Section 143A, The NI Act

With effect from 01.09.2018, Section 143A was inserted in The Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 by Amendment Act No. 20/2018. We are concerned in the present case only with the issue regarding applicability of said Section 143A to offences under Section 138, committed before the insertion of said Section 143A.

Section 143A not only creates a new disability or an obligation but also exposes the accused to coercive methods of recovery of such interim compensation through the machinery of the State as if the interim compensation represented arrears of land revenue. The coercive methods could also, as is evident from provision like Section 183 of The Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, in some cases result in arrest and detention of the accused. It must be stated that prior to the insertion of Section 143A there was no provision on the statute book whereunder even before the pronouncement of the guilt of an accused, or even before his conviction for the offence in question, he could be made to pay or deposit interim compensation.

In our view, the applicability of Section 143A must be held to be prospective in nature and confined to cases where offences were committed after the introduction of Section 143A, in order to force an accused to pay such interim compensation.

Section 148 depends upon the existing machinery and principles already in existence and does not create any fresh disability of the nature similar to that created by Section 143A. Therefore, Surinder Singh Deswal, (2019) 8 SCALE 445 stands on a different footing.

In the ultimate analysis, we hold Section 143A to be prospective in operation and that the provisions of said Section 143A can be applied or invoked only in cases where the offence under Section 138 of the Act was committed after the introduction of said Section 143A in the statute book.”

Hon’ble Justice U.U. Lalit, G.J. Raja v. Tejraj Surana, [Criminal Appeal No. 1160 of 2019].