Mere possession of counterfeit notes not enough to establish guilt

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of S.P. Garg, J., allowed a criminal appeal, setting aside the conviction of the appellant under Section 489B and 489C of the IPC.

The appellant had been arrested on account of possessing and trying to use as genuine, some fake currency notes while buying from a shop. The appellant had pleaded innocence. The Court analyzed the circumstances surrounding the arrest and noted that the accused possessed 7 more Rs. 500/- denomination notes at the time of arrest out of which one more was counterfeit while the rest were genuine. The fake notes were such that they had to be tested with an instrument to establish that they were fake. The appellant had offered to switch the note he had given to the shopkeeper with any other note in his possession. Also, the appellant had not tried to run away. There were also discrepancies during the investigation and during the examination of witnesses.

The Court, while noted the settled position that mere possession of a counterfeit currency note is not enough to establish the guilt. Further, nothing had come on record to show that the appellant had reasons to believe that the note used by him was counterfeit. Presumption of knowledge from mere possession can only be drawn if the notes were apparently counterfeit. Further, the Court relied on the judgment in M.Mammutti v. State of Karnataka, (1979) 4SCC 723 : AIR 1979 SC 1705 to state that only if counterfeit notes are of such nature that mere look at that them would not convince a person that it is counterfeit then no presumption of knowledge can be attributed to the person merely possessing them. In the light of the above reasons, the appeal was allowed, sentence set aside. [Sunder Lal v. State Govt. of NCT of Delhi, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 9079, decided on 16-05-2018]

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