A bill for quick prosecution in cheque bounce cases and provide compensation to the complainant was passed by the Lok Sabha today.
The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by a voice vote, provides for allowing a court trying a cheque bounce offence to direct the drawer (person who writes the cheque) to pay interim compensation to the complainant.
This interim compensation, not exceeding 20 per cent, may be paid under certain circumstances, including where the drawer pleads not guilty of the accusation within 60 days of the trial court's order to pay the compensation.
Earlier while moving the bill for passage, Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said it will bring down ligitation and provide credibility to cheques and the banking system.
He said the bill will reduce inordinate delays in cheque bounce cases.
The bill seeks do away with "unnecessary" litigation in cheque dishonour cases. "The banks would be helped by these amendments," Shukla said urging members to support the measure.
The bill, which amends the 1881 Negotiable Instruments Act, says if the drawer is acquitted, the court may direct the payee to repay the amount paid as interim compensation with interest.
Opposing the bill, A Sampath (CPI-M) dubbed the bill as unconstitutional and demanded that it should be withdrawn. "It is a bill for the money launderers," he said.
Participating in the discussion, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor termed it as an important legislation and said there was a need to have a provision for "trial in absentia".
"It is a good bill but not sufficient and more should be added," the Congress leader said and urged the government to include fast-track courts exclusively meant for cheque bounce cases.
"This bill is grossly inadequate for the purpose you are trying to serve through this bill," he said.
Terming the bill as a good endeavour, Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) was of the view that the objective behind the legislation was that the victim should get justice as soon as possible.
"The endeavour is good but more endeavour has to be taken," he added.
Ganesh Singh (BJP) said the legislation will help the public and it was a welcome initiative of the government.
Making a point over his party's demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh, TDP MP Ravindra Babu said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given them a cheque (assurance to give special status to his state) but "it has bounced".