Absence of salutation like ‘Mr.’ and ‘M/s.’ whilst drawing cheque is no ground to file charge under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881: Justice P. Gopinath

In the case N. Raveendran v. Shahajan & Anr. (2021) CRL. A. 1344/ 2006, Justice P. Gopinath of the Kerala High Court adjudicated the judgement dated May 04, 2006, from the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Muvattupuzh (CC. 453/ 2004) under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The appellant is a managing partner of ‘Lakshmi Finance,’ wherein the accused was charged under Section 138 (Dishonour of Cheque for insufficient funds in the account of the person drawing the Cheque); however, the Magistrate Court acquitted the accused because the cheque in question was drawn in favour of ‘Lakshmi Finance’ and not ‘M/s. Lakshmi Finance,’ wherein the registered name of the partnership firm is ‘M/s. Lakshmi Finance’.

Justice P. Gopinath held that the ‘M/s.’ is the short form of ‘Messrs’, wherein the salutation refers to a partnership firm, incorporated by a group of persons. The judge quashed the previous judgement by saying that the absence of ‘M/s.’ in the cheque cannot be grounds for acquittal of the accused because the absence of a salutation to a person/ entity is not a valid ground to acquit an accused under Section 138 of the act. The judge directed the appellant to move to the Magistrate Court of Muvattupuzh to dispose of the case in accordance with law by issuing fresh summons to the 1st respondent (the accused).

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