Recovery of fine for dishonour of cheque.

Recovery of fine.

Whether when compensation is ordered as payable for an offence committed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, and in default thereof, a jail sentence is prescribed and undergone, is compensation still recoverable?

The facts were that the complainant approached the Magistrate under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act in a transaction where the accused had borrowed a sum of Rs.2.75 lakh from the complainant. When the complainant demanded the amount, the accused issued a cheque for the said amount which was returned as dishonoured due to insufficiency of funds. The requisite demand notice was sent by the complainant to the accused followed by the complaint. Ultimately, the accused was found guilty of the offence under Section 138, and was convicted

Will undergoing imprisonment due to default in payment of fine will wipe out liability?

The deeming fiction of Section 431 Cr.P.C. extends not only to Section 421, but also to Section 64 of the Indian Penal Code. This being the case, Section 70 IPC, which is the last in the group of Sections dealing with sentence of imprisonment for non- payment of fine must also be included as applying directly to compensation under Section 357(3) as well. The position in law now becomes clear. The deeming provision in Section 431 will apply to Section 421(1) as well, despite the fact that the last part of the proviso to Section 421(1) makes a reference only to an order for payment of expenses or compensation out of a fine, which would necessarily refer only to Section 357(1) and not 357(3). Despite this being so, so long as compensation has been directed to be paid, albeit under Section 357(3), Section 431, Section 70 IPC and Section 421(1) proviso would make it clear that by a legal fiction, even though a default sentence has been suffered, yet, compensation would be recoverable in the manner provided under Section 421(1). This would, however, be without the necessity for recording any special reasons. This is because Section 421(1) proviso contains the disjunctive “or” following the recommendation of the Law Commission, that the proviso to old Section 386(1) should not be a bar to the issue of a warrant for levy of fine, even when a sentence of imprisonment for default has been fully undergone. The last part inserted into the proviso to Section 421(1) as a result of this recommendation of the Law Commission is a category by itself which applies to compensation payable out of a fine under Section 357(1) and, by applying the fiction contained in Section 431, to compensation payable under Section 357(3).

The object of the legal fiction created by Section 431 is to extend for the purpose of recovery of compensation until such recovery is completed – and this would necessarily take us not only to Section 421 of the Cr.P.C. but also to Section 70 of the Penal Code, a companion criminal statute.

[Source: Kumaran vs State of Kerala, Sup. Ct. on May 5, 2017]

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