Punishment for Counterfeiting currency-notes or bank-notes in India
(2) Knowingly using as genuine or otherwise trafficking in forged or counterfeit currency-note or bank-notes —Imprisonment for life or imprisonment upto 10 years and fine (Section 489-B).
(3) Possession with knowledge of such notes for such use, etc. —Imprisonment upto 7 years or fine or both (Section 489-C).
(4) Making or possessing instruments or materials for forging or counterfeiting currency-notes or bank-notes—Imprisonment for life or upto 10 years and fine (Section 489-D).
(5) Making or causing to be made or using or delivering documents resembling currency-notes or bank-notes—Fine upto Rs. 100 (Section 489-E).
A person is said to “counterfeit” who causes one thing to resemble another thing, intending by means of that resemblance to practise deception or knowing it to be likely that deception will thereby be practised.
(i) It is not essential to counterfeiting that the imitation should be exact; and (ii) when a person causes one thing to resemble another thing, and the resemblance is such that a person might be deceived thereby it shall be presumed until the contrary is proved that the person who caused that thing to resemble another, intended by means of that resemblance to practise deception, or knew that deception would thereby be practised (Section .28).
In this connection a very interesting question arose before the Kerala High Court where a very narrow interpretation was given to the ‘currency notes’ and it was held that Indian law does not make counterfeiting of currency notes of any country in the world, other than that of India, an offence. On appeal the Supreme Court remarked that the High Court has persuaded itself by a process of judicial activism in a reverse gear. Having X-rayed the relevant provisions the Court observed as under:
“This analysis (of Sections 498-A, B, C and Section 28 and Explanation appended to it reveals that the legislative embargo against counterfeiting develops and takes within its sweep ‘currency notes’ of all countries.
The embargo is not restricted to ‘Indian currency notes’………. The expression ‘currency note’ is ‘large enough in its amplitude to cover the currency notes of ‘any’ country …….. The manifest purpose of the provision is that the citizens should be protected from being deceived or cheated.
It is inconceivable why the legislature should be anxious to protect citizens from being deceived or cheated only in respect of Indian currency notes and not in respect of currency notes issued by other sovereign powers………. It would be unwise to do so in the face of the internal evidence which provides a clue to the legislative anxiety on this score.
In fact the framers of the Code were so anxious to protect the general public from fraudulent acts of counterfeiters that not only have they defined the word ‘counterfeit’ in very wide terms in the Penal Code (i.e., in Section 28), but they have also prescribed a rule of evidence in Explanation 2 so as to draw an adverse presumption against the maker of the counterfeit article, as is evident from the definition, of the term ‘Counterfeit’ read with the Explanation in Section 28 of the Indian Penal Code”.
The Supreme Court also pointed out that after the judgment of Kerala High Court the counterfeiters all over the world must be singing in ecstasy:
“if there is heaven on earth, it is here, here, here” For it issues ‘a carte blanche to the counterfeiters of the world to establish their headquarters within the State of Kerala with a view to carry on their activities with impunity under the umbrella unwittingly opened for them by the judgment of the High Court”.