High Court Asks Maharashtra To Serve Summons By Post To Reduce Pending Cases

Mumbai : In a move to bring down the huge pendency of cases of cheque bounce, the Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra Government to amend laws to provide for serving warrants and summons to accused and witnesses through registered post, in addition to the procedure followed by the police machinery.

“We are of the view that as and by way of a special drive, the Director General of Police should ensure that all pending summons and warrants are served expeditiously in the State of Maharashtra,” said a bench of Justices V M Kanade and Swapna Joshi in their recent order.

“We would like to recommend to the State Government, if it is possible, to amend the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and make an exception in respect of (cheque bouncing) cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act by making necessary amendment to permit service of summons either by Registered Post A.D, in addition to the service of summons through the police machinery,” the bench added.

“The State Government may consider the suggestion since it has been established that if the summonses are served promptly, the pendency of the cases will be reduced practically,” the bench said while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Vivek Vittal Mahamuni.

The petitioner made a grievance that warrants and summonses, which are issued by the Court, particularly in cases filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, are not served on time.

The high court had therefore given directions to the respondents earlier to create a machinery for the service of warrants and summonses to the accused. The report, however, is awaited.

Public Prosecutor J P Yagnik informed the court that a meeting of top officials of police department was held on June 23 this year on the issue wherein it was resolved to delegate the job of serving summons and writs to the postal authority, since police machinery is already over-burdened with other work.

The court then asked the state government to bring about amendment in laws to provide for serving summons by registered post The Judges noted that the High Court, in 2013-2014, had undertaken an exercise of finding out the stage at which bottle necks are created in cheque bouncing cases.

After all the statistical data were collected, it was noticed that almost 80 per cent of cases were pending at the stage of service of summons.

“We then gave directions to banks and financial institutions to send legal notice to the accused in such cases. In view of these directions, within two years, the pendency came down from 3,45,000 to 69,000 in Mumbai.

“This was because after the service of notice from the bank, most of the accused came forward and settled the disputes, and as a result, the pendency is decreased,” the bench observed.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on September 29 after the prosecutor asked time to collect data of pending cases.