Courts continue to struggle with the humongous pendency under Section 138 of The Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. Offences that are committed as part of the same transaction can be tried jointly as per Section 220 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. What is meant by ‘same transaction’ is not defined. Indeed, it would always be difficult to define precisely what the expression means. Whether a transaction can be regarded as the same would necessarily depend upon the particular facts of each case and it seems to us to be a difficult task to undertake a definition of that which the Legislature has deliberately left undefined. We have not come across a single decision of any Court which has embarked upon the difficult task of defining the expression. But it is generally thought, where there is proximity of time or place or unity of purpose and design or continuity of action in respect of a series of acts, it may be possible to infer, they form part of the same transaction. It is, however, not necessary every one of these elements should co-exist for a transaction to be regarded as the same. But, if several acts committed by a person show a unity of purpose or design that would be a strong circumstance to indicate those acts form part of the same transaction [State of Andhra Pradesh v. Cheemalapati Ganeswara Rao, (1964) 3 SCR 297]. There is no ambiguity in Section 220 in accordance with which several cheques issued as a part of the same transaction can be the subject matter of one trial.
– Five-Judge Bench, In Re: Expeditious Trial of Cases under Section 138 of The NI Act, [Suo Motu Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 2 of 2020.]