Section 141 of NI Act deals with offences by companies while extending the liability to every individual; who when the offence was committed was responsible for the conduct of the business which also extends towards key managerial positions like that of the Director. Section 141 of the NI Act reads as under: –
141. Offences by companies –
(1) If the person committing an offence under Section 138 is a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any person liable to punishment if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence: Provided further that where a person is nominated as a Director of a company by virtue of his holding any office or employment in the Central Government or State Government or a financial corporation owned or controlled by the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, he shall not be liable for prosecution under this Chapter.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where any offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to, any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
Explanation. – For the purposes of this section-
(a) “company” means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and
(b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.
A bare perusal of Section 138 and Section 141 of NI Act indicates that Section 138 of the NI Act casts criminal liability punishable with imprisonment for a term that may be extended to two years or with a fine that may extend to twice the amount of the cheque, or with both on a person who issues a cheque towards discharge of a debt or liability in whole or in part and the cheque is dishonoured by the bank on presentation. While Section 141 extends such criminal liability in case of a company to every person who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible for the conduct of the business of the company.