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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.

———————–
20

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