Cheque bouncing may also give rise to cheating case, rules Supreme Court
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi, Apr 24: For issuing a cheque without sufficient fund in one's account, a person can be tried for both bouncing of his cheque and for cheating as the two trials do not breach double jeopardy doctrine, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and J S Khehar gave the ruling while dismissing Gujarat native Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel's appeal for quashing a criminal case of cheating and breach of trust, pending before Patan's chief judicial magistrate in the state.
She had come to the apex court contending that as per the double jeopardy doctrine, she cannot be tried twice for the same offence.
Under the double jeopardy doctrine, enshrined under Article 22 of the Constitution and section 300(1) of the CrPC, a person cannot be convicted twice for the same offence.
The apex court, however, dismissed her appeal, saying the doctrine of double jeopardy "does not prevent the trial of any offence but only precludes the evidence being led to prove a fact in issue as regards which evidence has already been led and a specific finding has been recorded at an earlier criminal trial.
"Thus, the rule relates only to the admissibility of evidence which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded by a competent court in a previous trial on a factual issue," the bench said citing the apex court's earlier rulings.
In this case, the woman was convicted by a trial court under the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act for issuing a cheque of Rs 20 lakh which had bounced at the bank in 2003.
The complainant, who was given the cheque, had also lodged a complaint with the police on February 6, 2004, accusing the woman of having committed the offences of criminal breach of trust and cheating, respectively under sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code.
In the case under Section 138 of N.I Act, the trial court had convicted her, but she was acquitted by the district court, upon which the complainant had gone to the high court in appeal, which is pending.
The high court had dismissed her plea for quashing the complaint following which she had appealed in the apex court.
Section 300(1) CrPC reads, "A person who has once been tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of such offence shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in force, not be liable to be tried again for the same offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been made under subsection (1) of Section 221, or for which he might have been convicted under sub-section (2) thereof."
Writing the judgement for the bench, Justice Chauhan said, "The test to ascertain whether the two offences are the same is not identity of the allegations but the identity of the ingredients of the offence.
"Motive for committing offence cannot be termed as ingredients of offences to determine the issue."
According to the apex court, in the case relating to the offence under the NI act, the theory of mens rea (guilty intention) is not required whereas, it is a requirement under the criminal offences registered against her.
"However, in the case under IPC involved herein, the issue of mens rea may be relevant. The offence punishable under Section 420 IPC is a serious one as the sentence of 7 years can be imposed.
"There may be some overlapping of facts in both the cases but ingredients of offences are entirely different. Thus, the subsequent case is not barred by any of the aforesaid statutory provisions," the bench said dismissing the appeal.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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