Supreme Court Judgement on Presumption U/s 139 of the Negotiable Instruments Act: Blank Cheque Voluntarily Signed and Delivered by Drawer for Payment

The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment of ‘K. Ramesh Vs. K. Kothandaraman’, reiterated the legal position surrounding blank cheques issued voluntarily by the drawer. The Court emphasized that a blank cheque leaf, signed and handed over to the payee for payment, triggers the presumption under Section 139 of the Negotiable Instruments Act that it was issued in the discharge of a legally enforceable debt.


Presumption under Section 139 Negotiable Instruments Act:

The Court, relying on its earlier decision in ‘Bir Singh Vs. Mukesh Kumar (2019)’, held that the mere act of voluntarily signing and delivering a blank cheque towards payment invokes the presumption under Section 139. The presumption remains valid unless the accused provides cogent evidence to rebut it.


Reversal of High Court Finding:

In the case at hand, the High Court had allowed the accused drawer’s application for seeking a forensic opinion on the signature made on the blank cheque. However, the Supreme Court, comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and A.G. Masih, reversed this finding. The Court emphasized that once a blank cheque is issued for payment, a presumption arises regarding its validity, and it is the accused’s responsibility to displace this presumption.


Bir Singh Vs. Mukesh Kumar Judgment:

The Court reiterated the principles laid down in Bir Singh, emphasizing that even if a blank cheque is voluntarily signed and handed over for payment, the presumption under Section 139 holds, and in the absence of evidence showing otherwise, the presumption stands against the accused drawer.


Liability of Drawer and Validity of Cheque:

Quoting the Bir Singh judgment, the Supreme Court highlighted that a person who signs a cheque and delivers it to the payee remains liable unless evidence is adduced to rebut the presumption that the cheque was issued for payment of a debt or discharge of a liability. The Court clarified that the validity of the cheque is not affected even if it is filled in by a person other than the drawer, as long as it is duly signed by the drawer.


Background of the Case:

In the present case, the accused had not disputed signing the cheque. The dispute centred around the age of the ink used for the signature and the contents of the cheque. The accused sought a forensic opinion to compare the contents with the payee’s signature. While the Trial Court rejected the application for expert evidence, the High Court allowed it, directing forensic examination.


Supreme Court’s Decision:

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal by the appellant-drawee, setting aside the High Court’s order. The Court maintained that the accused’s voluntary act of handing over a blank cheque for payment triggers the presumption under Section 139, and in the absence of rebuttal evidence, the presumption stands.



This judgment reinforces the legal principles surrounding the presumption under Section 139 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, emphasizing that even a blank cheque, voluntarily signed and delivered for payment, carries the presumption of being issued in the discharge of a legally enforceable debt. The burden to rebut this presumption lies with the accused, and failure to provide cogent evidence may result in the presumption holding good against the drawer.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The content may not reflect the most current legal developments and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Readers should consult a qualified legal professional before taking any action based on the information provided. The authors and publishers disclaim any liability for any loss or damage incurred as a result of reliance on this article. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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