There has been a long standing debate as to whether a cheque bounce is a ciivil or a criminal wrong.Since there is punishment prescribed in a 138 case, there is a tendency to conclude that the bouncing of a cheque is a criminal wrong.The Supreme Court has clarified that a cheque bounce is a civil wrong.

“This Court has noted that the object of the statute was to facilitate smooth functioning of business transactions. The provision is necessary as in many transactions’ cheques were issued merely as a device to defraud the creditors. Dishonor of cheque causes incalculable loss, injury and inconvenience to the payee, Banking, Public Financial Institutions and credibility of business transactions suffers a setback. At the same time, it was also noted that nature of offence under Section 138 primarily related to a civil wrong and the 2002 amendment specifically made it compoundable.” 

Supreme Court in Seshia vs State of Telangana on Feb1, 2023.


Sanjiv Narang Adv. is an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. His qualifications include an LLB from University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Personnel Management from Panjab University,Chandigarh.In his more than 3 decades of experience, he has practiced law at the District, High Court and Supreme Court levels.He also has more than a decade of experience in the field of Management. He is the author of two books namely Laws for Women in India and Innovation, Why What and How.