For fraudulently encashing a Rs 2,242.50 cheque in 1994, a man has now been asked by the Supreme Court to compensate with an amount of Rs 55 lakh, in the latest episode of curious cases in India. Mahendra Kumar Sharda had wrongfully cashed the Rs 2242.50 cheque 26 years ago, for which he has now been asked to cough up the huge amount — Rs 5 lakh as a penalty for clogging more than two decades of judicial processes and the court’s time, and an additional Rs 50 lakh in settlement to the complainant for the withdrawal of the criminal case.
Let us dive into the case and see what’s all this is about. Notably, Sharda and the complainant, Hari Om Maheshwari, happened to work together at the Delhi Stock Exchange till May 1992. Maheshwari filed an FIR with the Delhi Police against Sharda in 1997, alleging that a cheque of commission and brokerage amounting to Rs 2242.50 had somehow reached Sharda. According to the allegation, Sharda had then fraudulently opened a bank account in the name of Maheshwari’s firm to grab the cheque and encashed it.
Following this, the police had registered a fraud and forgery case against Sharda and taken action.
However, Sharda then filed a petition against the FIR in the Delhi High Court, initially arguing to dismiss the FIR but later agreeing to enter into a settlement agreement with the complainant, Maheshwari. But the Delhi High Court refused to dismiss the charges in the case in view of their serious nature.
Sharda had then filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict in which the accused told the Supreme Court that they had persuaded the complainant to accept Rs 50 lakh in lieu of the cheque of Rs 2242.50 and that both sides were ready to enter into an agreement.
However, the top court during the hearing asked the accused’s lawyer why it took more than two decades to settle the case and why precious legal time was wilfully lost in this while, which cannot be ignored. Under these charges, the accused has been asked to further provide an amount of Rs 5 lakh as compensation for wasting the court’s time.
During the hearing, the complainant was also present through video conferencing and agreed to drop all the criminal charges against the accused.
“We put to the counsel that more than two decades of judicial time has been utilised and only now the settlement is sought to be arrived at,” recorded the court order, adding the only explanation by the lawyer was that since it was in the nature of a private dispute between two individuals, the case can be put to rest after the settlement.
The Supreme Court has fixed September 15 as the date for hearing the Delhi Police and deciding upon the fate of the accused. The top court will on this day pronounce its verdict on the demand for cancellation of the FIR lodged against the accused.