New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said, a person may face criminal proceedings if a cheque issued by him gets dishonoured on the ground that his signature does not match the specimen signature available with the bank.
A bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra set aside the verdict of Gujarat High Court which had held that criminal proceedings for dishonouring of cheque can be initiated only when the cheque is dishonoured because of lack of sufficient amount in the bank account and not in case where a cheque is returned due to mismatch of signature of account holder.
"Just as dishonour of a cheque on the ground that the account has been closed is a dishonour falling in the first contingency referred to in Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act, so also dishonour on the ground that the 'signatures do not match' or that the 'image is not found', which too implies that the specimen signatures do not match the signatures on the cheque would constitute a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 of the Act," the bench said.
The apex court, however, said that in such cases, the account holder must be given a notice and an opportunity to arrange the payments before initiation of criminal proceedings against him. "It is only when the drawer despite receipt of such a notice and despite the opportunity to make the payment within the time stipulated under the statute does not pay the amount that the dishonour would be considered a dishonour constituting an offence, hence punishable," the apex court said.
(With inputs from PTI)