Cheque bounce case: HC upholds conviction of ex-Cong MP

Cheque bounce case: HC upholds conviction of ex-Cong MP

Madras High Court (File Photo)

Observing that a thief has not entitled to rob a dacoit, the Madras High Court has upheld a former Congress MP's jail term in a Rs 35 lakh cheque bounce case as it rejected his argument questioning the source of the funds loaned to him by a financier.

After having borrowed from "a compassionate harlot, can the borrower deny repayment on the ground she had earned the money immorally and illegally", Justice P N Prakash asked?

"The answer to this question can only be an emphatic 'no' and nothing else. In short, a thief is not entitled to legitimately rob a dacoit," the judge observed and confirmed the orders of the lower court sentencing former MP R Anbarasu.

Financier Mukunchand Bothra in his cheque bounce complaint had stated that Anbarasu, a founder trustee of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Educational Trust, had taken a loan of Rs 35 lakh in 2006 for various development works. He had issued a cheque for the amount to him, but it was returned by banks citing insufficient funds.

The trial court had convicted Anbarasu and P Mani, the managing trustee of the trust, for dishonouring the cheque issued by them for Rs 35 lakh towards repayment of the loan and sentenced them to two years imprisonment.

They filed revision petitions in the high court challenging the trial court order. The petitioners contended that the Rs 35 lakh was not disclosed by the financier in his income tax returns to the Income Tax Department, so there was no need to repay it.

Dismissing the petitions, the judge noted two promissory notes signed by Mani were executed by the trust in favour of Mukunchand and it was not their case they were intimidated to sign the papers.

"The accused in this case are not poor illiterates and bonded labourers hailing from a far-flung hamlet who have been caught in a debt trap set by an affluent Sowcar. Contrarily, Anbarasu is a frontline politician who has founded the Rajiv Gandhi Trust and wielded sufficient influence in the society," Justice Prakash said in Wednesday order.

Noting that the financier's son Gagan Bothra, had clearly explained that the other members of their family had pooled in resources to mobilise Rs 35 lakh, he rejected the petitioners' argument that Bothra had not produced his income tax returns to show that Rs 35 lakh was given as loan to the trust and had not paid tax for it so, the contract itself was void.

He also refused to accept the petitioner's counsel citing Supreme Court verdicts in support of their argument.

The apex court has not held as a thumb rule that the complainant should prove the debt beyond doubt by showing the source of income even though the execution of the cheque is admitted by the accused. It has not held so, nor will it hold so in the future as well, unless Section 139 of the Negotiable Instrument Act is amended or repealed, he said.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox