The Gujarat high court has stated that only the person who signed the cheque which bounced is liable to be prosecuted under the Negotiable Instruments Act. A spouse cannot be prosecuted for issuing a bad cheque deeming him to be an associate; the law does not permit it.
The high court was dealing with the appeal of the husband who was being prosecuted for the bounced cheque signed by his wife. The court quashed the prosecution in the case, Harshad vs State of Gujarat, stating that even if the couple had a joint bank account, the signatory alone would be responsible. The law regarding vicarious liability of a company, which is a juristic person, and the officials of the corporate entity would not be applicable in this case.
The high court cited a few cases from Delhi and Haryana in which wives were prosecuted for bad cheque signed by their husbands, as they had joint accounts. Those high courts had stressed that only the signatory to the cheque is responsible, except in the case of directors and officials of companies who were in charge of the issuing cheques.