The Bombay High Court has quashed the criminal prosecution against a woman from whom some counterfeit currency notes were found in cash she had brought for depositing in the Saraswat Bank’s Vikhroli branch in the wake of demonetization.
The bench observed that mere use of any forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes cannot attract the provisions of Section 489(B), when mens rea is conspicuously absent.
Three notes of the denomination of Rs 1,000 and two notes of the denomination of Rs 500 i.e., the total amount of Rs 4,000 were found to be counterfeit and the bank had lodged the complaint and Sanskriti Jayantilal Salia was charged for offence under Section 489(B) of the Indian Penal Code.
It was her case that she deposited the old notes after they were demonetised by the Central Government and mere possession of some counterfeit notes would not attract the offence charged against her, without any evidence of ‘knowledge’.
The bench quashed the prosecution against her observing that it would be nothing but would amount to an abuse of process of law. It said: “In absence of any evidence brought on record by the prosecution as a part of charge-sheet to demonstrate that possession of the Petitioner of the alleged currency notes which were deposited by her in the bank on 19th December, 2016 was with a knowledge that the same were counterfeit, Petitioner cannot tried for an offence under Section 489(B) in absence of any material to attribute such a knowledge on her part.”