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When can I file complaint in cheque bounce case

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When can I file a complaint about the offence of dishonour of cheque? Dishonouring of a cheque for insufficiency of the fund in the account is generally called bounce of cheque. Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act 1881 envisages bounce of cheque is an offence and also provides punishment for the offence of cheque bounce.

For the initiation of a criminal proceeding for the commencement of offence it is required to make a complaint within the limitation period. No FIR shall be lodged for the offence punishable under section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act 1881. FIR is lodged, under section 154 of the code of criminal procedure 1973, only in respect of the commencement of cognizable offence.

Dishonour of cheque is a cognizable offence but according to section 142 of the Negotiable Instrument Act 1881, no court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under section 138 except upon a complaint.
The complaint shall be made after the commencement of offence. The offence of dishonour of cheque has been committed when drawee of the cheque is failed to make payment of the amount to the payee.

There are three stages to be fulfilled before the filing of the complaint. First, the cheque should be presented within a period of three months from the date on which it is drawn or within the period of its validity.
Second, when the payee receives information of dishonour of cheque for the reason of insufficient fund or any other reason, he should make a demand for the payment of the said amount of money by giving a notice in writing to the drawer of the cheque within 30 days of the receipt of information from the bank.

Third, after giving a demand notice to the drawer of the cheque for the payment of the said amount of money the payee should wait for 15 days for fulfilment of that demand. The offence is said to be committed if drawer fails to make the payment of the said amount of money within 15 days of the receipt of the said notice.

That 15 day is the waiting period for the fulfilment of the demand for money. No complaint shall be filed unless these 15 days has elapsed. It may be possible that drawer can fulfil the demand on the last day of said period. Hence, no complaint can be filed within 15 days of the date of receipt of the notice.

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