2008 ALL SCR 1898
TARUN CHATTERJEE AND AFTAB ALAM, JJ.
M/S. Indo Automobiles Vs. M/S. Jai Durga Enterprises & Ors.
Criminal Appeal No.1101 of 2008,SLP (Crl.) No.3650 of 2006
15th July, 2008
Negotiable Instruments Act (1881) S.138 - Statutory notice of dishonour - Presumption as to service of - Notice, once sent by registered post with acknowledgment due on a correct address, it must be presumed that service has been made effective - Statutory notice sent to correct address of drawer, if returned with endorsement, it must be presumed to be served to drawer - Burden to show that accused drawee had managed to get an incorrect postal endorsement, is on complainant - Quashing of proceedings by High Court on ground that although notice sent through registered post and also under certificate of posting, because of endorsement of postal peon, service could not be said to be valid, not justified - Impugned order set aside - Proceedings restored to its original file - Appeal allowed. 1999(4) ALL MR 452 (S.C.), 2005 ALL MR (Cri) 269 (S.C.) - Rel. on. (Paras 8, 9)
5. A proceeding under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act was initiated against the respondents. In the said proceeding, the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Saharanpur passed an order summoning the respondents for trial. Challenging the aforesaid order, an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was moved by the respondents for quashing the summons. The High Court by the impugned order had quashed the said proceeding on the ground that no notice was served on the respondents.
7. Having considered the materials on record and after hearing learned counsel for the appellant, we are of the view that the impugned Judgment of the High Court cannot be sustained for the reasons stated hereinafter.
8. Admittedly, notice under Section 138-B of the Negotiable Instruments Act was sent to the respondents through registered post and under a certificate of posting on the correct address of the respondents. The High Court had quashed proceeding on the ground that although notice through registered post and also under certificate of posting were sent by the appellant/complainant to the respondents but because of the endorsement of the postal peon, the service could not be said to have been effected. In our view, the High Court was not justified in holding that service of notice could not be found to be valid. In K. Bhaskaran Vs. Sankaran Vaidhyan Balan & Anr. [1999(7) SCC 510], it has been held that the context of section 138-B of the Negotiable Instruments Act invites a liberal interpretation favouring the person who has the statutory obligation to give notice under the Act because he must be presumed to be the loser in the transaction and provision itself has been made in his interest and if a strict interpretation is asked for that would give a handle to the trickster cheque drawer. It is also well settled that once notice has been sent by registered post with acknowledgment due on a correct address, it must be presumed that the service has been made effective. We do not find from the endorsement of the postal peon that the postal peon was at all examined. In V. Raja Kumari Vs. P. Subbarama Naidu & Anr. [2004(8) SCC 774 : (2005 ALL MR (Cri) 269 (S.C.))], again this Court reiterated the same principle and held that the statutory notice under Sections 138 and 142 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 sent to the correct address of the drawer but returned with the endorsement must be presumed to be served to the drawer and the burden to show that the accused drawee had managed to get an incorrect postal endorsement letter on the complainant and affixed thereon has to be considered during trial on the background facts of the case.
9. That being the position, we are unable to sustain the order of the High Court and the impugned order is set aside and the proceeding started under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act is restored to its original file. The appeal is, therefore, allowed to the extent indicated above. We, however, make it clear that at the trial stage on the question of interpretation, postal endorsement affixed thereon shall be considered on the background facts of the present case.