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The Delhi High Court has sought Reserve Bank of India's response in a petition concerning the fate of an expired bank cheque which could not be processed by the bank on account of it being sealed due to COVID-19. (Abhinav Chawla vs RBI & Ors)
The Petitioner had deposited a cheque of Rs 10 lakh with an HDFC Bank Branch on April 8, during the validity of the cheque.
The cheque was scheduled to expire on April 16.
In the meantime, the bank where the cheque was deposited was sealed by the District Administration on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 18, the Petitioner received an email from HDFC Bank, which stated that the cheque had returned with the remark ‘instrument stale’.
It was the Petitioner's stance that when he had deposited the cheque within the statutory period, he could not be penalised on account of the inability of the bank to present the cheque on time.
The Petitioner has brought to the Court's attention that at present, there are no guidelines/regulations by the Reserve Bank of India or by the Central Government with respect to the future of instruments that have expired on account of the lockdown.
On May 19, the Court had issued notice to RBI, Centre and HDFC Bank, seeking their response.
When the matter was taken up on May 28, RBI stated that it was unable to give any relief to the Petitioner in view of the statutory provisions.
Since no reply had been filed in the matter, a single Judge Bench of Justice Jayant Nath granted time to RBI to do the same.
In the meantime, the Petitioner has been directed to implead the drawer of the cheque and the bankers of the drawer, namely, Yes Bank, to the Petition.
The matter would be heard next on June 30.
The Petitioner as represented by Advocate Adhish Srivastava.
RBI was represented by Advocate Nisha Sharma.
Read the Order: