The Hon'ble Supreme Court in case of K. Bhaskaran vs. Shankaran AIR 1999, SC 3762, dealt with the jurisdiction in cheque bounce cases for initiation of prosecution which could be any of the following :
1. Where cheque is drawn.
2. Where payment had to be made.
3. Where cheque is presented for payment
4. Where cheque is dishonoured. 5. Where notice is served upto drawer
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in Dashrathbhai Trikambhai Patel Vs. Hitesh Mahendrabhai Patel & Anr. in Criminal Appeal No. 1497 of 2022 vide order dated October 11, 2022 has summarised its findings below: (i) For the commission of an offence under Section 138, the cheque that is dishonoured must represent a legally enforceable debt on the date of maturity or presentation; (ii) If the drawer of the cheque pays a part or whole of the sum between the period when the cheque is drawn and when it is encashed upon maturity, then the legally enforceable debt on the date of maturity would not be the sum represented on the cheque; (iii) When a part or whole of the sum represented on the cheque is paid by the drawer of the cheque, it must be endorsed on the cheque as prescribed in Section 56 of the Act. The cheque endorsed with the payment made may be used to negotiate the balance, if any. If the cheque that is endorsed is dishonoured when it is sought to be encashed upon maturity, then the offence under Section 138 will stand attracted; (iv) The first respondent has made part-payments after the debt was incurred and before the cheque was encashed upon maturity. The sum of rupees twenty lakhs represented on the cheque was not the ‘legally enforceable debt’ on the date of maturity. Thus, the first respondent cannot be deemed to have committed an offence under Section 138 of the Act when the cheque was dishonoured for insufficient funds; and (v) The notice demanding the payment of the ‘said amount of money’ has been interpreted by judgments of this Court to mean the cheque amount. The conditions stipulated in the provisos to Section 138 need to be fulfilled in addition to the ingredients in the substantive part of Section 138. Since in this case, the first respondent has not committed an offence under Section 138, the validity of the form of the notice need not be decided.
138 Negotiable Insturments Act 1881 - Dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc., of funds in the account.—Where any cheque drawn by a person on an account maintained by him with a banker for payment of any amount of money to another person from out of that account for the discharge, in whole or in part, of any debt or other liability, is returned by the bank unpaid, either because of the amount of money standing to the credit of that account is insufficient to honour the cheque or that it exceeds the amount arranged to be paid from that account by an agreement made with that bank, such person shall be deemed to have committed an offence and shall, without prejudice to any other provision of this Act, be punished with imprisonment for 8 [a term which may be extended to two years’], or with fine which may extend to twice the amount of the cheque, or with both: Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply unless— (a) the cheque has been presented to the bank within a period of six months from the date on which it is drawn or within the period of its validity, whichever is earlier; (b) the payee or the holder in due course of the cheque, as the case may be, makes a demand for the payment of the said amount of money by giving a notice; in writing, to the drawer of the cheque, [within thirty days] of the receipt of information by him from the bank regarding the return of the cheque as unpaid; and (c) the drawer of such cheque fails to make the payment of the said amount of money to the payee or, as the case may be, to the holder in due course of the cheque, within fifteen days of the receipt of the said notice.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “debt of other liability” means a legally enforceable debt or other liability.