Suo motu case on Cheque Bouncing: Constitution Bench holds that Section 258 CrPC does not apply to proceedings under Section 138

The Supreme Court ruled today that Section 258 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which gives magistrates the power to halt criminal proceedings, does not extend to cases involving cheque bouncing under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

In a suo motu case on expeditious disposal of cheque bouncing cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Constitution Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, and Ravindra Bhat issued an order to that effect.

 

The Code Of Criminal Procedure, Section 258, was enacted in 1973.

 

In certain situations, the power to stop proceedings:

A Magistrate of the First Class or, with the prior permission of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, any other Judicial Magistrate can, for reasons to be documented by him, stop the proceedings at any stage without pronouncing any judgement in any summons case instituted otherwise than upon complaint, and where such stoppage of proceedings is made after the evidence of the principal witnesses has been heard.

The Court issued the following directives:

The High Courts have been instructed to give practise directives to magistrates on the conversion of a summary trial into a summons trial.

Before issuing summons to an accused who lives outside the court’s territorial jurisdiction, magistrates must conduct an investigation.

The NI Act should be amended to allow for a single trial against a person convicted of multiple crimes.

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