i) An offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881
is committed no sooner a cheque drawn by the accused on an account being
maintained by him in a bank for discharge of debt/liability is returned
unpaid for insufficiency of funds or for the reason that the amount exceeds
the arrangement made with the bank.
(ii) Cognizance of any such offence is however forbidden under Section 142
of the Act except upon a complaint in writing made by the payee or holder
of the cheque in due course within a period of one month from the date the
cause of action accrues to such payee or holder under clause (c) of proviso
to Section 138.
(iii) The cause of action to file a complaint accrues to a
complainant/payee/holder of a cheque in due course if
(a) the dishonoured cheque is presented to the drawee bank within a
period of six months from the date of its issue.
(b) If the complainant has demanded payment of cheque amount within thirty
days of receipt of information by him from the bank regarding the dishonour
of the cheque and
(c) If the drawer has failed to pay the cheque amount within fifteen days
of receipt of such notice.
(iv) The facts constituting cause of action do not constitute the
ingredients of the offence under Section 138 of the Act.
(v) The proviso to Section 138 simply postpones/defers institution of
criminal proceedings and taking of cognizance by the Court till such time
cause of action in terms of clause (c) of proviso accrues to the
(vi) Once the cause of action accrues to the complainant, the jurisdiction
of the Court to try the case will be determined by reference to the place
where the cheque is dishonoured.
(vii) The general rule stipulated under Section 177 of Cr.P.C applies to
cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Prosecution in
such cases can, therefore, be launched against the drawer of the cheque
only before the Court within whose jurisdiction the dishonour takes place
except in situations where the offence of dishonour of the cheque
punishable under Section 138 is committed along with other offences in a
single transaction within the meaning of Section 220(1) read with Section
184 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or is covered by the provisions of
Section 182(1) read with Sections 184 and 220 thereof.