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Bachan Singh and anr. Vs. the State of Punjab - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1982CriLJ32
AppellantBachan Singh and anr.
RespondentThe State of Punjab
Cases ReferredBur Singh v. The Crown
Excerpt:
.....use the notes on the public as has been held in bur singh v. 2 and he told her that it was not a genuine note and his belief was confirmed when he showed it to others as well. it has nowhere been asserted that the note was ever returned to her and having known fully well or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit she yet made another attempt to palm it off. 2, that there is an open trade going about these notes for they ultimately can be cashed with the reserve bank of india and in some cases subject to charges being paid by local banks also in other word though they are not legal tender but these notes have some apparent but depreciated value the possibility cannot be ruled out that the possession of such notes with the appellant was for the purpose of such..........he gave his report ex- hibit p. d. the following extracts of his statement may be taken note of:forged currency notes can also be prepared with certain dye, with a mechanical process. there are other made up notes which are also forged. the made up notes can also resemble the true notes. i have seen ten rupee note ex. p. 1. if this note is given to an average man along with other currency notes, it can pass as a genuine note. an illiterate person can also be misled when such a note is given to him. if note ex. p. 1, is presented to the bank only with portion a to a or b to b, the bank will not change it. the bank cannot accept torn currency notes or in pieces. i have seen currency notes exs. p. 1, p. 25 to p. 33, these notes bear different nos. these are not genuine notes. these are.....
Judgment:

M.M. Punchhi, J.

1. This is an appeal by Bachan Singh, an iron-smith and his wife Joginder Kaur, an illiterate lady, both residents of Ludhiana.

2. The facts as found by the trial Judge and which are not seriously disputed in the present appeal are thus:

On 17-6-1978, Kundan Lai, P.W. 1, was approached, by Jogisder Kaur appellant with a ten rupee currency note, Exhibit P. 1, asking for its change. He checked the note in the light and observed that the note had one side darker than the other. He suspected it not to be genuine. His suspicion was confirmed by his son Vishwa Nath and his neighbouring shop-keeper Dalip Singh P.W. 3. 1982 Cri, L. J./3 I

In the meantime the police party headed by Assistant Sub-Inspector Jagjit Singh, P.W. 4, reached there, Kundan Lai, P.W. 1, made statement Exhibit P. C. to the Assistant Sub-Inspector which became the basis of the first information report. At that time Bachan Singh appellant was with his wife. The Assistant Sub-Inspector arrested both the accused and on personal search of Bachan Singh thirteen counterfeit currency notes, Exhibits P. 2 to P. 14 and other 21 ten rupee notes were recovered. These facts stood supported on the evidence of Kundan Lai, P.W. 1, Dalip Singh, P.W. 3 and Assistant Sub-Inspector Jagjit Singh, P.W. 4, whose statements have been relied upon by the trial Judge in recording the order of conviction.

3. The defence is at variance. According to Joginder Kaur, she alone was in the bazaar and had approached Kundan Lai, P. W, 1 offering him the note, Exhibit P. 1, for change since she had to pay rickshaw fare. Kundan Lai, P.W. 1, told her that the note was not genuine and then she offered another note. On this there was an altercation and she was taken to the police station and falsely implicated. Bachan Singh appellant claimed that when his wife was in the police station he was present in his house when Assistant Sub-Inspector Jagjit Singh, P.W. 4 and some constables came there, demanded of him Rs, 200/- to secure release of his wife and on his disinclination beat him, took away Rs. 1400/- from his box lying in his house and then he was falsely involved in the case. He got himself medically examined. He even filed a complaint against Assistant Sub-Inspector Jagjit Singh in which the latter was summoned. Exhibit D. A. was a copy of the complaint. The defence was rejected by the trial Judge.

4. Joginder Kaur was convicted:

(i) Under Section 420/511, Indian Penal Code for attempting to cheat Kundan Lai, P.W. 1. She was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs, 500/-; in default six months rigorous imprisonment;

(ii) Under Section 489B, Indian Penal Code, for trafficking in or using as genuine a forged or a counterfeit currency note knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit. For such offence she was sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500/-; in default six months rigorous imprisonment; and

(iii) Under Section 489C, Indian Penal Code for having in her possession a forged or counterfeit currency note knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit and intended to use the same as genuine. For such offence she was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment. All the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

5. Bachan Singh was convicted and sentenced:

(i) Under Section 489C, Indian Penal Code for having in his possession forged or counterfeit currency notes knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit and intended to use the same as genuine. For such offence he was sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500/-; in default six months rigorous imprisonment.

6. Shri R. S. Palta, learned Counsel for the appellants rightly considered that it would be an uphill task to dislodge the prosecution version as far as the recoveries of the notes from the respective two appellants are concerned. Though Assistant Sub-Inspector Jagjit Singh, P.W. 4, has been attributed false implication of Bachan Singh appellant, there is nothing to point out against the truthfulness and credibility of the evidence of Kundan Lai, P.W. 1 and Dalip Singh, P.W. 3, who are shop-keepers by profession at Ludhiana having no truck with the police. His contentions are predominately legal on the strength of which he has argued for the acquittal of the appellants.

7. At the outset it would be essential to pictorially describe the notes in question. Concededly all the notes in question, Exhibits P. 1 and P. 2 to P. 14 look like currency notes, for each of them is nothing but two portions of two different currency notes joined together. That is why they have been termed as 'made up notes' by P.W. 2 Shri Dar-shan Kumar Ahluwalia, Deputy Manager of the State Bank of India, Ludhiana, to whom the matter was referred for Information and he gave his report Ex- hibit P. D. The following extracts of his statement may be taken note of:

Forged currency notes can also be prepared with certain dye, with a mechanical process. There are other made up notes which are also forged. The made up notes can also resemble the true notes. I have seen ten rupee note Ex. P. 1. If this note is given to an average man along with other currency notes, it can pass as a genuine note. An illiterate person can also be misled when such a note is given to him. If note Ex. P. 1, is presented to the bank only with portion A to A or B to B, the bank will not change it. The bank cannot accept torn currency notes or in pieces. I have seen currency notes Exs. P. 1, P. 25 to P. 33, these notes bear different nos. These are not genuine notes. These are made-up notes. Ex. P. 34 and Ex. p. 35 also bears two different nos. and these notes are also made-up notes. All the note(s) can be passed off as genuine notes if these notes are given separately in packets.

* * * * *There is difference between counterfeit and made-up notes. Volunteered, counterfeiting is only in coins. I have seen all the printed notes in this case. These notes are joined of the originally printed notes from the Government press. If the entire note is joined and have same no., the bank can take it. If one of the numbers of the note is torn or missing, the bank does not accept it.

* * * * *I have seen currency notes Exs. P. 3 to P. 24. The bank will not accept these notes, because they are made up notes from different pieces of the notes. But if such notes are given to the bank to be sent to the R. B. I. on the payment of the current notes, these may be sent to the Reserve Bank of India. By payment I mean that all the expenses for collection. Volunteered in my opinion these notes will be rejected even by the Reserve Bank of India. m a * *

* * * * *It is correct that few persons sit near clock tower Ludhiana and deal in the business of sale and purchase of torn-notes, while some others do such business while coming in the street. Such persons do not bring the torn notes to the State Bank, a3 we do not accept those notes, they directly send the same to the Reserve Bank of India. The torn Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab and also worn-out notes are dealt with only by the Reserve Bank of India. * * * * *

The word forged regarding the exhibited notes in this case used by me in my above statement have been wrongly stated, because forging of currency notes pertains to printing. By 'made up' currency notes. I mean joining of different pieces of legal and genuine notes.'

8. Having known the nature of the notes in question it requires to be determined whether such 'made up' notes can be called counterfeit or forged notes. Section 28, Indian Penal Code, defines the word 'counterfeit'. It is to the following effect:

28. 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. Explanation****

9. Sections 489A to 489D were originally not in the Indian Penal Code but were introduced later by the Currency Notes Forgery Act (XII of 1899). Since in the aforesaid sections the word 'counterfeit' has been employed it is futile to confine the definition of the word 'counterfeit' given in Section 28 of the Indian Penal Code to coins alone. P.W. 2 Sh. Darshan Kumar Ahluwalia too wishes to confine counterfeiting to coins but that impression of his is plainly wrong. But can 'made-up notes' be termed as 'counterfeit notes' is one question and the other one is can 'made-up notes' be 'forged notes'. Now counterfeiting is a process by which one thing is caused to resemble another thing. It presupposes that there is an original. The act of counterfeiting is the effect of producing another so as to resemble the original, and the object of which is to practise deception, or knowing it likely that the deception will thereby be practised. In a 'made-up note' both parts thereof are original portions of the genuine notes. Could two different portions of two genuine currency notes by putting them together amount to counterfeiting is a subtle question which poses to be answered. If it is taken that by joining two different pieces of two genuine currency notes, the end-product in the shape of a made-up note would still be a genuine currency note then it would not be counterfeiting. But if it is taken that by joining two different portions of two different currency notes would turn out the end-product to be a note which is made to resemble the genuine currency note (represented by one part or the other part) then obviously a new thing has come into being so as to resemble another. The object of placing together two different pieces of two genuine currency notes as a made-up note presupposea to create a new legal tender which it otherwise is not. The mere fact thaj; such notes are changeable at face value from the Reserve Bank of India it being its issuing authority as the promissor thereof, and giving the bearer the sum represented in the note torn is of no consequence. But in order to retain the character of a currency note it has to maintain its original character and any act practised to make it resemble like if retaining its original character, would to my mind be counterfeiting so as to come within the mischief of Sections 489-A to 489-D, Indian Penal Code. There can be no quarrel with the opinion expressed by Sh. Darshan Kumar Ahluwalia, P.W. 2, that a made-up note is not a forged note since no mechanical process is involved. Since no process as is known to Sections 463 and 464, Indian Penal Code, is involved in making a made-up note, the allegation of forgery to my mind is completely out in the process.

10. In order to sustain the conviction of Joginder Kaur appellant, the prosecution has not only to prove that she had the possession of counterfeit note, Exhibit P. 1, ensuring it or having reason to believe it as such, but further to prove circumstances which lead clearly indubitably and irresistibly to her in-, tention to use the notes on the public as has been held in Bur Singh v. The Crown (1930) ILR 11 Lah 555 : 1931) 32 Cri LJ 351. It has further been held that such intention could be proved by a collateral circumstance that she had palmed off such notes before, or that she was in possession of such notes in such large numbers, that her possession for any other purpose was inexplicable. The facts as found are that she had on her person only one made-up note, that she was an illiterate lady and that anybody as Sh. Darshan Kumar Ahluwalia, P, W, 2, would have us believe could be misled to treat it as a genuine note. She gave the note to Kundan Lai, P.W. 2 and he told her that it was not a genuine note and his belief was confirmed when he showed it to others as well. It has nowhere been asserted that the note was ever returned to her and having known fully well or having reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit she yet made another attempt to palm it off. Thus tendering alone such note to Kundan Lai, P.W., unless the prosecution could prove that it was with dishonest intention so as to cause wrongful loss to him and wrong- ful gain to herself would not make her act to fall squarely within Section 420/511, Indian Panal Code, or to have come within the mischief of Section 489B or 489C, Indian Penal Code. The inference sought to be drawn that she must have known or reason to believe the note, Exhibit P 1, to be counterfeit because her husband accompanying her was found to be in possession of similar notes is entirely misplaced for no common intention has been attributed to them and they have not been charged with the aid of Section 34, Indian Penal Code. For the individual act of Jogin- der kaur she cannot be convicted for the above named offences and must be extended the benefit of doubt.

11. With regard to the case of Bachan Singh it is to be noted that he was found in possession of 13 counterfeit ten rupee notes. He is an iron-smith by profession and barely literate. How could he have the knowledge or reason to believe the same to be counterfeit is one part but the other important part is whether he intended to use the same as genuine or that they may be used as genuine has further to be proved by the prosecution. It was held in Bur Singh v. The Crown, {(1931) 32 Cri LJ 351) (Lah) (supra), that mere possession of a forged note is not an offence under the Indian Penal Code and in order to bring a case within the purview of Section 489C, Indian Penal Code, it was not only necessary to prove that the accused was in possession of forged notes but it should forther be established that

(a) at the time of his possession he knew the notes to be forged or had the reason to believe the same to be forged or counterfeit; and

(b) he intended to use the same as genuine. No further collateral circum- stances in the case have been brought forth such as the accused had palmed off such notes before, or that he was in possession of such and similar notes in such large numbers, that his possession for any other purpose was inexplicable,

12. It has been Emitted by Darshan Kumar Ahluwalia, P.W. 2, that there is an open trade going about these notes for they ultimately can be cashed with the Reserve Bank of India and in some cases subject to charges being paid by local banks also_ In other Word though they are not legal tender but these notes have some apparent but depreciated value The possibility cannot be ruled out that the possession of such notes with the appellant was for the purpose of such conversion from the Reserve Bank of India Thus it cannot be inferred that he intended to use them as genuine in the made up form as legal currency or intended that they may be so use Thus to him as well benefit of doubt must be extended. No presumption can be raised against him merely because his wife accompanying him had offered a similar kind of note for use as genuine

13. For the foregoing reasons this appeal merits acceptance. It is hereby allowed, the appellants are extended the benefit of doubt and are acquitted of the charges.


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