Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, March 4 : The Supreme Court on Thursday stressed that Centre should come up with a law to create additional courts, for a specific period, to counter pendency of cheque bounce cases which runs over 35 Lakhs.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said under Article 247 of the Constitution, the Centre has power to establish additional courts to deal with cheque dishonour cases under provisions of Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act. Article 247 says Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, Parliament may by law provide for the establishment of any additional courts for the better administration of laws made Parliament or of any existing laws with respect to a matter enumerated in the Union List.

The bench also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, B R Gavai, AS Bopanna and S Ravindra Bhat said the pendency of cases that is rising due to NI Act is grotesque.

"You can make a law to create additional courts for a particular period of time to deal with such cases", noted the bench, citing that Centre could explore appointment of retired judges or experts in these courts.

In the previous hearing in the matter, the Ministry of Finance had suggested that instead of setting up of additional courts, certain measures specified in para 6(a) of the Office Memorandum dated March 2, 2021 produced in the court, be implemented. However, Solicitor General, representing the Centre, said the court's suggestion is a welcome and the government is open wide-ranging discussion on the issue. After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on March 10. The top court also asked Mehta to make statement on the proposed law to establish additional courts.

On Wednesday, the top court had said "There is no doubt or dispute about the fact that matters under the N.I. Act have posed what by now has become an intractable problem/accounting for close to 30 to 40 per cent of the pendency in the trial courts and a very high percentage in the High Courts also." The top court has taken suo motu cognizance to work out a mechanism for expeditious and just adjudication of cases connected with dishonoured cheques.

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