Punjab & Haryana HC Reduces Imprisonment on Account of Socio-Economic Offence

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The petitioner, Rakesh Kumar has received rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years, and it is the maximum sentence prescribed under the Negotiable Instrument Act. Hence, the petitioner approached the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The plea confines his prayer to reduce the time of Imprisonment.

Facts of the Case

The Complainant Jasbir Singh sent a notice to the petitioner demanding payment of the cheque amount in 2006. But, the petitioner didn’t receive any response. Hence, he filed a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. After this, the petitioner was sentenced to undergo two years imprisonment in 2019. He was also directed to pay compensation equal to the cheque amount. He has to pay along with interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of cheque till the date of the judgment.

Submissions Before the Court

Mr Manuj Nagrath appeared for the petitioner. Mr Nagrath submits that the petitioner is poor. He has undergone a protracted trial of almost 10 years. Moreover, he has undergone an actual sentence of one year and 9 days. Hence, the petitioner deserves some leniency.

Mr Bajaj vehemently opposed the submissions. He states that the petitioner has committed an offence. Thus, he deserves to undergo the complete sentence awarded by the Trial Court.

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that:

  1. Cheque bounce is not an offence against society and an accused can escape punishment by settling with the complainant.              
  2. The fact that the convict is poor and had undergone a protracted trial.
  3. The fact that the cheque amount is only Rs. 4 lakhs. So, the award of the maximum sentence is arbitrary.

Court’s Order

The single-judge bench comprised of Justice Sudhir Mittal reduced the imprisonment for a period of one year and six months along with payment of compensation as decided by the trial Court.


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