Cheque bounce cases should be closed on recovery of claimed money, advises appointed Amicus Curiae to SC

A Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae has recommended closure of proceedings in all cheque bounce cases if the accused is willing to deposit the claimed money with fine or interest even if the complainant is objecting to the settlement.

The amicus curiae is a lawyer appointed by the court to assist it in deciding a particular case. Advocate Rishi Malhotra was appointed so by the Bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit on July 31 for deciding how to regulate the court proceedings for an offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

Pointing out that nearly 60 lakh cheque bounce cases are clogging the criminal justice system in India, Malhotra has told the Court in his report and these constitute one-fourth of nearly 2.6 crore cases pending in various lower courts across the country and it could bring a big relief to the litigants of other cases if the Apex Court puts an end to the pending backlog of the cheque bounce cases.

The Bench had asked him to study whether the courts are “powerless” to close the case in the event the complainant refuses to accept the settlement even if the accused is ready for it. Though the issue before the court is limited to the cheque bounce cases, it observed that its ruling may also impact a number of other similarly placed cases where the litigants keep fighting and refuse to withdraw or end the disputes.

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