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Home / News / India /  Bank employees' union seeks fixing limits for cheque bounce

NEW DELHI : The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) has suggested the finance ministry to not decriminalise bouncing of cheques under the Negotiable Instruments Act but fix financial limits for attracting criminal provisions.

"The Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, was amended to make the return of cheques without sufficient balance in the accounts as a criminal offence as many of the offenders have been escaping scot-free and cheating the public, companies, banks etc. Hence, Section 138 and Sec 143(1) were introduced to make them accountable, responsible and punishable under criminal law," AIBEA General Secretary C. H.Venkatachalam said.

The union said if mens rea or mala fide and criminal intent is an important criteria, then willful bank loan default should be made a serious criminal offence, which is hitherto being treated and tried under the civil procedure code.

Hence, dilution of these sections would only facilitate increase in such acts with criminal and motivated intentions.

"However, for individuals and companies, the limit for which it would attract criminal prosecution shall be fixed. For individuals, if the returned cheque amount is one lakh or more shall be fixed. In case of companies, if the returned cheque is more than 10 lakh, it shall be tried under the criminal procedure code. Therefore, Section 138 and Section 143 (1) of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, shall be modified to the above extent," AIBEA said.

The Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance while calling for views of the stakeholders on the penal provisions of various laws listed by it reasoned that decriminalisation of minor offences is one of the thrust areas of the government.

The risk of imprisonment for actions or omissions that aren't necessarily fraudulent or the outcome of mala fide intent is a big hurdle in attracting investments, it said.

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