Sec.138 and sec.141(2) -NO CRIMINAL CASE ONLY CIVIL CASE- the trade finance facility was extended by the Respondent No. 2 to the default Company during the period from 13th April, 2008 to 14th October, 2008, against which the Cheques were issued by the Company which stood dishonored. Much before that on 17th December, 2005 the appellant resigned from the Board of Directors. Hence, we have no hesitation to hold that continuation of the criminal proceedings against the appellant under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the N.I. Act is a pure abuse of process of law and it has to be interdicted at the threshold.& So far as the Letter of Guarantee is concerned, it gives way for a civil liability which the respondent No. 2-complainant can always pursue the remedy before the appropriate Court. So, the contention that the cheques in question were issued by virtue of such Letter of Guarantee and hence the appellant is liable under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the N.I. Act, cannot also be accepted in these proceedings. Putting the criminal law into motion is not a matter of course. To settle the scores between the parties which are more in the nature of a civil dispute, the parties cannot be permitted to put the criminal law into motion and Courts cannot be a mere spectator to it. Before a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence under Section 138/141 of the N.I. Act, making a person vicariously liable has to ensure strict compliance of the statutory requirements.- 2015 S.C. MSK LAW REPORTS 18

In the entire complaint, neither the role of the appellant in the affairs of the Company was explained nor in what manner the appellant is responsible for the conduct of business of the Company, was explained. From the record it appears that the trade finance facility was extended by the Respondent No. 2 to the default Company during the period from 13th April, 2008 to 14th October, 2008, against which the Cheques were issued by the Company which stood dishonored. Much before that on 17th December, 2005 the appellant resigned from the Board of Directors. Hence, we have no hesitation to hold that continuation of the criminal proceedings against the appellant under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the N.I. Act is a pure abuse of process of law and it has to be interdicted at the threshold.

We have also perused the copy of Annual Return filed by M/S Elite International Pvt. Ltd. for the year 2006, on 31st March, 2006 furnished in Form 20B as per Section 159 of the Companies Act, 1956. Column IV of Schedule V - Part II of the Annual Return, requires information regarding Directors/Manager/Secretary (Past and Present) in which against the name of Devidasani Ravinder Pooja-appellant it was mentioned "Date of ceasing : 17- 12-2005". Admittedly, a certified copy of the Annual Return became part of record. Hence, we are of the considered opinion that the factum of appellant resigning from the Board of Directors is established.

So far as the Letter of Guarantee is concerned, it gives way for a civil liability which the respondent No. 2-complainant can always pursue the remedy before the appropriate Court. So, the contention that the cheques in question were issued by virtue of such Letter of Guarantee and hence the appellant is liable under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the N.I. Act, cannot also be accepted in these proceedings.

Putting the criminal law into motion is not a matter of course. To settle the scores between the parties which are more in the nature of a civil dispute, the parties cannot be permitted to put the criminal law into motion and Courts cannot be a mere spectator to it. Before a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence under Section 138/141 of the N.I. Act, making a person vicariously liable has to ensure strict compliance of the statutory requirements. The Superior Courts should maintain purity in the administration of Justice and should not allow abuse of the process of the Court. The High Court ought to have quashed the complaint against the appellant which is nothing but a pure abuse of process of law.

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