheque is presented for payment by the payee or holder in due course, otherwise through an account, the branch of the drawee bank where the drawer maintains the account. Where a cheque is delivered for collection at any branch of the bank of the payee or holder in due course, then, the cheque shall be deemed to have been delivered to the branch of the bank in which the payee or holder in due course, as the case may be, maintains the account.”

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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