Courts cannot impose a fine of more than twice the amount on bounced cheques, the Supreme Court has held, stressing that the limit is inviolable and should be respected.
“First and foremost is the fact that the power to levy fine is circumscribed under the statute to twice the cheque amount… Even in a case where the court may be taking a lenient view in favour of the accused by not sending him to prison, it cannot impose a fine more than twice the cheque amount,” a bench of justices TS Thakur and Vikramajit Sen said. It set aside the Calcutta High Court order which had directed a person to pay Rs1,49,500 against the cheque amount of Rs69,500. In this cheque bounce case, a trial court had sentenced a person to six months imprisonment and directed him to pay compensation amounting to Rs80,000. The accused, Somnath Sarkar, then approached the High Court which directed him to pay an additional Rs69,500 to the complainant and his jail term was waived.
Mr Sarkar then moved a mercy plea before the Supreme Court. The Court, after hearing his plea, set aside the High Court order and reduced the amount of Rs69,500 to Rs20,000.
India has slipped by five places to 106th spot (continuous decline for five years), way below neighbouring Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and China in the World Prosperity Index, largely due to poor ‘safety and security’ environment. In the ‘Prosperity Index’ ranking of 142 countries compiled by London-based Legatum Institute, India dropped from 101st position last year, while Norway continues to remain at the top. The 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index evaluates nations in eight categories, including education, health, economy, safety and security.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to charge customers for transaction SMS alerts on the basis of actual usage, instead of imposing a fixed fee. This step comes as a response to the Moneylife Cover Story (issue dated 5 September 2013) which highlighted that banks had suddenly started charging a flat fee and that too stealthily. While banks argue that customers must pay for the convenience of modern banking, there is a growing sense of frustration among customers about the constant, stealthy increase in bank charges. But many depositors don’t even know about these charges.