SC on Rebuttal by Accused against Presumption in Cheque Bounce Cases


July 03, 2018

Case name: Kishan Rao v. Shankargouda

Date of Judgment: July 02, 2018

In this recent case, the Division Bench of Supreme Court has deliberated on two legal propositions. Firstly, High Court’s scope of revisional jurisdiction and secondly, presumption in favour of holder of cheque under Section 139 of NI Act.

In the case, the Appellant challenged High Court’s order, whereby the Court while exercising revisional jurisdiction had set aside the order of conviction against the Respondent under Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act.

During trial of the case, the Appellant examined witnesses as well as produced documentary evidence to prove the Respondent’s offence u/Section 138 of NI Act. However, the respondent did not produce any oral or documentary evidence in the case. The Trial Court drew presumption under Section 139 of the Act, 1881 against the accused. Accused failed to rebut the presumption by leading any evidence on his behalf. Hence, the Trial Court convicted the Respondent u/Section 138 of NI Act.

Aggrieved by Trial Court’s order the Respondent filed Criminal Revision in the High Court. The High Court by the impugned judgment has allowed the revision by setting aside the conviction order. The High Court held that the accused has been successful in creating doubt in the mind of the Court with regard to the existence of the debt or liability. Aggrieved by the judgment of High Court, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court.

Bench’s Verdict

The Supreme Court in the case ruled in favour of the Appellant and set aside High Court’s order. The Apex Court in the case deliberated on two essential points, firstly, High Court’s scope of revisional jurisdiction and secondly, presumption in favour of holder of cheque under Section 139 of NI Act.

Scope of Revisional Jurisdiction of High Court- That the High Court in exercise of revisional jurisdiction shall not interfere with the order of the Magistrate unless it is perverse or wholly unreasonable or there is non-consideration of any relevant material, the order cannot be set aside merely on the ground that another view is possible.

With reference to the facts of the present case, the Court observed that in the instant case also conviction of the accused was recorded, the High Court set aside the order of conviction by substituting its own view. That the High Court did not returned any finding that order of conviction based on evidence on record suffers from any perversity or based on no material or there is other valid ground for exercise of revisional jurisdiction.

Presumption u/ Section 139 of NI Act– While referring to the case of Kumar Exports vs. Sharma Carpets[1], the Supreme Court held that the accused may adduce evidence to rebut the presumption, but mere denial regarding existence of debt shall not serve any purpose.

With reference to the facts of the present case, the Court noted that the trial court as well as the Appellate Court having found that cheque contained the signatures of the accused and it was given to the appellant to present in the Bank of the presumption under Section 139 was rightly raised which was not rebutted by the accused. The accused had not led any evidence to rebut the aforesaid presumption.

It was also stated that in the event the accused is able to raise a probable defence which creates doubt with regard to the existence of a debt or liability, the presumption may fail[2].

In view of aforesaid findings, the Supreme Court set aside High Court’s order in the case.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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Dishonour of Cheque – Section 138 of the Negotiable instruments Act

Landmark Supreme Court Judgment on Sec 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act

Notice of Dishonor of Cheque: Law and Important Judgments

[1] 2009 (2) SCC 513

[2] Rangappa vs. Sri Mohan, 2010 (11) SCC 441.