Yesterday’s screen goddess, today’s recluse. She’s turned her back on the world for years, but continues to command attention in the corridors of power. Yet, she’s failed to find a way of recovering the money she had parked with a city-based finance company — its promoters are allegedly close to the ruling CPM — which has issued cheques of dividends that have bounced.
The former actress joins a growing list of Calcuttans stumped by bounced cheques. With this in mind, Calcutta High Court has directed its subordinate criminal courts —Alipore, Sealdah and Bankshal — to ensure quick disposal of cases relating to dishonoured cheques. At present, 153 such cases are pending with the three city criminal courts. No case has so far been reported in the districts.
The high court directive follows a push by the Centre to curb the menace of bounced cheques, which includes introduction of a facility by which victims can e-mail their complaints directly to the three criminal courts. This will ensure speedy disposal of cheque-bounce cases.
“Dishonouring of cheques is the most common financial crime. The e-complaints will spare victims the trouble of chasing lawyers, putting together piles of papers and appearing frequently in court,” said a high court official. In order to implement the Centre’s decision, the government will instal computers in all three criminal courts in the city.
The Centre has also called for exemplary punishment in such cases. Now, a person found guilty of issuing a bogus cheque is punishable under the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act. “He or she either has to pay double the cheque amount or face imprisonment up to one year,” a court official said. The Centre has proposed amendment of the NI Act to make the guilty pay up to three times the cheque amount and serve a two-year jail term.
The other proposed amendment involves increasing the period for issue of notice by the payee to the drawer from 15 days to 30 days. It provides discretion to the court to waive the period of one month prescribed for taking cognisance of the case under the NI Act and prescribe procedure for dispensing with preliminary evidence of the complainant.
According to law minstry sources, Delhi courts have already introduced, on an experimental basis, the facility of filing such complaints electronically. “In Calcutta, too, many will benefit from the e-complaint system,” an official said. There are 13,062 cheque-bounce cases pending in the country. Delhi tops the dubious list, with 5,417 cases.