1999(1)ALD(Cri)778, 1999(3)ALT600, 100CompCas449(AP), 1999CriLJ4205
THE HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH AT HYDERABAD
P. No. 1839 and 1840 of 1999
PGM Spinning Ltd., Hyderabad and others
Respondent: APSFC, Hyderabad and another
Bilal Nazki, J.
For Appellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff: Mr. MilindG.
Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 - Sections 138 and 142; General Clauses
Act, 1897 - Sections 3(35) and 3(38)
Mandhadi Ramachandra Reddy v. Gopumareddy Ram Reddy and Ors, 1997 (3)
APLJ 18 (SN); Sadanandan Bhadran v. Madhavan Sunil Kumar, 1998 (6) SCC
– limitation period - Sections 138 and 142 of Negotiable Instruments
Act, 1881 – cheque issued and dishonoured as ‘payment stopped by drawer’
– notice issued to petitioner – Section 142 of Act states complaint
to be made within one month from date of cause of action and not 30
days – held, complaint filed within one month thus valid.
the petitions are interconnected, parties are also same therefore
they are decided by this common order.
filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act against
the petitioners is sought to be quashed by these petitions. Two grounds
were agitated before this Court for getting the complaint quashed.
One of the grounds stated was that the complaint is not maintainable
as it-, has been filed beyond time. According to the complaint the
cheque was issued on 26th August, 1996, it was presented on 12-12-1996
before the Bank which was dishonoured with the endorsement "payment
stopped by drawer". Notice was issued by the complainant to the
petitioners on 30th December, 1996 which was acknowledged by the petitioners
on 31st December, 1996. Complaint was filed on 14th February, 1997.
The case of the petitioners is that the statutory period of 15 days
for a re-action to the notice would end on 14th January, 1997. This
is wrong in view of the fact that under Section 142 of the Negotiable
Instruments Act 15 days clear notice has to be given which would mean
that the notice period would end on 15th January, 1997 and not on
14th January, 1997. If it is taken as 14th January, 1997, then the
petitioners would have got only 14 days to react to the notice. The
petitioners further state that, since the 15 days notice period expired
on 14th January, 1997 the complaint should have been filed on or before
13th February, 1997. He contends that the statutory period of one
month begins with 15th January, 1997 but surprisingly states that
the statutory period ends on 13th February, 1997. Even if it is accepted
that the period of one month starts from 15th January, 1997, the period
would end on 14th January, 3997 and even then the complaint is within
time as it has been filed on 14th February, 1997. But, this Court
feels that, in this case the period of one month would start from
16th January, 1997 and the complaint would have been within time even
on 15th February, 1997. The petitioner commit a mistake by confusing
30 days with a month. Section 142 of the Act lays down that the complaint
should be made within one month of the date on which the cause of
action arises under clause (c) to proviso to Section 138. That means,
once a notice is given and the payment is not made within 15 days
the cause of action will start to commenced on the 16th day and the
complainant would have one month time from 16th day as such, in this
case the complaint would have been within time even on 15th February,
1997. It is well settled that 30 days is different than a month. Section
3(38) and Section 3(35) of the General Clauses Act defines 'year'
and 'month' respectively and lays down that 'year' and 'month' shall
respectively mean a year and month reckoned according to the British
Calendar. With regard to the definition of 'month', Hahbury's Laws
of England in para 143 Volume 37, 3rd Edition it has been stated :
the period prescribed is a calendar month running from any arbitrary
date, the period expires with the day in the succeeding month immediately
preceding the day corresponding to the date upon which the period starts
save that if the period starts at the end of a calendar month which
contains more days than the next succeeding month, the period expires
at the end of the latter month."
has continuously been taken by the Courts in India as the correct
definition of a 'month' which would mean that if the period of limitation
starts on, say 15th of a month, and the period of limitation is one
month, then the period of limitation would end on 14th of the succeeding
learned Counsel for the petitioners has relied on a judgment of this
Court in Mcmdhadi Ramcichandra Reddy v. Gopuinareddy Ram Reddy and
others, Cases on Dishonour of Cheques 1998 Edition Page 40 & 1997
(3) APLJ 18 (SN), which is not helpful to the petitioner because even
in that case similar method for calculation has been made. In that
case, notice has been served on 12-11-1994, the 15 days time would
end on 27th of November, 1994 and after that the complaint had been
filed within one month. The Court also held that the complaint could
have been filed by 27th December, 1994, as such in the present case
1 do not find that the complaint had been filed beyond time. Therefore,
this argument fails.
4. A judgment
of Supreme Court in Sadanandan Bhadran v. Madhavan Sunil Kumar, MANU/SC/0552/1998,
is also pressed into service which in fact goes against the argument
of the learned Counsel for the petitioners. While analysing Section
138 and 142 of the NI Act the Supreme Court laid down that, the period
of one month for filing the complaint would have to bar reckoned from
the day immediately following the day on which the period of fifteen
days from the date of the receipt of the notice by the drawer expires.
In the present cast, even according to the petitioners the period
of 15 days for notice ended on 14th January, 1997, as such the period
of limitation of one month would start from 15th of January, 1997
and would end on 14th February, 1997. The complaint has been filed
on 14th of February, 1997. However, this Court feels that, in the
present case the notice period would end on 15th January, 1997 and
the period of one month would start from 16th January, 1997 as such
the complaint would have been within time even on 15th February, 1997.
5. It was
also contended that there is no liability against the petitioners.
It is submitted that 9 cheques in ail were given and whole of the
amount was then paid and the receipts have been issued by the Company.
This is a matter which is purely factual and on this ground the complaint
cannot be quashed.
For these reasons, I do not find any merit in these petitions which
are accordingly dismissed.