Section 139 of the NI Act raises a presumption that a drawer handing over a check signed by him is liable unless it is proven by adducing evidence at the trial that the cheque was not in discharge of a debt or liability, according to the bench of Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna.

This case involves a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act of 1881, and the appellant is the complainant. He challenges the Single Judge’s decision to allow the respondents to consult a handwriting expert to see if the disputed check may be assigned to the respondents as “the authorship on the questioned letters.”

The applicants sought to have a government handwriting expert evaluate the first respondent’s handwriting, the specimen signature on the contested check, and the application before the Trial Judge. The Trial Judge rejected the application.

The High Court heard an appeal from the respondents. According to the High Court, there was insufficient justification to permit the investigation of a government handwriting expert. The Single Judge still granted the respondents’ appeal to the extent that they were allowed to hire a handwriting expert to examine the disputed “writings,” notwithstanding this.

The bench was asked to consider the following:

If the High Court was right to let the respondent hire a handwriting expert to check whether the information on the check was written by the respondent?

The bench noted that unless the drawer adduces evidence to dispute the assumption that the cheque has been issued towards payment of a debt or in the discharge of an obligation, a drawer who signs a cheque and turns it over to the payee is deemed to be responsible. Under Section 139, the presumption is created.



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