By this single judgment, I shall dispose of CRR Nos.4840 of 2015, 1681 to 1700, 1705 and 1706 of 2016 in which similar question of law has been raised.
The common facts of the case are that the complaint company which is having its office at Bathinda filed various criminal complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (for short, ‘the Act’) at Ludhiana Court, stating that the cheques issued by the accused company which is having its head office at Ludhiana, drawn on State Bank of India, Dholewal, G.T. Road, District Ludhiana, Punjab bounced. The complaint was filed in the Ludhiana Court, to the effect that in view of the judgment of Dashrath Rup Singh Rathore v. State of Maharashtra, 2014 (4) PLR 77, the complaint is being filed at Ludhiana as the cheque was drawn on State Bank of India, Industrial Finance Branch, Ludhiana.
The learned Magistrate vide impugned order, while noticing the provisions of Section 142(2) of the Act, inserted by Negotiable Instruments Act (Amendment) Ordinance 2015 since replaced by Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act No.26 of 2015) (in short, ‘the amended Act’), the jurisdiction is at the place where the payee or the holder in due course maintains the account. The present cheques were admittedly cross cheques. Therefore, the learned Magistrate ordered the transfer of the complaints to Bathinda Court. The said order has been impugned in the present revisions filed by the accused company.
I have heard learned counsel for the parties and have also carefully gone through the file.
It is not a denying fact that the cheques were issued from 20.6.2014 to 22.08.2014 and on accounts dishonouring, the complaints were filed at Ludhiana Court from 19.11.2014 to 28.01.2015, which is prior to 15.6.2015, when the amended Act came into force.
Learned counsel for the petitioner contends argued that the learned Magistrate erred in transferring the complaints to Bathinda Court on the basis of amended provisions of Section 142(2) of amended Act. The amended provisions of Section 142(2) and Section 142A are reproduced as under:-
142. Cognizance of offences.--
'(2) The offence under section 138 shall be inquired into and tried only by a court within whose local jurisdiction,-
(a) if the cheque is delivered for collection through an account, the branch of the bank where the payee or holder in due course, as the case may be, maintains the account, is situated; or
(b) 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, is situated.
Explanation.- For the purposes of clause (a), 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.'.
'142A. Validation for transfer of pending cases.--(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any judgment, decree, order or direction of any court, all cases transferred to the court having jurisdiction under sub-section (2) of section 142, as amended by the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, shall be deemed to have been transferred under this Act, as if that sub-section had been in force at all material times.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2) of section 142 or sub-section (1), where the payee or the holder in due course, as the case may be, has filed a complaint against the drawer of a cheque in the court having jurisdiction under sub-section (2) of section 142 or the case has been transferred to that court under subsection (1) and such complaint is pending in that court, all subsequent complaints arising out of section 138 against the same drawer shall be filed before the same court irrespective of whether those cheques were delivered for collection or presented for payment within the territorial jurisdiction of that court.
(3) If, on the date of the commencement of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015, more than one prosecution filed by the same payee or holder in due course, as the case may be, against the same drawer of cheques is pending before different courts, upon the said fact having been brought to the notice of the court, such court shall transfer the case to the court having jurisdiction under sub-section (2) of section 142, as amended by the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, before which the first case was filed and is pending, as if that sub-section had been in force at all material times. Undoubtedly, amended Act has been deemed to come into force from 15.6.2015.
Learned counsel for the petitioner has contended that since dishonouring of the cheques took place before the amendment came into force and even the complaints were filed before the amendment came into force, therefore, the complaints could not be transferred under Section 142A of the amended Act, as has been done by the learned Magistrate.
Learned counsel for the petitioner has referred to the authorities of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Padma Ben Banushali and another vs. Yogendra Rathore and others, 2006(2) RCR (Rent) 90 and Hardeep Singh vs. State of Punjab (SC) 2014(1) RCR (Criminal) 623 and has pressed that no word in a statute has to be construed as surplusage and no word can be rendered ineffective or purposeless. The Courts are required to carry out the legislative intent fully and completely. While construing a provision, full effect is to be given to the language used therein, giving reference to the context and other provisions of the Statute.
Further reference has also been made to the Constitution Bench authority in Commissioner of Income Tax (Central)-I, New Delhi vs. Vatika Township Private Limited, 2015(1) SCC 1, which pertains to the Income Tax Act and wherein the Constitution Bench discussed the general principles concerning the retrospectivity of the statute. It was observed as under:-
31. Of the various rules guiding how a legislation has to be interpreted, one established rule is that unless a contrary intention appears, a legislation is presumed not to be intended to have a retrospective operation. The idea behind the rule is that a current law should govern current activities. Law passed today cannot apply to the events of the past. If we do something today, we do it keeping in view the law of today and in force and not tomorrow’s backward adjustment of it. Our belief in the nature of the law is founded on the bed rock that every human being is entitled to arrange his affairs by relying on the existing law and should not find that his plans have been retrospectively upset. This principle of law is known as lex prospicit non respicit: law looks forward not backward. As was observed in Phillips vs. Eyre (1870) LR 6 QB 1, a retrospective legislation is contrary to the general principle that legislation by which the conduct of mankind is to be regulated when introduced for the first time to deal with future acts ought not to change the character of past transactions carried on upon the faith of the then existing law.
Stating so, the learned counsel for the petitioner has argued that the judgment in the case of Dashrath Rup Singh Rathore was passed on 1.8.2014, the present amended Act came into force on 15.6.2015. Therefore, the provisions of the amended Act were made retrospective w.e.f. 15.6.2015 only and not before that. Therefore, the said amendment cannot be applied to the present case to transfer the criminal complaint filed by the complainant to the Bathinda Court, where the account of the payee is situated.
On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent has referred to the authority of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Bridgestone India Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Inderpal Singh, 2016(1) RCR (Civil) 320. The perusal of said authority shows that in the said case, the cheque was drawn on Union Bank of India, Chandigarh and the cheque was presented at IDBI Bank at Indore, where the account of the payee was situated. The Apex Court, while noticing the judgment in the case of Dashrath Rup Singh Rathore (supra), and the amended Section 142(2) of amended Act, observed as under:-
13. Since cheque No.1950, in the sum of Rs.26,958/-, drawn on the Union Bank of India, Chandigarh, dated 02.05.2006, was presented for encashment at the IDBI Bank, Indore, which intimated its dishonor to the appellant on 04.08.2006, we are of the view that the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Indore, would have the territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proceedings initiated by the appellant under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, after the promulgation of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2015. The words '...as if that sub-section had been in force at all material times...' used with reference to Section 142(2), in Section 142A(1) gives retrospectivity to the provision.
There is no doubt that the amended Act came into operation from 15.6.2015. Now the law point will arise as to whether on the basis of the jurisdiction defined in amended Section 142(2), the Court could transfer the pending case to a place where account of the payee is situated?
If language of Section 142A is examined, its heading is read as ‘Validation for transfer of pending cases’. It goes to show that it is applicable to the pending cases. It starts with non-obstante clause, stating that notwithstanding anything contained in Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any judgment, decree, order or direction of any Court, 'all cases transferred to the Court having jurisdiction under sub-section (2) of Section 142', as amended by the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, shall be deemed to have been transferred under this Act, as if that subsection had been in force at all material times. The language of Section makes it clear that it applies to the cases transferred by the Court to a Court having jurisdiction as defined in sub-section (2) of Section 142 and that the section shall be deemed to be in force ‘at all material times’.
Here the time limit is not given. It applies to case transferred after coming into force the amendment to a Court having jurisdiction under Section 142(2) of the amended Act. The intention of the legislature is apparent. The amendment was made to overcome the situation arising out of the judgment in the case of Dashrath Rup Singh Rathore (supra). Therefore, in order to save the cases transferred to the Court, where the payee’s account is maintained, sub-section 142A was inserted. It does not limit its application to the cases pending after 15.6.2015 from which date the amendment came into force.
Learned counsel for the petitioner has also referred to Sections 5 and 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, which are reproduced as under:-
5. Coming into operation of enactments - (1) Where any Central Act is not expressed to come into operation on particular day, then it shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the assent,-
(a) In the case of a Central Act made before the commencement of the Constitution, of the Governor- General, and
(b) in the case of an Act of Parliament, of the President.
(3) Unless the contrary is expressed, a [Central Act] or Regulation shall be construed as coming into operation immediately on the expiration of the day preceding its commencement.
6. Effect of repeal. Where this Act, or any [Central Act] or Regulation made after the commencement of this Act, repeals any enactment hitherto made or hereafter to be made, then, unless a different intention appears, the repeal shall not -
(a) revive anything not in force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect; or
(b) affect the previous operation of any enactment so repealed or anything duly done or suffered thereunder; or
(c) affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any enactment so repealed; or
(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against any enactment so repealed; or
(e) affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, li
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ability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid, and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed as if the repealing Act or Regulation had not been passed. In the present case, the date from which the amended Act is in force is specifically mentioned. Section 6 of General Clauses Act, 1897 will not attract in the present case as a specific Section 142A was inserted by the legislature with an intention to protect the cases already transferred to a Court having jurisdiction under Section 142(2) of the amended Act. Section 142A does not mean that it applies only to the cases which have been transferred to the Court having jurisdiction under Section 142(2) of the amended Act after coming force of the amendment. The language of the Act, as discussed above, clearly shows that it applies to the cases already transferred even before the amendment or after the amendment, as if this Act was in operation ‘ at all the material times’. It being so, I do not find any illegality or infirmity in the impugned order of the learned Magistrate, whereby he transferred the complaints to the Bathinda Court, where the account of the payee is situated. Consequently, all the revisions are dismissed. A copy of the order be placed on the connected files.