Question: What remedy do I have in case I have exceeded the limitation period of 30 days in sending the legal notice after the cheque bounce? I forgot to issue a notice to the drawer of the cheque within thirty days of the receipt of information from the bank about the return of the cheque unpaid. Can there be any condonation of delay in issue of legal notice to drawer? What are other remedies in this regard?
Answer: One of the mandatory conditions for the offence of cheque dishonour under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act is laid down in clause (b) of the Proviso to this section, which is reproduced as under:
“(b) the payee or the holder in due course of the cheque, as the case may be, makes a demand for the payment of the said amount of money by giving a notice in writing, to the drawer of the cheque, within thirty days of the receipt of information by him from the bank regarding the return of the cheque as unpaid; and…”.
Therefore, it is essential that a legal notice must be sent by the payee to the drawer within 30 days of the receipt of information from the bank regarding the return of the cheque as unpaid. This is a mandatory condition. In the absence of this condition being satisfied, case of cheque bounce cannot be filed. Moreover, there is no condonation of delay for this condition. Even the provisions of Section 142 of the N.I. Act (relating to condonation of delay) do not apply for this delay.
So, what are the remedies if one forgot to issue such a notice within the aforesaid period of 30 days?
Well, in my opinion, there could be two options which may be available to the payee of the cheque in such a situation (i.e., if he has forgotten to issue a legal notice within the stipulated 30 days):
(1) If the cheque is still within its validity period, he can again present the cheque to the bank for clearing the amount. If the cheque is returned unpaid for the second time, then this time he can issue a legal notice within 30 days from the date of the cheque being returned unpaid for the second time. [However, if the validity period of the cheque is already over, then this option cannot be exercised.]. In this regard, also read the following articles:
- Can a dishonoured cheque be presented again in bank for payment?
- Cheque dishonour under Section 138 N.I. Act when cheque presented multiple times in bank.
(2) The payee can file a civil suit or summary suit (as applicable) against the drawer of the cheque for recovery of the money underlying the cheque, presuming that it is a legally enforceable debt. In this way, he will be able to at least recover the money.