Simply because a complaint is filed under sec 138 of the negotiable
instrument act 1881 does not mean that a person cannot be prosecuted under sec
420 of the Indian penal code. The proceedings under the Negotiable instrument
act are for the crimes of issuing the cheque without sufficient wants of the
funds while the proceedings under IPC is for the criminal intention of a person.
While prosecuting under sec 138 of negotiable instrument act factors like
fraudulent or dishonest intention at the time of issuing the cheque is not
required to be proved while prosecuting under sec 420 of IPC all such factors
are required to be proved because the punishment under this section is more
serious as well as longer which is punishable up to sentence of seven years.
Further it can be said that what is punishable under criminal law is the conduct
of the accused or the consequences arising from such conduct. If the fact or the
consequences of an act constitute more than one offence then the accused is
liable to be prosecuted and punished for all such offences whether such offences
are punishable under general penal law as contained in IPC or the same are
punishable under general criminal and special criminal law separately.
The mere fact that a conduct is punishable under special law is not the ground
to hold that such conduct cannot be punished under general criminal law.