FAMOUS CASES ON NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS ACT*
LIABILITY OF PAYING BANKER WHEN CUSTOMER’S SIGNATURE ON CHEQUE IS FORGED 1. When the customer’s signature on the cheque is forged there is no mandate to the bank to pay. As such a banker is not entitled to debit the customer’s account on such forged cheque. In Canara Bank vs. Canara Sales Corporation and Others [(1987)2 Supreme Court Cases 666] the company has a current account with the bank which was operated by the Company’s Managing Director. The Company’s account in whose custody the cheque book was, forged the signature of the Managing Director in 42 Cheques totaling Rs.326047.92 over a period of time. This was detected by another accountant. The company immediately on detected of the fraud demanded the amount from the bank. The bank refused payment and therefore the company file a suit against the bank. The bank lost the suit and took the matter up to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the bank and held that: Since the relationship between the customer and the bank is that of a creditor and debtor, the bank had no authority to make payment of a cheque containing a forged signature. The bank would be acted against the law in debiting the customer with the amount of the forged cheque as there would be no mandate on the bank to pay. The Supreme Court pointed out that the document in the cheque form on which the customer’s name as drawer was forged was a mere nullity. The bank would succeed only when it would establish adoption or estoppel. In dealing the case the Supreme Court relied on its earlier judgment in Bihta Cooperative Development and Cane Marketing Union Ltd vs. bank of Bihar (AIR 1967 Supreme Court 389). 2. In a joint account if one of the signature is forged then there is no mandate and banker cannot make payment. In Bihta Cooperative Development and Cane Marketing Union Ltd vs. bank of Bihar, the Cooperative Marketing Union had an account with the bank which was authorized to be operated by Joint Secretary and Treasure of the Cooperative Marketing Union. On 16, April 1948 the bank made payment of Rs.11000 on a loose leaf cheque and not on a cheque from in cheque book to the Society. Though the two signature appeared on the cheque one of them, the signature of the Joint Secretary was forged. The bank made payment, whereupon the Cooperative Marketing Union sued the bank for recovery of the money. Though the bank admitted negligence on its part, it argued that the employees of the Cooperative Marketing Union were dishonest in the discharge of their duties and as such it cannot succeed. The matter went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court while allowing the case of the Cooperative Marketing Union held that “one of the signatures was forged so that there never was any mandate by the customer at all to the banker and the question of negligence of the customer in between the signature and the presentation of the cheque never arose”. PAYMENT TO BE IN DUE COURSE FOR BANK TO SEEK PROTECTION
1. The Supreme Court in Bank of Bihar vs. Mahabir Lal (AIR 1964 Supreme Court 397) held that a banker can seek protection under Section 85 only where payment has been made to the holder, his servant or agent i.e payment must be made in due course. In this case the Bank had agreed to grant to the firm cash credit facility against pledged of cloth bales on the firm fulfilling certain conditions, one of which was that the money for purchasing the cloth would not be directly given to the firm, but instead the supplier would be paid the amount by the bank and the cloth bales would be kept by the bank as pledge for the loan. The firm thereafter was required to draw a cheque on itself which was handed over to the bank. The bank instead of handing over cash to the firms partner, to be paid over to the wholesalers it with one of the bank’s employees (Potdar) who accompanied the partner to the wholesales. However, before the money could be paid to...
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