Mere Use Of Any Forged Or Counterfeit Currency Notes Or Bank Notes Not An Offence: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

Mere Use Of Any Forged Or Counterfeit Currency Notes Or Bank Notes Not An Offence: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

“When mens rea is conspicuously absent, mere use of any forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes cannot attract the provisions of Section 489(B). The essential ingredient of the said offence being that the person, who receives the notes has reason to believe that the said notes are forged or counterfeit.”

The Bombay High Court has quashed criminal prosecution against a woman from whom some counterfeit currency notes were found in the cash she had brought for depositing in the bank after demonetisation.

The bench comprising Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati H Dangre observed that mere use of any forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes cannot attract the provisions of Section 489(B), when mens rea is conspicuously absent.

Three notes of the denomination of Rs 1,000 and two notes of the denomination of Rs 500 i.e., the total amount of Rs 4,000 were found to be counterfeit and the bank had lodged the complaint and Sanskriti Jayantilal Salia was charged for offence under Section 489(B) of the Indian Penal Code.

It was her case that she deposited the old notes after they were demonetised by the Central Government and mere possession of some counterfeit notes would not attract the offence charged against her, without any evidence of ‘knowledge’.

The bench said: “Perusal of the said Section would reveal that mens rea is an essential ingredient of the said Section and use of the term “knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit” is the sine qua non for inviting penalty under the said provision. When mens rea is conspicuously absent, mere use of any forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes cannot attract the provisions of Section 489(B). The essential ingredient of the said offence being that the person, who receives the notes has reason to believe that the said notes are forged or counterfeit. The burden to prove beyond all reasonable doubt, that the accused had knowledge or reason to believe that the currency notes which were put to use / possessed by him were counterfeit or fake currency note is on the prosecution.”

The bench quashed the prosecution against her observing that it would be nothing but would amount to an abuse of process of law. It said: “In absence of any evidence brought on record   by   the   prosecution   as   a   part   of   charge­sheet   to demonstrate that possession of the Petitioner of the alleged currency notes which were deposited by her in the bank on 19th December, 2016 was with a knowledge that the same were counterfeit, Petitioner cannot tried for an offence under Section 489(B) in absence of any material to attribute such a knowledge on her part.”

Read the Judgment Here