Conviction-application for compounding of offence

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
SUBJECT : NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS ACT, 1881
Date of decision: 7th January, 2013
CRL. REV. P. 33/2012

BHIM SAIN TANEJA ….. Petitioner
Through: Mr. Prem Kumar Advocate with Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Adv. &
Mr. Ashish Sharma, Adv.

versus

STATE (NCT OF DELHI) & ANR. ….. Respondents
Through: Ms. Rajdipa Behura, APP for the State.
Mr. Neeraj Gupta, Adv. with Ms. Meenu Chauhan, Adv. for the
Complainant along with Complainant in person.

CORAM:

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE G.P.MITTAL

J U D G M E N T

G. P. MITTAL, J. (ORAL)

CRL. REV. P. 33/2012 and Crl.MA 4/2013

1. This Revision Petition is directed against a judgment dated 09.01.2012
passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) whereby the Appeal
against the conviction and sentence of simple imprisonment for a period of
two years and to pay compensation of `54 lacs and in default of payment of
compensation, to undergo further simple imprisonment for a period of 180
days imposed by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) in Complaint
Case under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (the N.I.
Act) was dismissed.

2. During pendency of this Revision Petition, a Criminal Application No.
4/2013 was jointly moved by the Petitioner and Respondent No.2 stating that the matter has been compromised and since the offence under Section 138 of
the N.I.Act is compoundable, the Petitioner is entitled to be acquitted.

3. While dealing with the compounding of offence under Section 138 of the
N.I. Act, a three Judge Bench decision of the Supreme Court in Damodar S.
Prabhu v. Sayed Babalal H. (2010) 5 SCC 663 laid down certain guidelines
for imposition of costs payable to the Legal Services Authority. It was
stated that if the application for compounding of the offence is made at the
first or the second hearing of the case, the compounding may be allowed
without imposing any costs on the accused. Thereafter, the costs to be
imposed was to vary between 10% to 20% depending upon the stage at
which the application for compounding was moved by the accused. Para 21
of the report is extracted hereunder:-
“21. With regard to the progression of litigation in cheque bouncing cases,
the learned Attorney General has urged this Court to frame guidelines for a
graded scheme of imposing costs on parties who unduly delay compounding
of the offence. It was submitted that the requirement of deposit of the costs
will act as a deterrent for delayed composition, since at present, free and
easy compounding of offences at any stage, however belated, gives an
incentive to the drawer of the cheque to delay settling the cases for years. An
application for compounding made after several years not only results in the
system being burdened but the complainant is also deprived of effective
justice. In view of this submission, we direct that the following guidelines be
followed:

THE GUIDELINES

(i) In the circumstances, it is proposed as follows:

(a) That directions can be given that the writ of summons be suitably
modified making it clear to the accused that he could make an application
for compounding of the offences at the first or second hearing of the case
and that if such an application is made, compounding may be allowed by the
court without imposing any costs on the accused.

(b) If the accused does not make an application for compounding as
aforesaid, then if an application for compounding is made before the
Magistrate at a subsequent stage, compounding can be allowed subject to the
condition that the accused will be required to pay 10% of the cheque amount to be deposited as a condition for compounding with the Legal Services
Authority, or such authority as the court deems fit.

(c) Similarly, if the application for compounding is made before the Sessions
Court or a High Court in revision or appeal, such compounding may be
allowed on the condition that the accused pays 15% of the cheque amount by
way of costs.

(d) Finally, if the application for compounding is made before the Supreme
Court, the figure would increase to 20% of the cheque amount.”

4. The instant case falls within Clause (c) of the aforementioned guidelines.
The amount of the cheque in this case is `27 lacs. The Petitioner would be
liable to pay the costs to the extent of 15% of the cheque amount, that is,
`4,05,000/-.

5. Thus, in terms of the compromise and compounding of the offence, the
Petitioner is acquitted of the charges, subject to deposit of `4,05,000/- as
costs with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee within eight
weeks and filing a receipt with the Registrar General of this Court within
two weeks thereafter.

6. The Petition is disposed of in above terms.

7. Pending Applications also stand disposed of.

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