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Anu (Law Officer)     26 September 2012

Mistake in legal notice

Hi Experts, 

In one case i am from accused side , i was served with a legal notice for demand of Rs 5 lacs , but by mistake the complainant mentioned the year 2000 instead of 2006 in notice , he has proved all the documents related case for the year 2006 . My defence is that i never knew this person in year 2000 . when i received notice regard to year 2006 , i ignored . can i take the defence in final argument that i was served with false legal notice . in violation of section 138(b) , and section 138 does not applicable to me ,

If i can success pl give me some decided case .



 9 Replies

LAXMINARAYAN - Sr Advocate. ( solve problems in criminal cases. lawproblems@gmail.com)     27 September 2012

This is a valid point but few Judges in lower court take it seriously.

You must have moved fast and first since arguments does not carry much wait and most of the time ignored.

Even at this late stage you can move revision in sessions court or move HC that the lower court has no locus standi to try the case far want of notice.

Ashish Singla 098140 76600 (Cheque Victim's Lawyer. LUDHIANA (PB))     27 September 2012


You dont think that i should first opt to file a application u/s 258 CrPC to stop the current proceeding and acquitt my client for want of valid legal notice , because accused never took this notice seriously being complainant was not even known him in year 2000, notice recieved in 2006 . every thing and evidence produced in court till now is related after the the year 2005.   Rather complaint even admitted later on in cross that it was typing mistake , but this mistake was never ractified well in time during that notice was in force . If trial court will not listen me in this regard than i will go further for revision or 482 to next higher court. pl coment.

LAXMINARAYAN - Sr Advocate. ( solve problems in criminal cases. lawproblems@gmail.com)     28 September 2012

CRPC 258 is not applicable in summons complaints that is NI 138 cases.

The year mentioned wrong is typing mistake and can be condoned even by higher courts.

Most of the complainanats remian in over confidence for such minor issues which after the verdict is out no body will listen even at  SUPREME COURT level.

If you want real relief you must go in revision prior to final decison of the lower court.

v.lakshminarayanan (prop)     30 September 2012

dear members

i do not think that such revisions will be useful at this stage.

the trial court may take adverse inference of the failure to reply to the statutory notice.

and yes, some mistakes are condoned by courts.





Raja (XYZ)     09 October 2012

such mistake is normally allowed in criminal proceeding in lower courts to rectify

KISHAN PRATAP SINGH DEORA (Specialization- Criminal Matters 138 Negotiable Instruments Act Property Law Matrimonial Disputes Societies Trusts & NGOs Registration etc. )     10 October 2012

Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (henceforth referred as the Act) provides for conception of criminal proceedings against a person, whose cheque has been dishonoured, deeming it to be an act alike cheating. The section provides for service of a notice of demand of the amount, upon the drawer, so that in case of a default the same can be corrected and the necessary payment could be made by the drawer of the cheque. If the amount is not paid within stipulated time, then a complaint can be made on the basis of the aforesaid notice. The courts have interpreted the abovementioned act or offence as a technical offence along with the requirements of the legal notice in a technical manner, in spite of accepting the fact that the complainant is the victim in such a case.



The courts have observed such an instance as a technical error on the part of the drawer of the cheque because it is presumed that the drawer would have known, at the time of drawing the cheque, how much money he can draw. The severity of this error is increased on non-payment of the concerned amount, within 15 days of service of notice, and thereby becomes punishable. This shows that there exists only a presumption that there is an error which is rebutted at the end of fifteen days, if the amount is not paid.


It is for this reason that the notice is also scrutinized in a technical manner. Since it is required that notice should contain a demand therein, the demand is expected to be correctly written.

The dispute arises when there is a typographical error in the demand mentioned in the notice. In order to adjudicate such an instance, the principle lies in the fact that whether it should be dealt with, in an objective manner or the notice should be considered as a whole



Court's Perception


Bearing in mind the object of issuance of such notice, it should be held that the notices cannot be construed in a narrow technical way without examining the substance of the matter (Rajneesh Aggarwal v Amit J Bhalla, AIR 2001 SC 518; 2001 (1) SCALE 36). Though the courts have upheld the requirement of the demand in the notice to be correctly mentioned, they have made exceptions wherever they have found that the objective of the notice has been fulfilled.


The provision has been given a rather strict interpretation in Yankay Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Limited v The Citibank 2001 Cri LJ 4157 by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in which it held that the interpretation of the words “the said amount of money” refer to the words ‘payment of any amount of money’ occurring in the main section 138 i.e., the cheque amount. So the amount has to be made of the cheque amount. It is well settled principle of law that the notice has to be read as a whole. If no such demand is made the notice no doubt would fall short of its legal requirement. A different manner to look in such cases has been seen in Arun v G Sankara Narayanan MANU/TN/8329/2007 in which the court dismissed the petition of accused against a complaint in the notice of which the amounts of the cheques were mentioned correctly but the demand was mentioned wrongly. This was complimented by the fact that the accused had sent an acknowledgement of the cheques and mentioned the actual demand. In Kempanarasimhaiah alias Kemparaju v P. Rangaraju 2009 Cri LJ 1228, also, the Karnataka High Court chose to make an exception to the rule, laid in Yankay Drugs case, on the premise that the amount of only one cheque, out of four cheques, mentioned in notice had an error and the rest were correct. But, though the demand expressed in the notice was wrong, the complaint and affidavit to examination in chief, mentioned the amounts of the cheques and the demand correctly.

The context envisaged in Section 138 of the Act invites a liberal interpretation, as in above illustrations, for the person who has a statutory obligation to give notice because he is presumed to be the loser in the transaction and it is for his interest the very provision is made by the legislature [M/s Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd. v M/s Galaxy Traders & Agencies Ltd., AIR 2001 SC 676; (2001) 6 SCC 463]. The premise for service of notice is to give a chance to the drawer of the cheque to rectify his omission and that the demand in the notice has to be in relation to ‘said amount of money’ as described in the provision [Central Bank of India v M/s Saxons Farms & Ors, 1999 Cri LJ 4571]. The courts have moved away from the rule of strict and literal interpretation to the Heydon’s Rule of Interpretation i.e. interpretation which furthers the object and purpose of the statute. A division bench of the Kerala High Court held in Thomas VergheseP Jerome (1993) 76 Comp Cas 380, that when the scheme and object of the statute are likely to be defeated by strict interpretation, courts must endeavour to resort to that interpretation which furthers the object of the legislation. The most succinct statement on the Heydon’s Rule being the basis of interpretation is clearly discernible in NEPC Micon Ltd v Magma Leasing Ltd (1999) SCC (Cri) 524; AIR 1999 SC 1952, wherein the Supreme Court has held that what must tilt the balance is the purpose of the statute, its potential frustration and judicial avoidance of the mischief by a construction whereby the means of licensing meet the ends of ensuring pure and potent remedies for the people .The Court further held that even though s 138 is a penal statute, it is the duty of the court to interpret it consistently with the legislative intent and purpose so as to suppress the mischief and advance remedy. But, a word of prudence has also been given by the court in Shri Ishar Alloy Steels Ltd v Jayasuls NECO Ltd (2001) 105 Comp Cas 1, wherein the court has held that, ‘it has always to be kept in mind that s 138 of the Act creates an offence and the law relating to penal provisions has to be interpreted strictly, so that no one can ingeniously or insidiously or guilefully or strategically be prosecuted’.

Therefore, the purpose of the notice is primarily not merely to inform the defaulter that such an instance has happened but to inform him that which of his cheques or promissory notes have been dishonoured and it is required by him to do the needful. In this context, it is the Court that decides whether or not the message conveyed in the notice is enough for the defaulter to find out which transaction is in question. Therefore, for the purpose of serving the object of enactment of this Act, the Courts should condone typographical errors as a rule and not in abstract instances. But, this will be against the technicality of demand as mentioned earlier. In various judgments the court has observed, that the demand in the notice should be specific. Since the offence is technical, therefore a notice can also fail on the ground of technicality.

SANTOSHSINGH. (ADVOCATE sardarsena@gmail.com)     10 October 2012

Mr Deora has given in depth analysis.

Cheque bounce cases are lost or won on technicalities.

Mistakes can not be excused.

Mohan   18 October 2018

I had sent a legal notice in which the number of cheques and the amount of the cheques were mentioned correctly but the demand was mentioned wrongly.

what to do?


Sam Records   12 December 2023

Sir you can send any judgement of sec 138 relates to legal notice where complainant mention loan given by cash but in his evidence he says I have given the loan by cheque to accused. Do you any judgement in favor of accused.mistake in legal notice.

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