Evening digest: Changes in cheque bounce laws come into effect

GN Bureau | January 6, 2016



The government has notified the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which allows filing of cheque bounce cases in a court at the place where it was presented for clearance and not the place of issue. The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was passed by Parliament in its recently-concluded winter session. "The provisions of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015 shall be deemed to have come into force on the 15th Day of June, 2015, the day on which the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 was promulgated to further amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881," the finance ministry said. There are an estimated 18 lakh cheque bounce cases across the country, of which about 38,000 are pending in high courts. Some litigants have to travel to different places from where the cheques were issued and not honoured.

The law provides that cases of bouncing of cheques can be filed only in a court in whose jurisdiction the bank branch of the payee (person who receives the cheque) lies. It will also result in fast prosecution of offenders. The legislation also mandates centralisation of cases against the same drawer. The Act has also repealed an ordinance which was re-promulgated earlier. The President had promulgated the ordinance twice - in June and September last year. "The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2015 is focused on clarifying the jurisdiction related issues for filing cases for offence committed under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881," the statement said. The clarification of jurisdictional issues may be desirable from the equity point of view as this would be in the interests of the complainant and would also ensure a fair trial. Further, the clarity on jurisdictional issue for trying the cases of cheque bouncing would increase the credibility of the cheque as a financial instrument. "This is expected to help the trade and commerce in general and allow the lending institutions, including banks, to continue to extend financing to the productive sectors of economy, as the process of pursuing the cheque bouncing cases relating to loan default has been made simpler and efficient...," it added. Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 deals with the offence pertaining to dishonor of cheque on account of insufficiency of funds in the drawer's account.

3 HMT units to be shut, VRS to employees
Government on Wednesday decided to close three unviable units of HMT including the once popular HMT Watches, along with HMT Chinar Watches and HMT Bearings, by offering an “attractive” voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to the employees as per 2007 pay scales. “With a cash assistance of Rs 427.48 crore, the three loss making subsidiaries of HMT Ltd, namely HMT Watches, HMT Chinar Watches and HMT Bearings will attain closure after separation of about a thousand employees through attractive VRS/VSS and settlement of their dues,” an official statement said. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi. The CCEA has “given its approval for offering attractive VRS/VSS packages at 2007 pay scales to mitigate the hardships being faced by the employees of HMT Watches, HMT Chinar Watches and HMT Bearings and close their operations,” the statement said.The CCEA had approved the individual closure proposal of Tungabhadra Steel last month.

The cabinet today approved the “Stand Up India Scheme” to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and Women entrepreneurs. The Scheme is intended to facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch, on an average one for eachcategory of entrepreneur. It is expected to benefit atleast 2.5 lakh borrowers. The expected date of reaching the target of at least 2.5 lakh approvals is 36 months from the launch of the Scheme. It also approved for the creation of a Credit Guarantee Fund for Micro  Units  Development  Refinance  Agency  (MUDRA)  loans and to convert MUDRA Ltd. into MUDRA Small  Industries  Development  Bank  of  India (SIDBI)  Bank as a wholly owned subsidiary of SIDBI. The Fund is expected to guarantee more than Rs 1,00,000 crore worth of loans to micro and small units in the first instance.

India to implement BS-VI norms from April 2020
In a bid to curb vehicular pollution, the government on Wednesday decided to implement stricter emission norms of Bharat Stage (BS) VI from April 1, 2020, by skipping BS-V altogether. The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, which was attended by Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. “Government has decided to leapfrog from BS-IV to BS-VI directly by April 1, 2020. We have decided to skip BS-V emission norms. It is a bold decision and a commitment to environment,” Gadkari said. All the other ministries have assured cooperation to make the implementation successful, he added. At present, BS-IV auto fuels are being supplied in whole of northern India, parts of Rajasthan and western UP. The rest of the country has BS-III grade fuel.
 
Sanjay Dutt to be released on February 27
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, currently lodged in Pune’s high-security Yerawada Central Prison, will walk out of jail on February 27. The Maharashtra government has cleared a proposal for remission of his sentence. Dutt is being given remission as per the jail manual after clearance from the Home department. Minister for state (home) Ranjit Patil signed the file allowing Dutt’s release, without penalising him for reporting late from his furlough in January 2015. The 56-year-old actor is serving his five-year jail term after conviction in the 1993 bomb blasts case. He was convicted in 2007 by a special TADA court under the Arms Act for illegal possession of arms and sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment. The actor had spent 18 months in jail in 1996 after his arrest.
 
Ratan Tata invests in start-up market research platform Tracxn
Chairman Emeritus of Tata Group has made yet another investment, this time in a start-up intelligence and market research platform, Tracxn. Tata is known to have made an undisclosed amount of investment in the company. He had recently invested in an online pet shop called DogSpot.in. Tracxn also counts Flipkart's Sachin and Binny Bansals as investors and have also raised nearly $3.5 million in a series A funding from SAIF Partners early last year. Tracnx has been co-founded by ex-Sequoia Capital Neha Singh and ex-Accel Partners Abhishek Goyal.

BJP MLA Shamik Bhattacharya debarred from visiting village in Malda riots
A BJP delegation led by Shamik Bhattacharya, its lone MLA in West Bengal Assembly, was not allowed to visit Kaliachak village, about 30 km from here, which had witnessed violence on Sunday. A 25-member delegation led by Bhattacharya was detained by the police and taken to the local police station. But they were released in about ten minutes. The delegation was requested by the police not to visit the village in view of the law and order situation. Later, Bhattacharya told reporters that they wanted to visit the village to know about the exact reason of the Sunday's incident but was not allowed to go. Bhattyacharya also said he had received a phone call from the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while he was sitting in the police station. He however, declined to divulge the content of their conversation.

Aam Aadmi Party was the most hated political party in 2015
Though it is hard to digest but it's true – Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was the most hated political party in India in the bygone year 2015. As per 'The Goonj India Index 2015: 7 Deadly Indian Sins' report, Delhi's ruling party (AAP) topped the list with a score of 1.45 GPM where 1 GPM is equal to an estimated reach of 100K on digital media. AAP was closely followed by the Indian National Congress with a score of 1.35 GPM. With a score of 1.33 GPM, Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena came third on the list and its ally BJP, which is currently ruling at the Centre, was the fourth most hated party with a score of 0.27 GPM.

The BJP was followed by Lalu Yadav’s RJD (0.15 GPM), Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (0.13 GPM) and Sharad Pawar-led NCP with a score of 0.09 GPM. The Goonj India Index - an annual chronicle of what Indians were most interested in, most searched for and most talked about on digital platforms - found that most number of user generated content with negative mood on the Internet was for AAP in 2015.
 
MP’s complaint against Rahul goes to ethics panel
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has referred BJP MP Mahesh Giri’s complaint on Congress vice-president and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi’s alleged British citizenship to the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha, headed by BJP veteran L.K. Advani.The complaint was made after senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy produced documents — two annual tax returns that showed Mr. Gandhi claiming British citizenship, in 2005 and 2006, after he had registered a company in that country under the name of Backops Limited.

Letter to Speaker

Giri then wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker that the charge be examined by a parliamentary committee as it violated several sections of the Representation of the People Act that codify rules under which a person can be elected to the Lok Sabha. Indian citizenship is mandatory.

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