Apex court rejects Subhikshas plea

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 24 2012, 07:32am hrs
Criminal proceedings initiated against cash-strapped retail chain Subhiksha Trading Services and its managing director R Subramanian by HDFC Bank in a cheque bounce case will continue after the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the companys plea seeking quashing of the proceedings before a Chennai court.

The apex court bench headed by Justice HL Dattu dismissed as withdrawn the Subhiksha' s plea saying that in such cases when the company commits any offence, then they raise such "type of technicalities" in the courts.

Subhiksha, which was forced to shut all of its stores following a cash crunch, has since been the target of a series of litigations, mostly filed by lenders and investors. The troubled retail chain owes more than R750 crore to 13 banks. Even the Madras High Court on March 1 had ordered the winding up of the company after a winding-up petition was filed by Kotak Mahindra Bank, to which Subhiksha owes around R40 crore.

HDFC in the present case had filed a complaint against Subhiksha and Subramanium in a Chennai magistrate court after two cheques worth R30 crore had bounced in February last year. Troubled retail chain had challenged the High Courts another judgment of November last year that refused to quash of the criminal proceedings initiated by the bank before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Saidapet, Chennai.

On the date of issuance of the cheques, the bank has advanced loan to the tune of R175 crore. In lieu of partial discharge of its loan dues at the time of the sanctioning in February 2010, Subhiksha through its managing director had given undated cheques and had authorised the HDFC Bank to fill in the date and the amount on the cheques and to present the same for payment.

However, the cheques were dishonoured for want of sufficient funds, thus forcing HDFC Bank to file complaints against the firm and the managing director under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act for recovery of its dues.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for the sick company, argued that since date in the cheques had not been filled up and only the filling up of amount and signature had been made by the managing director, the complainant was not entitled to file the complaints on the basis of the past consideration and it was a time barred one.