Calcutta High Court rules that possession of Large quantity of Forged Indian Currency Notes amounts to trafficking

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Facts of the Case (CRA 562 of 2018 and CRA 592 of 2018)

The case rests on the appeal by two people, Jubeda Chitrakar and Sunil Pramanik, out of the five persons convicted under the sections 489B/34 and 489C/34 of the IPC in 2009. The two accused were held convicted under the following sentences to be run concurrently:

  1. 8 years imprisonment for “using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank-notes” (Sec 489B) and,
  2. 6 years imprisonment for “Possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank-notes”(Sec 489C)

The advocates on behalf of the appellants argued that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to charge them under Sec 489B and therefore sought to impeach the findings of the court in 2009.

The learned prosecution for the State stated that the “necessary ingredients of section 489B have been established over and above the…section 489C and hence, the appeals be rejected.” The prosecution argued that the raid and seizure of Forged Indian Currency Notes (FICN) at Ruby Hospital at bus-stand in front of ECTP on 30th August 2008 was based on secret source information.

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The seizures were witnessed by two individuals in the surrounding and were proved to the court. The articles seized as well as the testimony of policemen involved in the raid were proved to the court to be trustworthy. Another search and seizure were conducted on 3rd September 2008 and all the recovered articles were proved by following due process and avoiding any evidence tampering.

Arguments of the counsel on behalf of the Appellant

  • The learned counsel stated that the ‘possession by itself does not amount to the activities…under sec 489B of the IPC.” The aforementioned section is central to the appeal as the counsel argues lack of evidence to prove intent of transaction, as the section mentions, “whoever sells to, buys or receives from…or otherwise traffics…”
  • The learned counsel reads the decision of the Supreme Court in Parakh Foods Ltd vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr. (2008) 4 SCC 5844. The case stated that the term “traffics” had to be read as the same as the phrases “sells to, buys, or receives from…”
  • The aforementioned acts mentioned require the involvement of at least two people which cannot be proved in this case which helps the case of the appellants as they were taken into custody individually.

The Arguments Presented by the Prosecution

The prosecution revisited the case in question and offers the following arguments or dismissing the appeal:

  • The material witnesses corroborated the proceedings of the raid, search and seizure without any noticeable contradiction strong enough to subject it to further examination.
  • The police officers involved in the process have no reason to be hostile to the accused.
  • The mens rea, i.e. the intent or knowledge of possession of counterfeit currency was established through the fact that the appellants in the case made no specific statement regarding the possession of the FICN.
  • On the argument that the term “traffics” should be read as the same as “sells to, buys, or receives from…” the prosecution argued that the word “trafficking” is used for dealing in something illegal and any activity that falls within the category of “otherwise traffics in” does not require active participation of more than one person if a huge amount of FICN is discovered.
  • Moreover, the word ‘or otherwise’ usually means in contrast or opposite to the phrases stated before it. Therefore, in this case, the phrase “or otherwise traffics” should be taken in contrast to the phrase, “sells to, buys, or receives from…”
  • The counsel derives from the Rayab Jusab Sama vs the State of Gujarat, 1998 Cri LJ 942, and Shabbir Sheikh vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh Crl. Appl. Nos. 162, 452 and 453/2015 which upheld that possession of a large number of fake currency notes cannot be treated as dormant possession but active transportation that falls within the purview of Section 489B of the IPC.

The Judgement

Both the appellants; Sunil Parmanick was in possession of 27 pieces of 500-rupee fake notes, and a search at the Jubeda Chitrakar’s house led to the discovery of 20 pieces of 500 rupees and 5 pieces of 1000 rupee fake notes which can be categorized as a large number of fake currency notes. Hence, the possession of such large quantity of FICN in concealed manner amounts to trafficking and punishable under Section 489B of the IPC.

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Also, under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused have the right to defend their case. However, both the appellants offered no explanation regarding the possession of fake currency.

In light of the evidence presented, the Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the sentence imposed on the appellants.

[googlepdf url=”https://libertatem.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Calcutta-High-Court-rules-that-possession-of-large-quantity-of-FICN.pdf” download=”Download Judgement PDF” width=”100%” height=”900″]

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