If signatures not disputed, it is to be presumed that cheque has been issued in discharge of debt or liability

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The High Court in a recent matter concerning S. 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act held that when the signatures on the cheque are not disputed, there is a presumption that it was issued in discharge of a debt or other liability, unless contrary is proved. The petition was filed under S. 482 CrPC for quashing the order of Judicial Magistrate and Additional sessions Judge in a complaint filed by respondent-complainant under Sections 138 and 141 of NI Act.

Learned counsel for the petitioners has argued that filing of the complaint is just to harass the petitioner. The petitioner was actually forced to issue the cheque due to unlawful conduct on the part of the respondent-complainant. The counsel for the petitioner went on to contend that the Magistrate had failed to appreciate the law on the point that the primary responsibility is on the complainant to make specific averments to make the accused criminally liable and also said that the Magistrate failed to fulfil the ingredients under S. 138 read with S. 141. He went on to say that as the cheque was issued under threat and undue influence, therefore, it couldn’t be enforced against the petitioner.

On carefully scrutinising the allegations of the petitioner, Hari Pal Verma, J. observed that the question as to whether the complainant got issued the cheque from the petitioner by exercising undue influence or it relates to some previous transaction between the parties, was a matter of trial and upheld the decision of the lower courts that unless the contrary is proved, there is a presumption under S. 139 that the cheque was issued in discharge of a debt or other liability (if the signatures on it are not disputed as in the instant case itself). [M/s Enprocon Enterprise Ltd v. M/s Apollo Fiege Integrated Solutions Pvt. Ltd., 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 1808, decided on 19.07.2017]

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