The Bombay high court (HC) recently granted bail to a 19-year-old man who was booked and arrested for allegedly possessing counterfeit notes. The Court held that mere possession of counterfeit notes does not mean that there was an intention of knowingly using the notes on the part of the accused and hence the charges under Section 489B (using as genuine, forged or counterfeit notes) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) doesn't apply to him.
A bench comprising of Justice Bharati Dangre, while hearing the bail application of a man named Vachkal, was informed by his advocate Murtuza Nazmi that his client had been booked and charge sheeted with two others for allegedly possessing counterfeit notes. Vachkal and others were booked under Sections 489B and other Sections of IPC.
According to the charge sheet, the anti-narcotic cell, Pune, had seized counterfeit notes of ₹500 and ₹2,000 denominations from the dashboard of a car during a raid. The officers found that Vachkal was in possession of three notes of ₹2,000 and one note of ₹500.The interrogation of the two arrested during the raid revealed name of the third person who was also later arrested but was granted default bail.
Nazmi submitted that prima facie the charge sheet against Vachkal doesn't contain any material to reflect the mens rea (criminal intent) on the part of the applicant who possessed the said notes, which are alleged to be counterfeit. In light of this, he sought bail for his client.
After hearing the submissions the court observed, “The applicant is merely found in possession of the counterfeit currency notes. The charge sheet did not contain any material to show that he was proposing to traffic or use the said notes as genuine or that he had knowledge or reason to believe that the said notes are forged or counterfeit. The applicant does not have any criminal antecedents and considering his young age, pending the trial, he cannot be incarcerated for long, particularly when on completion of investigation, the charge sheet has already been filed. He is, therefore, entitled to be released on bail.”