The Bombay High Court, on Monday, expressed dissatisfaction over the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards appointing additional metropolitan magistrates to tackle the seven lakh pending cheque bouncing cases.
The judges were listening to arguments in a public interest litigation filed by the Nasik District Industrial and Mercantile Bank, which raised concern about the inordinate delay in the disposal of cheque-bouncing cases when provisions of the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act which says that cases must be “preferably” decided within 6 months.
“Currently, it takes about six months only to issue the first notice,” observed the division bench of Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayed.
The bench reminded Additional Public Prosecutor, Anand Patil that presently, every magistrate in the city has nearly 22,000 cases dealing with bounced cheques, as opposed to the expected average disposal of 2,000 cases per year.
Considering the huge number of pending cases — 3.26 lakh — the bench observed that the city will require at least 50 additional magistrates to handle only cheque-bouncing cases, under section 138 of the NI Act.
Patil pointed out to the court that in the last four years, the number of magistrates across the state has gone up from 600 in 2006 to 1,100 in 2010. The prosecutor also reminded the court that a proposal for appointing 15 additional magistrates for exclusively handling 138 cases has been forwarded to the state.
The submission, however, failed to impress the judges, who asked the state to take concrete steps for resolving the problem. The court has now sought assistance from Advocate General Ravi Kadam.