Recently, the Parliament of India enacted the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2018. The said Amendment Act inserts following important provisions in the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (in short, ‘NI Act’): –
1. Section 143A has been inserted in the NI Act providing power to the Courts to order the drawer of the Cheque to pay interim compensation to the Complainant. Such interim compensation, if ordered by the Court, must be paid within sixty days from the date of the Order.
2. If the drawer of the Cheque is acquitted, the Court shall direct the Complainant to repay the drawer the amount of interim compensation, with interest at prevailing rates, within sixty days from the date of the Order of the acquittal.
3. In an appeal by the drawer against conviction under section 138, the Appellate Court may order the Appellant/Drawer to deposit such sum which shall be minimum of twenty per cent of the fine or compensation awarded by the trial Court. Such amount shall be in addition to the interim compensation. The Appellate Court has been conferred power under Section 148 to direct release of such amount deposited by the Appellant to the Complainant and in case of acquittal by the Appellate Court, the Complainant shall have to return the same with interest.
Insertion of new section 148.
In the principal Act, after section 147, the following section shall be inserted, namely:—
Power of Appellate Court to order payment pending appeal against conviction.
‘‘148. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, in an appeal by the drawer against conviction under section 138, the Appellate Court may order the appellant to deposit such sum which shall be a minimum of twenty per cent. of the fine or compensation awarded by the trial Court:
Provided that the amount payable under this sub-section shall be in addition to any interim compensation paid by the appellant under section 143A.
(2) The amount referred to in sub-section (1) shall be deposited within sixty days from the date of the order, or within such further period not exceeding thirty days as may be directed by the Court on sufficient cause being shown by the appellant.
(3) The Appellate Court may direct the release of the amount deposited by the appellant to the complainant at any time during the pendency of the appeal:
Provided that if the appellant is acquitted, the Court shall direct the complainant to repay to the appellant the amount so released, with interest at the bank rate as published by the Reserve Bank of India, prevalent at the beginning of the relevant financial year, within sixty days from the date of the order, or within such further period not exceeding thirty days as may be directed by the Court on sufficient cause being shown by the complainant.’’
It was to come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint. Now, the Central Government, on August 16, 2018, has appointed September 01, 2018, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force.