Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 – Section 139 raises the presumption “unless the contrary is proved”. Once the complainant discharges the burden of proving that the instrument was executed by the accused; the presumption under Section 139 shifts the burden on the accused. The expression “unless the contrary is proved” would demonstrate that it is only for the accused at the trial to adduce evidence of such facts or circumstances on the basis of which the burden would stand discharged. These are matters of evidence and trial. [Para 53]
Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 – Liability arising from the settlement agreement – the determination of whether a cheque pursuant to a settlement agreement arises out of a legal liability would be dependent on various factors, such as the underlying settlement agreement, the nature of the original transaction and whether an adjudication on the finding of liability was arrived at in the original complaint, the defence raised by the accused, etc.
The Single Judge was in error in proceeding to quash the criminal complaint on a priori reasoning that the second set of cheques issued in pursuance of the deed of compromise were not in discharge of a liability and on that basis proceeding to quash the proceedings under Section 482 CrPC. The mere fact that a suit has been instituted before the Madras High Court challenging the deed of compromise would furnish no justification for exercising the jurisdiction under Section 482. The deed of compromise would continue to be valid until a decree of the appropriate court setting it aside is passed. The High Court, as we have explained above, has failed to notice the true meaning and import of the presumption under Section 139 which can only be displaced on the basis of evidence adduced at the trial.
Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 – Liability arising from the settlement agreement.
A submission was urged by the appellants that in the event the second complaint is found to be non-maintainable and the compromise deed is held to be invalid, they would be left remediless and thus, the first trial should be allowed to continue. We do not find any merit in this submission. In the event that the compromise deed is found to be void ab initio on account of coercion, the very basis for quashing of the first complaint is removed since the settlement agreement is deemed to have never existed and hence it had no effect on the liability subsisting under the first complaint. The appellants may then approach the competent court for reinstatement of the original complaint and the trial can proceed on that basis.