Mere possession of counterfeit notes can’t be termed as offence

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai of Bombay High Court while hearing an appeal filed by one Munshi Mohammed Shaikh challenging a sessions court order of October 2013, convicting him under sections 489 (b)and 489 (c) of Indian Penal Code for possession of counterfeit notes and sentencing him to five years in jail observed that mere possession of counterfeit notes cannot be termed as an offence and prosecution is required to prove that the person had knowledge that the notes were fake, the Bombay High Court has set aside the conviction and five year sentence awarded to a man.

Based on such observation, Bombay High Court has set aside the conviction and five year sentence awarded to Munshi Mohammed Shaikh. Court further observed that, mere possession of counterfeit notes cannot be termed as an offence and prosecution is required to prove that the person had knowledge that the notes were counterfeit. While considering the facts and circumstances of the case, court was of the opinion that the prosecution had not adduced any evidence to prove that the accused had knowledge or that he had reason to believe that the notes were counterfeit.

Court noted that, the evidence adduced by the prosecution does not indicate that the colour and texture of the notes were different or that the difference was so apparent that a mere look at the notes would convince a lay man that it was counterfeit. In the absence of any such evidence, it cannot be presumed that the accused had knowledge that the notes were counterfeit.

Quick Reference

Section 489 B: Using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes —Whoever sells to, or buys or receives from, any other person, or otherwise traffics in or uses as genuine, any forged or counterfeit currency note or bank note, knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 489 C: Possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes — Whoever has in his possession any forged or counterfeit currency note or bank note, knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit and intending to use the same as genuine or that it may be used as genuine, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

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