Negotiable Instruments Act

Topics: Negotiable instrument, Promissory note, Bearer instrument Pages: 9 (2661 words) Published: December 16, 2012

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I MBA ‘b’
Surya Group of Institutions


The Negotiable Instruments Act was enacted, in India, in 1881. Prior to its enactment, the provision of the English Negotiable Instrument Act were applicable in India, and the present Act is also based on the English Act with certain modifications. It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act operates subject to the provisions of Sections 31 and 32 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. Section 31 of the Reserve Bank of India Act provides that no person in India other than the Bank or as expressly authorised by this Act, the Central Government shall draw, accept, make or issue any bill of exchange, hundi, promissory note or engagement for the payment ofmoney payable to bearer on demand. This Section further provides that no one except the RBI or the Central Government can make or issue a promissory note expressed to be payable or demand or after a certain time. Section 32 of the Reserve Bank of India Act makes issue of such bills or notes punishable with fine which may extend to the amount of the instrument. The effect or the consequences of these provisions are: 1. A promissory note cannot be made payable to the bearer, no matter whether it is payable on demand or after a certain time. 2. A bill of exchange cannot be made payable to the bearer on demand though it can be made payable to the bearer after a certain time. 3. But a cheque {though a bill of exchange} payable to bearer or demand can be drawn on a person’s account with a banker.

According to Section 13 (a) of the Act, “Negotiable instrument means a promissory note, bill of exchange or cheque payable either to order or to bearer, whether the word “order” or “ bearer” appear on the instrument or not.” In the words of Justice, Willis, “A negotiable instrument is one, the property in which is acquired by anyone who takes it bonafide and for value notwithstanding any defects of the title in the person from whom he took it”. Thus, the term, negotiable instrument means a written document which creates a right in favour of some person and which is freely transferable. Although the Act mentions only these three instruments (such as a promissory note, a bill of exchange and cheque), it does not exclude the possibility of adding any other instrument which satisfies the following two conditions of negotiability: 1. The instrument should be freely transferable (by delivery or by endorsement. and delivery) by the custom of the trade; and 2. The person who obtains it in good faith and for value should get it free from all defects, and be entitled to recover the money of the instrument in his own name.

A negotiable instrument has the following characteristics:
1. Property: The prossessor of the negotiable instrument is presumed to be the owner of the property contained therein. A negotiable instrument does not merely give possession of the instrument but right to property also. The property in a negotiable instrument can be transferred without any formality. In the case of bearer instrument, the property passes by mere delivery to the transferee. In the case of an order instrument, endorsement and delivery are required for the transfer of property.

2. Title: The transferee of a negotiable instrument is known as ‘holder in due course.’ A bona fide transferee for value is not affected by 5 any defect of title on the part of the transferor or of any of the previous holders of the instrument. 3. Rights: The transferee of the negotiable instrument can sue in his own name, in case of dishonour. A negotiable instrument can be transferred any number of times till it is at maturity. The holder of the instrument need not give notice of transfer to the party liable on the instrument to pay. 4. Presumptions: Certain...
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