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Applicability Of S.148 NI Act Will Extend To Appeals Arising Out Of Complaint Cases Filed Prior To 2018 Amendment: Delhi High Court

[19 May 2022] The Delhi High Court has observed that the applicability of Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 will be extended to appeals arising out of complaint cases that have been filed prior to the amendment of 2018. Justice Chandra Dhari Singh was dealing with a batch of pleas seeking setting aside of order dated 5th February 2022 passed by Additional Sessions Judge, Saket Courts. Dealing with the question as to whether the amendment of 2018, introducing sec. 148 of the NI Act, is retrospective in nature or not, the Court was of the view that since the provision itself does not make any suggestion to question of extent applicability of the provision, it was pertinent to refer to the judgment of Supreme Court in Surender Singh Deswal case. The Court thus reiterated that relief under sec. 148 will be available to the complainant against the convict or appellant for such cases, where the complaint case pertains to a time prior to the amendment and introduction of sec. 148 of the NI Act, even though the appeal pertains to a time post the amendment. “‚Ķintention of the legislature is evident from a bare reading of the Statement. The purpose underlaid in the amendment of the Act is facilitation of speedy and effective disposal of matters initiated under the NI Act, specifically under Section 138. The second purpose is that the right to appeal is not misused at the expense of the complainant only to delay meeting the ends of justice. It has been observed that the convicts often obtain stay of order of sentence in the garb of filing an appeal and the proceedings in the appeal are kept pending for years and decades with no consequence and no relief for the complainant in any manner,” the Court said.