A cheque bounce complaint can be filed anywhere and not necessarily where the transaction took place, ruled the Bombay high court. The court also granted exemption to the accused from personally remaining present in the trial court for every hearing.
The court was hearing applications filed by the directors of a Bangalore-based company challenging the criminal proceedings initiated by a metropolitan magistrate at Bandra.
Justice VM Kanade observed that since the complainant had a corporate office at Bandra-Kurla Complex, the local magistrate had the jurisdiction to entertain the complaint.
On January 24, 2008, a loan-cum-hypothecation agreement was executed between IDEB Projects Pvt. Ltd and L&T Finance Limited at Bangalore.
Three cheques totalling Rs 12,65,883 lakh were issued by IDEB for repayment of the loan. The cheques were dishonoured, after which L&T issued a demand notice to IDEB in March 2009.
As IDEB did not repay the loan amount within 15 days of receiving the demand notice, L&T filed a compliant under the Negotiable Instruments Act with the metropolitan magistrate at Bandra. Rajiv Banga, Sachin Shah and Hardeep Singh, directors of IDEB Projects Pvt. Ltd, had filed applications challenging the criminal proceedings saying the agreement and the cheques were signed and deposited in Bangalore where the complainant L&T Finance Limited had an office.
Their lawyers – senior counsel Ashok Mundargi and advocate Niranjan Mundargi – argued that the Bandra magistrate’s court did not have jurisdiction to decide on the complaint as all documents were signed in Bangalore. Anand Poojari, advocate for L&T, said they have a registered office at Ballard Estate and a corporate office at the BKC. The court said: “The amount due under the agreement was payable at the corporate office at BKC. The notice was sent from the BKC office. The complainant is carrying on business in Mumbai and, therefore, the Bandra court clearly has jurisdiction to try and decide this case.”
Justice Kanade has asked the magistrate to record the directors’ statement through their advocate.