Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: S. Talapatra, J. allowed an appeal against the decision of the Sessions Judge whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 489-C (possession of forged or counterfeit currency-notes or banknotes) IPC.

The appellant was found in possession of 27 fake counterfeit Indian currency-notes. He was charged and convicted as stated above. H.K. Bhowmik, Advocate representing the appellant submitted that the seizure was not proved and the procedure of seizing the purported counterfeit currencies was visited by serious defects and incongruities. Per contra, A. Acharjee, Special Public Prosecutor appearing for the State submitted that on the discovery of minor discrepancy, considering the nature of human conduct, no weight should not be given.

After considering the evidence on record, the High Court went on to consider the question — whether there was any proof of integrity of the seized materials and chain of custody? The Court found that in the State Forensic Science Laboratory Report it was not at all noted as to how the purported counterfeit currency was received. Further, it could not be ascertained as to who had marked the bank notes as A-1 to A-27. Still, further, the seized counterfeit currency was not sealed within a packet in presence of witnesses. It was observed: “There is no evidence in relation to the chain of custody or the sampling in order to preserve the integrity of the seized materials. There is no evidence except the possession of the so-called ‘counterfeit currencies’. Even there is no evidence of mens rea. In absence of the evidence, mere possession, cannot prove that offence punishable under Section 489 of the IPC has been committed.”

In such view of the matter, the Court was of the opinion that the appellant was to be given benefit of doubt. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the impugned judgment was set aside.[Bishu Ranjan Das v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 200, decided on 24-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The appellant had filed this jail appeal before a Division Judge Bench comprising of Sudhir Agarwal and Om Prakash-VII, JJ., against his conviction and sentence order passed by Additional District Judge under Sections 489-B and 489-C IPC where he had to undergo imprisonment for life with fine, and imprisonment for 7 years with fine for the respective offence to be run concurrently.

Facts of the case were that the appellant was found to carry counterfeit currency for which he was brought before Sessions Court where prosecution proved charges against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant contended that minimum punishment for the offence under Section 489-B was 10 years and the imprisonment awarded to him was life imprisonment. He submitted that he was not a habitual offender and no other case was pending against him. It was pertinent to note the fact that the matter dates back to 2008 and he had already undergone imprisonment for more than 10 years. Whereas the respondent supported the findings of the trial court that the case to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. No leniency to the appellant was to be shown as per respondent as the crime was committed to jeopardize the economic condition of the country.

High Court found no reason to interfere with the finding that the case was proved against the appellant beyond the reasonable doubt and decided only on the sentence imposed upon the appellant. It was to be kept in mind that deciding sentence is a matter of discretion where punishment should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence. Therefore, appellant’s sentence for punishment under Section 489-B was decreased to 14 years imprisonment on the ground of the sentence passed by trial court being excessive, exorbitant and harsh with other punishment to remain intact. [Abdul Gaffar v. State,2018 SCC OnLine All 2759, Order dated 20-11-2018]