Complaint signed by power of attorney valid in law: Bench
CHENNAI: In cases concerning dishonoured cheques ("cheque bounce" cases), the complaint is maintainable and not bad in law even if it is signed by the power of attorney in his own name, the Madras High Court has ruled.
Settling this question of law pertaining to complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, a Division Bench comprising Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice S. Manikumar said: "A complaint signed by the power of attorney in his name, though not on behalf of the complainant, is maintainable and valid in law. The power of attorney has the authority to act on behalf of the principal and the acts done by him in exercise of that authority are protected even if done in his own name."
The Bench further pointed out that Section 2 of the Powers of Attorney Act made it clear that the power of attorney could execute or do any instrument in his "own name and signature, and his own seal, and every instrument and thing so executed and done, shall be effectual in law as if it had been executed or done by the donee of the power."
The Bench was dealing with the matter after a single judge referred it to a larger bench, in order to decide three questions.
Answering the second question, the Bench held that it was not required to record the sworn affidavit of the complainant also on a future date to enable the court to exercise its discretion. It referred to Supreme Court rulings and said whatever a person can do himself, he can do through an agent, and that when a person authorises another to sign for him, the signature of the person so signing is the signature of the person authorising it.
They then said it was "unwarranted and unnecessary" to mandate personal appearance of the complainant and to examine him on oath. "It would only be an additional burden to the magistrates and, therefore, is not warranted," the Bench said.
As regards the third question of law, the Judges ruled that even if the general power of attorney, at initial stage, failed to produce the deed or affidavit in proof of execution of the power, it can be rectified by producing it at a later stage of the proceedings. It shall be done as and when the validity of the power is questioned by the accused.
The court could then be called upon to decide the genuineness or the validity of the power, they said.
"Law is clear"
Barring certain exceptions such as the act to be performed is personal in character or annexed to a public office, the law is clear that whatever a person can do for himself he can do it through an agent, the Judges reasoned.
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Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Madras HC: Complaint signed by power of attorney valid in law
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