What are the effects of material alteration of cheque
What are the effects of material alteration of cheque

What are the effects of material alteration in cheque?

Meaning of material alteration in cheque?

Material alteration means to make alter or change some material parts of the instrument and try to make it a valid created with the purpose of the nature of that instrument.

Due to the effects of Material Alteration, the said instrument become a void. But one thing we should know that a material alteration is different from filling up a blank cheque by the payee or holder of the cheque.

But it is also noted that every changes to make in a cheque it not mean a material alteration. Only such type of changes that create negatively effect from another side it may be called material alteration.

As per the provision under section 87 of the negotiable instrument act 1881, it’s clearly defined that any material alteration of a negotiable instrument renders the same void which makes such alteration without consent of first parties.

Definition of material alteration:

The definition of material alteration is extracted here below.

Any material alteration of a negotiable instrument renders the same void as against anyone who is a party thereto at the time of making such alteration and does not consent thereto unless it was made in order to carry out the common intention of the original parties;

Alteration by indorsee – And any such alteration, if made by an indorsee, discharges his indorser from all liability to him in respect of the consideration thereof.

here is some object in the negotiable instrument act which is not considered as a material alteration like, 

S.20 Inchoate stamped instruments mean to fill an incomplete negotiable instrument.

S.49 Conversion of indorsement in blank into indorsement in full.

S.86 Parties not consenting discharged by qualified or limited acceptance.

S.125 Crossing after issue.

Effects of material alteration in cheque:

  • A drawer to voluntarily re-validate a negotiable instrument, including a cheque.

In the case of Veera Exports vs.T. Kalavathy the Supreme Court held that invalid cheque can be re-validated voluntarily by altering the dates, so as to give fresh life to cheques for another 6 months. A cheque which has become invalid because of the expiry of the stipulated period could be made valid by alteration of dates. There is no provision in the Negotiable Instruments Act or in any other law which stipulates that a drawer of a negotiable instrument cannot re-validate it. It is always open to a drawer to voluntarily re-validate a negotiable instrument, including a cheque,[1].

  • When the document itself is void, it cannot be held any legally recoverable debt on the basis of that document.

In the case of Ramchandran vs. K. Dineshan and another, the Kerala High Court observed that the basic principle of law is that any change in a written instrument which changes the legal identity or business character of the instrument, either in its terms or in the legal relationship of the parties to it, is a material alteration and such a change invalidates the instrument against the person not consenting to the change. This principle of law is essential to the integrity and sanctity of contracts. By alteration, the identity of the instrument is destroyed. So, the effect of making a material alteration on a negotiable instrument without the consent of the party bound under it is exactly the same as that cancelling the instrument,[2],

  • The date of the cheque was altered to make it post-dated cheque is amounts to material alteration.

In the case of M. B. Rajasekhar v. Savithramma, the Karnataka High Court held that date of cheque was altered to make it post-dated cheque handwriting in alteration of cheque did not match handwriting of drawer nor was it signed by her after said alteration held material alteration of date by drawer not proved, such instrument not worthy of reliance.[3],

  • Blank signed cheque leaf held, It cannot be said to be ‘cheque’ within the meaning of S. 6 of Act.

In the case of Nikhil P. Gandhi v. State of Gujarat and Anr. the Gujarat High Court held that when a signed blank cheque leaf is handed over, it can never be filled up and that if it is filled up it would amount to a material alteration within the meaning of using Section 87 of the N.I. Act does not stand to rhyme or reason. Similarly, the contention that Section 20 of the N.I. Act is applicable to an unfilled or blank cheque leaf also cannot be accepted. It would depend upon the facts of each case. Therefore, it is neither a case which attracts Section 87 of the N.I. Act nor is it a case where the complainant can rely upon Section 20 of the N.I. Act and contend that as a signed blank cheque leaf is given it gives an authority to fill up the same according to the whim and fancy of the payee.[4],

  • Date inserted later in instrument it amounts to material alteration.

In the case of Jayantilal Goel vs.Smt. Zubeda Khanum Andhra Pradesh High Court held that Where a look at the pro-note itself made it apparent that the date which was in a different ink, that is other than the ink that had been used for body of instrument, was a subsequent introduction into the document, the subsequent insertion would amount to “material alteration”. Further held that “Material alteration”, takes in not only a case where the certain thing which is already written has been altered or erased but also a new insertion. [5],


1.(2002(1) SCC 97)

2.2005 (1) KLT 353

3. 2012 (2) Crimes 41

4. 2016 CRI. L. J. 4338

5. AIR 1986 AP 120

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