Sec 143A NI Act | If Accused has Failed To Deposit Interim Compensation He Can’t Be Denied Right To Cross-Examination: Supreme Court             

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that an accused who had failed to deposit interim compensation could be fastened with any other disability including denial of the right to cross-examine the witnesses.

The bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia stated that “if a statute prescribes a method or modality for the exercise of power, by necessary implication, the other methods of performance are not acceptable.”

In this case, an order was passed by the Trial Court directing the Appellant to deposit 20% of the cheque amount as interim compensation in terms of Section 143(A) of the Act within 60 days. The amount was not deposited by the Appellant.

An application was made on behalf of the Appellant under Section 145(2) of the Act seeking permission to cross-examine the Respondent. The complaint Case was accepted by the Trial Court finding the Appellant guilty under Section 138 of the Act. The appellant court and Karnataka HC upheld the order passed by the trial court.

Mr. Shailesh Madiyal, Counsel for the appellant submitted that in case the order of interim compensation as directed in terms of Section 143A of the Act is not complied with, the amount can be recovered in terms of Sub-Section 5 of said Section 143A as if it were a fine under Section 421 of the Code, but it would not be within the competence of the court to deprive an accused of his right to cross-examine a witness.

Mr. Anand Nuli, Counsel for the respondent submitted that orders passed by the courts below were consistent with the mandate of Section 143A and the right to cross-examine was rightly closed by the courts below.

The issue for consideration before the bench was:

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Whether the accused can be denied the right to cross-examine if he has failed to deposit interim compensation?

Supreme Court opined that the method and modality of recovery of interim compensation is clearly delineated by the Legislature. It is a well-known principle that if a statute prescribes a method or modality for the exercise of power, by necessary implication, the other methods of performance are not acceptable.

The bench stated that “The concerned provision nowhere contemplates that an accused who had failed to deposit interim compensation could be fastened with any other disability including denial of the right to cross-examine the witnesses examined on behalf of the complainant. Any such order foreclosing the right would not be within the powers conferred upon the court and would, as a matter of fact, go well beyond the permissible exercise of power.”

In view of the above, The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and directed to permit the Appellant to cross-examine the Respondent and then take the proceedings to a logical conclusion.

Case Title: Noor Mohammed v. Khurram Pasha

Bench: Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia

Citation: Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal)No. 2872 of 2022

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