Rathish Babu Unnikrishnan v. State (NCT of Delhi).
Date of Order:
26th April, 2022
Hon'ble Justice K.M. Joseph
Hon'ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy
Petitioner: Rathish Babu Unnikrishnan
Respondent: State (NCT of Delhi).
- The court held that the appellant must be given a fair chance to present his evidence in an open courtroom before an impartial judge who can objectively evaluate the evidence and determine the reality of the case in order to counter the legal presumption against him.
Section 138 of NI Act- Dishonour of cheque
Section 139 of NI Act- Presumption in favour of holder
- The complainant invested a significant amount in the appellant's business through transactions between the parties.
- Then a dispute arose amongst them, but they came to an agreement that the invested funds would be returned to the complainant and the shares assigned to the complainant would be transferred to the appellant in proportion. With this understanding, the appellant turned over the four cheques that were a part of the criminal complaint. One of those cheques was dishonoured by the bank with the endorsement "fund insufficient" when the complaint submitted it.
- In addition, the complaint gave the appellant notice that the payment was past due.
- He then filed the complaint in accordance with Section 138 of the N.I. Act.
The issue raised is whether summons and trial notice should have been quashed on the basis of factual defences.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The main argument made by the appellant is that the questioned cheque was not written to pay off a "legally recoverable debt."
- They also brought up the complainant's duty to transfer the relevant shares as a point of contention.
- The appellant makes the argument on his behalf that the checks in question were only written as "security" and not to pay off any "legally recoverable debt."
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The complainant argues that when the cheque are issued and the signatures on them are acknowledged, a presumption of a legally enforceable obligation will exist in favor of the cheque's holder. In this case, it is up to the accused to present the appropriate proof to the court in order to refute the legal presumption.
- The court held that scuttling the criminal procedure at the pretrial phase can have serious and irreversible repercussions.
- Quashing preliminary procedures will result in finality before the parties have had a chance to present evidence, and the effect is that the proper venue, i.e., the trial Court, is disqualified from considering the relevant evidence.
- If this is permitted, the accused can receive an unfair advantage in the legal system. The balance of convenience at this point is in favor of the complainant due to the legal presumption and the fact that the accused will have a fair chance to present defense evidence during the trial to disprove the presumption if the cheque and the signature are not contested by the appellant.
- The Supreme court held that the High Court correctly rejected relief for the accused in the quashing case, and the assailed judgment was issued using the right legal standards.
- The appellant must also be given a fair chance to present his evidence in an open courtroom before an impartial judge who can objectively evaluate the evidence and determine the reality of the case in order to counter the legal presumption against him.
In accordance with criminal law, charges against an accused individual may be dropped through the process known as "quashing of criminal proceedings." This is typically done when the charges are found to be baseless or frivolous, or when there is not enough evidence to convict the defendant. Criminal procedures can be quashed by stopping the already-in-motion legal system. This is typically done prior to the filing of the chargesheet, following the submission of the First Information Report (FIR). Sections 320 of the Indian Penal Code and 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure give the high court the authority to revoke a FIR.