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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cheque bounce case – Discharge petition stating that the cheque was drawn on 31-12-2005 but the cheque was presented on 30-6-2006 beyond 6 months – not valid – Apex court held that the day 31-12-2005 is to be excluded – so the limitation starts from 1-1-2006 from there 6 months comes to 30-06-2006 is to be included and the day on 30-06-2006 – is with in 6 months – not barred by limitation = RAMESHCHANDRA AMBALAL JOSHI ….Appellant - VERSUS-THE STATE OF GUJARAT AND ANR. ….RESPONDENTS = 2014 ( Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41233

    Cheque bounce case – Discharge petition stating that the cheque was drawn on 31-12-2005 but the cheque was presented on 30-6-2006 beyond 6 months – not valid – Apex court held that the day 31-12-2005 is to be excluded – so the limitation starts from 1-1-2006  from there  6 months comes to 30-06-2006 is to be included and the day on 30-06-2006 – is with in 6 months – not barred by limitation  = 

An application for discharge was filed by the  petitioner  before  the
trial court inter alia contending that as a period of six months had  lapsed
between the date of drawl of the cheque on 31st of December,  2005  and  its
presentation by the complainant on 30th  of  June,  2006  for  payment,  the
petitioner cannot be prosecuted.  The prayer of the petitioner was  rejected
by the trial court on its finding that the provisions of discharge were  not
applicable to the present proceeding, they being in the  nature  of  summons
trial. =
“143. Calendar month running from arbitrary date. When  the  period
        prescribed is a calendar month running from any arbitrary date  the
        period expires with the day in  the  succeeding  month  immediately
        preceding the day corresponding to the date upon which  the  period
        starts; save that, if the period starts at the end  of  a  calendar
        month which contains more days than the next succeeding month,  the
        period expires at the end of the latter month.”

      Drawing a conclusion from the above mentioned authorities, we  are  of
the opinion  that  the  use  of  word  “from”  in  Section  138(a)  requires
exclusion of the first day on which the cheque was drawn  and  inclusion  of  the last day within which such act needs to be done.  
In  other  words,  six
months would expire one day prior to the date  in  the  corresponding  month
and in case no such day falls,  the  last  day  of  the  immediate  previous
month.
Hence, for all purposes, the date on  which  the  cheque  was  drawn,
i.e., 31.12.2005 will be excluded and the  period  of  six  months  will  be
reckoned from  the  next  day  i.e.  from  1.1.2006;  meaning  thereby  that
according to the British calendar, the period of six months will  expire  at
the end of the 30th day of June, 2006.
Since the  cheque  was  presented  on
30.6.2006, we are of the view  that  it  was  presented  within  the  period
prescribed.

      Viewed from  any  angle,  the  prosecution  is  not  time  barred  and
therefore, cannot be scuttled at this stage on this ground.  As  the  matter
is pending since long, the learned Magistrate in seisin of the  trial  shall
make endeavour to conclude it within six months from the date the  appellant
next appears in the case. We direct  the  appellant  to  appear  before  the
trial Judge on 3rd of March, 2014 and no notice is to be issued to  him  for
his appearance.

      In the result, we do not find any  merit  in  the  appeal  and  it  is
dismissed accordingly.
2014 ( Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41233  
CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR

                                                              REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 434  OF 2014
(@ SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION(CRL.)No. 7595 of 2011)

RAMESHCHANDRA AMBALAL JOSHI       ….APPELLANT


                             VERSUS


THE STATE OF GUJARAT AND ANR.        ….RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T


CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, J.

       According  to  the  complainant-respondent    No.  2,  the   accused-
petitioner, Rameshchandra Ambalal Joshi was his  friend,  who  had  taken  a
loan of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one  lac  only)  from  the  complainant.   The
petitioner issued a cheque dated 31st of December,  2005  towards  repayment
of the loan.  The cheque presented for payment by the  complainant  on  30th
of June, 2006 was dishonoured on the ground of  insufficiency  of  funds  on
the same day.  A registered notice dated 25th of July, 2006  was  then  sent
by the complainant to which the petitioner replied.   The  complainant  then
filed Criminal Case No. 2146 of 2006 on  5th  of  September,  2006  alleging
commission of offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable  Instruments  Act,
1881 (hereinafter referred to  as  ‘the  Act’)  in  the  Court  of  Judicial
Magistrate, First Class, Borsad, who took  cognizance  of  the  offence  and
issued summons to the petitioner.

      An application for discharge was filed by the  petitioner  before  the
trial court inter alia contending that as a period of six months had  lapsed
between the date of drawl of the cheque on 31st of December,  2005  and  its
presentation by the complainant on 30th  of  June,  2006  for  payment,  the
petitioner cannot be prosecuted.  The prayer of the petitioner was  rejected
by the trial court on its finding that the provisions of discharge were  not
applicable to the present proceeding, they being in the  nature  of  summons
trial.

      A criminal revision application against the aforesaid order, filed  by
the petitioner before the Court of Sessions, Anand was rejected by an  order
dated 5th of May, 2009, which the petitioner assailed in  a  petition  filed
under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the  High  Court.
The High Court by  its  order  dated  20th  of  August,  2010  rejected  the
application of the petitioner, observing as under:

        “7. Though the submission has been made by the learned counsel, Mr.
        Hakim raising the contention with regard to  the  limitation,  bare
        perusal  of  the  provisions  of  Section  138  of  the  Negotiable
        Instrument Act, would make it  clear  that  what  law  provides  is
        presentation within a period of six months,  meaning  thereby,  the
        Legislature has provided  the  period  of  six  months  by  way  of
        limitation.  It is also clear that each month  may  not  have  same
        number of days and, therefore, wisely what  has  been  provided  in
        terms of months and not exact date or days,  meaning  thereby,  180
        days.  Therefore, cheque  drawn  on  the  last  date  of  month  of
        December would remain valid for a period  of  six  months  and  the
        period of six months would expire after the last date of June  i.e.
        30th June, 2006.  Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of  the
        case, as the cheque has already been presented on 30th June,  2006,
        it cannot be said that it is barred by limitation.  Therefore,  the
        submission made by the learned counsel,  Hakim  cannot  be  readily
        accepted.”




      It is against this  order  that  the  petitioner  has  preferred  this
special leave petition.

      Leave granted.

     Mr. Huzefa Ahmadi,  learned  senior  counsel  draws  our  attention  to
proviso (a) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments  Act  and  contends
that to attract its mischief the cheque is required to be presented  in  the
Bank within six months from the date of its drawl.  Otherwise,  Section  138
of the Act would not apply.  Section 138 of the Act, which is  relevant  for
our purpose reads as follows:


        “138. Dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc., of funds in  the
        account.- Where  any  cheque  drawn  by  a  person  on  an  account
        maintained by him with a banker for payment of any amount of  money
        to another person from out of that account for  the  discharge,  in
        whole or in part, of any debt or other liability,  is  returned  by
        the bank unpaid, either because of the amount of money standing  to
        the credit of that account is insufficient to honour the cheque  or
        that it exceeds the amount arranged to be paid from that account by
        an agreement made with that bank, such person shall  be  deemed  to
        have committed an offence and shall, without prejudice to any other
        provisions of this Act, be punished with imprisonment  for  a  term
        which may be extended to two years,  or with fine which may  extend
        to twice the amount of the cheque, or with both:


        Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply unless-


             a) the cheque has been presented to the bank within a period of
                six months from the date on which it is drawn or within  the
                period of its validity, whichever is earlier;


             xxx             xxx             xxx”

      We are in agreement with Mr. Ahmadi and, in fact, it is apparent  from
a plain reading of proviso (a) aforesaid that Section 138 of the  Act  would
apply only when the cheque is presented to the Bank within a period  of  six
months from the date on which it is drawn or within period of its  validity,
whichever      is earlier.


      Mr. Ahmadi then points out that the cheque is valid from the  date  it
is drawn and hence period of six months has to be calculated from  the  said
date.  On facts, he points  out  that  the  cheque  was  drawn  on  31st  of
December, 2005 and presented on 30th of June,  2006,  which  is  beyond  the
period of six months.  He submits that cheque is valid from the  date  shown
in it and therefore for calculation of six months, the  date  on  which  the
cheque is drawn has to be included.  He  has  suggested  the  following  two
modes of calculation:

“CALCULATION OF THE PERIOD OF 6 MONTHS AS PRESCRIBED UNDER  SECTION  138  OF
THE NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS ACT, 1881.



      DATE OF DRAWL OF CHEQUE           – 31.12.2005
      DATE OF PRESENTATION OF CHEQUE– 30.06.2006

|No. of days in the relevant  |Month-wise calculation       |
|months                       |                             |
|January – 31 days            |1st Month                    |
|                             |31st December to 30th January|
|February – 28 days           |2nd Month                    |
|                             |30th January to 27th February|
|March – 31 days              |3rd Month                    |
|                             |27th February to 30th  March |
|April – 30 days              |4th Month                    |
|                             |30th March to 29th April     |
|May – 31 days                |5th Month                    |
|                             |29th April to 30th May       |
|June – 30 days               |6th Month                    |
|                             |30th May to 29th June        |




                             OR

|No. of days in the relevant  |Month-wise calculation       |
|months                       |                             |
|January – 31 days            |1st Month                    |
|                             |31st December to 30th January|
|February – 28 days           |2nd Month                    |
|                             |31ST January to 27th February|
|March – 31 days              |3rd Month                    |
|                             |28th February to 27th  March |
|April – 30 days              |4th Month                    |
|                             |28th March to 27th April     |
|May – 31 days                |5th Month                    |
|                             |28th April to 27th May       |
|June – 30 days               |6th Month                    |
|                             |28th May to 27th June        |


      To put the record straight, the  modes  suggested,  in  fact,  do  not
reflect his  submission.   He,  however,  submits  that  whichever  mode  is
adopted, the cheque was not presented within the period of six  months.   In
support of the submission, he has placed  reliance  on  a  decision  of  the
Kerala High Court in the case of  K.V. Muhammed  Kunhi  vs.  P.  Janardhanan
[1998 CRL.L.J. 4330] and our attention  has  been  drawn  to  the  following
passage from the said judgment:
        “3. ………..A comparative study of both the Sections in  the  Act  and
        the General Clauses Act significantly indicate that the  period  of
        limitation has to be reckoned from the date on which the cheque  or
        instrument was drawn.   The  words  ‘from’  and  ‘to’  employed  in
        Section 9 of the General Clauses Act are evidently  clear  that  in
        cases where there is an ambiguity or suspicion  with  reference  to
        the date of commencement of period of  limitation  in  any  Act  or
        special enactment, the words ‘from’ and ‘to’ employed in Section  9
        of the General Clauses Act can be pressed into service.  But in the
        instant case before me, Section 138 proviso (a) is  involved  which
        is so clear (as extracted above) that the date of  limitation  will
        commence only from the date found in the cheque or the instrument.”


      Mr. Ahmadi submits that the aforesaid view has been approved  by  this
Court in the case of Sivakumar vs.  Natarajan  (2009)  13  SCC  623  in  the
following words:
        “14. ………..A comparative study of both the Sections in the  Act  and
        the General Clauses Act significantly indicate that the  period  of
        limitation has to be reckoned from the date on which the cheque  or
        instrument was drawn.   The  words  ‘from’  and  ‘to’  employed  in
        Section 9 of the General Clauses Act are evidently  clear  that  in
        cases where there is an ambiguity or suspicion  with  reference  to
        the date of commencement of period of  limitation  in  any  Act  or
        special enactment, the words ‘from and ‘to’ employed in  Section  9
        of the General Clauses Act can be pressed into service.


        We are in agreement with the aforementioned view.”




     It may look like a repetition of the judgment but its  relevance  would
be apparent from what we have observed in the subsequent paragraphs of  this
judgement.


     Given the general importance of the question involved, we had requested
Mr. V.Giri, learned Senior Counsel, to assist us as  amicus  curiae  and  he
very generously agreed to do so.  We have also  heard  Ms.  Hemantika  Wahi,
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents.

      They contend that the period of six months  had  expired  on  30th  of
June, 2006 i.e. the date on which the cheque was presented, which is  within
six months from the date it was drawn. They submit that as a  general  rule,
in case of any ambiguity,  Section  9  of  the  General  Clauses  Act,  1897
provides for exclusion of the first day and inclusion of the  last  day  for
the purpose of calculating commencement or termination of time. They  submit
that the date of issue of cheque,  i.e.  31st  of  December,2005  is  to  be
excluded and the last day, i.e. 30th of June, 2006 is  to  be  included  for
the purpose of calculating the period of six months  under  proviso  (a)  of
Section 138 of the Act. According to the learned  counsel,  since  the  last
day of the six months’ period was 30th of June,  2006  and  the  cheque  was
presented on that very same day, the complaint under Section 138 of the  Act
is not time barred.

      We have given  our  most  anxious  consideration  to  the  submissions
advanced and we do not find any substance in the submission  of  Mr.  Ahmadi
that the cheque was not presented to the Bank within a period of six  months
from the date on which it was drawn and the judgments relied on  go  against
him instead of supporting his contention.

      The first question which calls for our answer is the  meaning  of  the
expression “month”: whether it would mean only a  period  of  30  days  and,
consequently, whether six months would mean a period of 180 days.  The  word
“month” has been defined under Section 3(35) of the General Clauses  Act  to
mean a month reckoned  according  to  the  British  calendar.  Therefore  we
cannot ignore  or  eschew  the  word  ‘British  calendar’  while  construing
“month” under the Act. Accordingly, we are of the opinion  that  the  period
of six months cannot be calculated on 30 days in a month  basis.  Therefore,
both the  modes  of  calculation  suggested  by  Mr.Ahmadi  do  not  deserve
acceptance and are rejected accordingly.

      The next question which calls for our answer is the  date  from  which
six months’ period would commence. In case of ambiguity  with  reference  to
the date of commencement, Section 9  of  the  General  Clauses  Act  can  be
pressed into service and the same reads           as follows:
        “9. Commencement and termination of time.-(1) In any Central Act or
        Regulation made after the commencement of this  Act,  it  shall  be
        sufficient, for the purpose of excluding the first in a  series  of
        days or any other period of time, to use the word “from”, and,  for
        the purpose of including the last in a series of days or any  other
        period of time, to use the word “to”.




     From the judgment of this Court in the case of Sivakaumar(supra) and as
quoted in the preceding paragraph of this judgment, it is evident that  this
Court recorded its agreement to a limited extent that “in cases where  there
is an ambiguity or suspicion with reference to the date of  commencement  of
period of limitation” “Section 9 of the General Clauses Act can  be  pressed
into service.”  We would hasten to add that this Court in Sivakumar  (supra)
did not give nod to the following proposition enunciated by the Kerala  High
Court in K.V.Muhammed Kunhi (supra).
        “3………….But in the instant case before me, Section 138  proviso  (a)
        is involved which is so clear (as extracted above) that the date of
        limitation will commence only from the date found in the cheque  or
        the instrument.”




      In the case  of  K.V.Muhammed  Kunhi  (supra)  the  cheque  was  dated
17.11.1994 and that was presented on 17.5.1995, and in this  background  the
Court observed as follows:
        “5. …. When on the footing of  the  days  covered  by  the  British
        calendar month the period of limitation in  the  case  on  hand  is
        calculated, the cheque ought to have been presented in the Bank for
        collection on or before 16-5-1995. But in this case, as pointed out
        above the cheque had been presented for collection  only  on  17-5-
        1995, which is clearly barred by limitation.”




      In  this  case,  six  months’  period  expired  a  day  prior  to  the
corresponding month. In  the  case  in  hand,  no  such  day  falls  in  the
corresponding month and therefore the last day would be  last  date  of  the
immediate        previous month.

      Mr. Ahmadi appeals to us that if we take the view that the cheque  was
presented to the Bank before the expiry of six months, it would  be  in  the
teeth of the judgment of this Court in the case  of  Sivakumar  (supra)  and
therefore the matter shall be required to be referred  to  a  larger  Bench.
From what we have observed above, we have not taken a  view  different  than
what has been held in Sivakumar (supra) and therefore we  do  not  find  any
necessity to refer the case to a larger Bench.


      Proviso (a) to Section 138 of the Act uses the expression “six  months
from the date on which it is drawn”. Once the word ‘from’ is  used  for  the
purpose of commencement of time,  in  view  of  Section  9  of  the  General
Clauses Act, the day on which the cheque is drawn has to be excluded.

      This Court, relying on  several  English  decisions,  dealt  with  the
issue of computation of time for the purpose of  limitation  extensively  in
Haru Das Gupta v. State of West Bengal, (1972) 1 SCC 639  wherein  Paragraph
5 states as follows:

        “5. These decisions show  that  courts  have  drawn  a  distinction
        between a term created within which an act may be done and  a  time
        limited for the doing of an act. The rule is well established  that
        where a particular time is given from a certain date  within  which
        an act is to be done, the day on that date is to be excluded,  (see
        Goldsmiths Company v. The West Metropolitan Railway Co. (1904 KB  1
        at 5). This rule was followed  in Cartwright v. Maccormack (1963) 1
        All E.R. 11, where the expression “fifteen days from  the  date  of
        commencement of the policy” in a cover note issued by an  insurance
        company was construed as excluding the first  date  and  the  cover
        note to commence at midnight of that day, and  also  in  Marren  v.
        Dawson  Bentley  and  Co.  Ltd.,  (1961)  2  QB  135,  a  case  for
        compensation for injuries received in  the  course  of  employment,
        where for purposes of computing the period of limitation  the  date
        of the accident, being  the  date  of  the  cause  of  action,  was
        excluded. (See also Stewart v. Chadman [1951] 2 KB 792  and  In  re
        North, Ex parte Wasluck [1895] 2 QB 264.) Thus, as a  general  rule
        the effect of defining a period from such a day until  such  a  day
        within which an act is to be done is to exclude the first  day  and
        to include the last day. [See Halsbury’s Laws of England (3rd  ed.)
        Vol.37, pp.92 and 95.] There is no reason why the aforesaid rule of
        construction followed consistently and for so long should not  also
        be applied here.”
                               (underlining ours)


      This decision was quoted with approval in Saketh India Ltd.  v.  India
Securities Ltd., (1999) 3 SCC 1 in the following words:

        “7. The aforesaid principle of excluding the  day  from  which  the
        period is to be reckoned is incorporated in Section 12(1)  and  (2)
        of the Limitation Act, 1963. Section  12(1)  specifically  provides
        that in computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal  or
        application, the day from which such  period  is  to  be  reckoned,
        shall be excluded. Similar provision is made in sub-section (2) for
        appeal, revision or review. The same principle is also incorporated
        in Section 9 of the General Clauses Act, 1897  which,  inter  alia,
        provides that in any Central Act made after the commencement of the
        General Clauses Act, it shall be sufficient,  for  the  purpose  of
        excluding the first in a series of days  or  any  other  period  of
        time, to use the word “from” and for the purpose of  including  the
        last in a series of days or any other period of time,  to  use  the
        word “to”.


        8. Hence, there is no reason for not adopting the  rule  enunciated
        in the aforesaid case which is consistently followed and  which  is
        adopted in the General Clauses Act and the Limitation Act……………”

      The correctness of this judgment came up for  consideration  before  a
three-Judge Bench of this Court in Econ Antri Ltd. vs. Rom  Industries  Ltd.
& Anr., AIR 2013 SC 3283 which approved the reasoning of  this  Court  given
in Saketh (supra) and Haru Das Gupta (supra) and held as under:

        “16. We have extensively referred to Saketh. The reasoning of  this
        Court in Saketh based on the above English  decisions and  decision
        of this Court in Haru Das Gupta which aptly lay  down  and  explain
        the principle that where a particular time is given from a  certain
        date within which an act has to be done, the day of the date is  to
        be excluded, commends itself to us as against the reasoning of this
        Court in SIL Import USA where there is no  reference  to  the  said
        decisions.


                 xxx         xxx        xxx


        22. In view of the above, it is not possible to hold that the  word
        ‘of’ occurring in Section 138(a) and 142(b) of the N.I.Act is to be
        interpreted differently as against the  word  ‘from’  occurring  in
        Section 138(a) of the N.I.Act; and that for the purposes of Section
        142(b), which prescribes that the complaint is to be  filed  within
        30 days of the date on  which  the  cause  of  action  arises,  the
        starting day on which the cause of action arises should be included
        for computing the period of 30 days. As held  in  Ex  parte  Fallon
        (1793) 5 Term  Rep 283 the words ‘of’, ‘from’ and ‘after’ may, in a
        given case, mean really the  same  thing.  As  stated  in  Stroud’s
        Judicial Dictionary, Vol. 3 1953 Edition, Note (5), the  word  ‘of’
        is sometimes equivalent of ‘after’.”

      At this stage, we would also  like  to  refer  to  Halsbury’s  Law  of
England, Vol. 37, 3rd Edn., Paragraph 143 at Pages 83-84 which provides  for
calculation of a calendar month:


        “143. Calendar month running from arbitrary date. When  the  period
        prescribed is a calendar month running from any arbitrary date  the
        period expires with the day in  the  succeeding  month  immediately
        preceding the day corresponding to the date upon which  the  period
        starts; save that, if the period starts at the end  of  a  calendar
        month which contains more days than the next succeeding month,  the
        period expires at the end of the latter month.”

      Drawing a conclusion from the above mentioned authorities, we  are  of
the opinion  that  the  use  of  word  “from”  in  Section  138(a)  requires
exclusion of the first day on which the cheque was drawn  and  inclusion  of
the last day within which such act needs to be done.  In  other  words,  six
months would expire one day prior to the date  in  the  corresponding  month
and in case no such day falls,  the  last  day  of  the  immediate  previous
month. Hence, for all purposes, the date on  which  the  cheque  was  drawn,
i.e., 31.12.2005 will be excluded and the  period  of  six  months  will  be
reckoned from  the  next  day  i.e.  from  1.1.2006;  meaning  thereby  that
according to the British calendar, the period of six months will  expire  at
the end of the 30th day of June, 2006. Since the  cheque  was  presented  on
30.6.2006, we are of the view  that  it  was  presented  within  the  period
prescribed.

      Viewed from  any  angle,  the  prosecution  is  not  time  barred  and
therefore, cannot be scuttled at this stage on this ground.  As  the  matter
is pending since long, the learned Magistrate in seisin of the  trial  shall
make endeavour to conclude it within six months from the date the  appellant
next appears in the case. We direct  the  appellant  to  appear  before  the
trial Judge on 3rd of March, 2014 and no notice is to be issued to  him  for
his appearance.

      In the result, we do not find any  merit  in  the  appeal  and  it  is
dismissed accordingly.


                             ………..………..……………………………….J.
                                                   (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)



                                                    ………………….………………………………….J.
                              (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)




NEW DELHI.
FEBRUARY 18, 2014.


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