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27 July, 2018

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Lok Sabha passes Negotiable Instruments Act amendment to cut litigation over bounced cheques

Lok Sabha passes Negotiable Instruments Act amendment to cut litigation over bounced cheques

The Lok Sabha, on 23rd July, Monday, decided to pass the bill for the Negotiable Instruments Act (amended). This was done in a move to reduce the number of cheque dishonor cases. Cheques can be dishonored when there is not enough money in our bank account to pay the concerned party. This leads to a cheque dishonor or what we call as 'bouncing' of cheques. The bill was introduced in January 2018. 

The aim of the bill

Sometimes the people who draw cheques might be unwilling to pay the amount to the concerned party and they adopt various tactics to delay the payment. The main aim of this bill is not to allow such things to happen. If it becomes a law, then it can avoid people filing cases and stay orders in order to delay payment.

New provisions
This bill also introduces new provisions whereby a person who draws a dishonored cheque to pay compensation to the opposite party because of the delay that they caused in this process. The charges will amount up to 20% of the total amount drawn on the cheque.  The interim compensation is to be paid within 60 days of the trial court’s order to pay such a compensation. If the drawer is acquitted, the court might forward the payee to pay the compensation charges with interest.

Why all this change?
This amendment was brought about after the public, including many traders, complained to the government about how the cheque dishonor cases were still pending. The Act is amended with a view to abolishing all the unnecessary time delay that is associated with clearing the cases of dishonored cheques. It would assure that the parties receive their payment and none of any frivolous cases or complaints would be taken up. 

What after this?
This amendment will safeguard the interests of the payees and also it will make banks and other financial institutions to lend money to the productive sectors of the economy.

The different responses
The Minister of State for Finance, Pratap Shukla said that it would bring more credibility to the banking system. He also mentioned in a statement that there was 16 lakh of such dishonor cases still pending in the subordinate courts and some in the higher courts too.
Congress leader, Shashi Tharoor, who participated in the discussion said that the bill was good but not sufficient enough. He urged the government to bring in the fast-track courts for dealing with such cheque dishonor cases. Fast-track courts are mainly deal with issues that need quick attention and complete the cases within a very short span of time instead of lengthy procedures. Apart from this, he also quoted other countries’ policies on the cheque dishonor case. He stated that in France that person would be barred from issuing a cheque for five and in the USA there would be more penalties if that person is convicted for the second time. He said that India must also have such strict policies towards cheque dishonor cases.

Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said in a statement that it was a good endeavor, but the question would be that when a complaint is lodged whether a trial would take place or not. He also stated that the sufferers would mostly be the middle and the lower-middle classes. Moreover, he said that there was no stipulated time within which the trial would be completed. He urged the government to make a provision to lodge a complaint with the respective police station. They are better at catching the wrong-doers, according to him.

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