Don’t entirely decriminalise cheque bounce offences, AIBEA tells Finance Ministry

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 15, 2020

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‘Set limits beyond which such offences should attract criminal prosecution’

The All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) has suggested threshold limits be fixed for cheque bounce cases to attract criminal prosecutions. It is opposed to the government’s proposal to do away with the current practice of treating cheque bounce as a “criminal offence” and making it a civil offence.

For individuals, if the returned cheque amount is ₹1 lakh or more, then it should be treated as a criminal offence, the AIBEA General Secretary CH Venkatachalam has suggested in a letter to the Department of Financial Services Secretary Debasish Panda.

AIBEA — which represents nearly half a million bank employees — has also suggested that in case of companies, if the returned cheque is more than ₹10 lakh, it should be tried under the Criminal Procedure Code.

As per section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, the person issuing a cheque that has bounced can be imprisoned up to two years or fined or both. AIBEA has said that any dilution of these provisions (section 138 and 143(1) of Negotiable Instruments Act 1881) would only facilitate increase in such acts with criminal and motivated intentions

The government had on June 8 sought comments and suggestions on its proposals to amend various Acts including the Negotiable Instruments Act (Sec 138 of NIA for cheque bounce) with a view to decriminalise some of the offences to improve business sentiments and unclog court proceedings.

Mixed reactions

The Centre’s proposal to decriminalise the offence of cheque bounce and make it a civil offence has received mixed reactions. While big businesses are hailing the proposal, stating that it would help improve the ease of doing business, consumer organisations are not happy with the proposed move.

Small traders and lawyers too are not in favour of the proposal as it could lead to rise in the number of dud cheques in the system.

Published on June 15, 2020

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