2013 ALL MR (Cri) 1356
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
A.M. THIPSAY, J.
Sunil Pannalal Chauhan Vs. The State Of Maharashtra
Criminal Revision Application No. 237 of 2012
16th January, 2013
Petitioner Counsel: Mr. NITIN SEJPAL a/w. Ms. POOJA BHOJANE
Respondent Counsel: Mrs. M.R. TIDKE
Penal Code (1860), Ss.489A, 489C, 489D - Counterfeiting & possessing currency notes - Conviction for - No evidence showing accused manufactured or printed currency notes in question - Inspite of holding the same trial court convicted accused - If person found in possession of huge quantity of counterfeit currency notes, presumption that he intended to use them can be drawn but he had manufactured or printed cannot be drawn - Conviction u/s.489A not proper however conviction u/s.489C maintained. (Paras 8, 9, 12)
JUDGMENT :- The applicant was prosecuted on the allegation of having committed offences punishable under Sections 489A, 489C and 489D of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He was convicted of offences punishable under Section 489A and 489C of the IPC, by the Assistant Sessions Judge for Greater Bombay, who imposed a sentence of Rigorous Imprisonment for Ten years and a fine of Rs.10,000/-, with respect to the first mentioned offence and a sentence of Rigorous Imprisonment for Seven years and a fine of Rs.10,000/-, for the other offence.
2. Being aggrieved by his conviction and the sentences imposed upon him, the applicant preferred an appeal to the court of Sessions, but the learned Additional Sessions Judge, who heard the appeal, concluded that no interference with the reasoning or the conclusion arrived at by the trial court, was necessary. Holding so, he dismissed the appeal.
4. Heard Mr.Nitin Sejpal, the learned counsel for the applicant, and Mrs.M.R.Tidke, the learned APP for the State. With their assistance, I have gone through the judgment of the trial, of the appellate court and have also gone through the relevant parts of the evidence.
5. The first submission made by Mr.Nitin Sejpal is that there was no evidence at all to hold the applicant guilty of an offence punishable under Section 489A of the IPC. He submitted, that the conclusion, that the applicant was guilty of the said offence has been arrived at, without any evidence whatsoever, and therefore, the conclusion was liable to be disturbed in the revisional proceedings.
6. I find that a printer had been seized from the house of the applicant and it was the case of the investigating agency that the counterfeit currency notes, which were found with the applicant, had been prepared or printed by using the said printer. It may be observed at this stage, that, though prosecuted also with respect to an offence punishable under Section 489D of the IPC, the applicant has been acquitted of the said offence.
7. Mr.Nitin Sejpal drew my attention to the relevant part of the evidence of Vijay Kandalgaonkar - PW4, who is the Investigating Officer in the matter. Mr.Nitin Sejpal highlighted the following, which is appearing in the notes of evidence of the said witness :
It is true that computers and printers are the articles of daily use in each house. It is true that at the time of seizure panchnama of printer Exh.19 nothing incriminating was seized from the house. Panchnama Exh.19 does not mentioned about the ink and its colour as well as the make of the cartridges. I have not made any investigation that those notes are prepared from the said printer.
8. Section 489A of the IPC speaks of punishing the person who counterfeits or knowingly performs any part of the process of the counterfeiting any currency note or bank note. Since there was no evidence to indicate that the applicant had manufactured or printed the currency notes in question, I have gone through the reasoning of the trial court as well as that of the appellate court, in the context of the said accusation against the applicant. The reasoning of the learned Assistant Judge in that regard is found in paragraph 38 of his judgment. The learned Judge observed that the evidence adduced by the prosecution was not sufficient to prove that the accused was making the counterfeit currency notes or was possessing the instrument or material for forging the counterfeit currency notes. Inspite of this, he held the applicant guilty of an offence punishable under Section 489A of the IPC on the following reasoning :
"It is to be noted here that the evidence filed on record by the prosecution is not sufficient to prove that accused was making or possessing the instrument or material for forging the counterfeit currency notes. Prosecution succeed to prove that accused counterfeiting the currency notes and found in possession of forged counterfeit currency notes in a large quantity i.e. 100 notes of Rs.1000/- and 100 notes of Rs.100/-. Thereby, prosecution succeed to prove that accused was counterfeiting the currency notes and he is in possession of counterfeit currency notes worth Rs.1,10,000/-.
9. This reasoning of the learned Assistant Sessions Judge cannot be accepted. Even if a person is found in possession of large quantity of counterfeit currency notes, it would not give rise to a presumption that the notes had been prepared or printed by him. The learned Judge has described this as a settled principle of law but has not cited any authority for such a proposition. In my opinion, if the person is found in possession of huge quantity of counterfeit currency notes, a presumption that he intended to use them as genuine can certainly be drawn, but the presumption that he had manufactured or printed the counterfeit currency notes cannot be drawn.
11. Though in revisional jurisdiction this court does not undertake an independent evaluation of evidence to disturb the finding of fact arrived at by the trial court or appellate court, the finding which has been arrived at without any evidence whatsoever, is certainly liable to be interfered with. I find that the conviction of the applicant with respect to offence punishable under Section 489A of the IPC came to be recorded without there being any evidence whatsoever, and as such, the same is liable to be interfered with.
12. So far as the conviction of the applicant on the charge of an offence punishable under Section 489C of the IPC is concerned, Mr.Nitin Sejpal conceded that considering the scope of revisional proceedings, it was difficult to seek acquittal of the applicant with respect to the said charge, and that he was therefore not pressing for any such relief. He, however, submitted that the applicant had no past criminal record, and that, in the circumstances, the substantive sentence imposed upon him be reduced. I find that the offence under Section 489C is punishable with a maximum term of imprisonment for Seven years. This was not a case where the maximum imprisonment provided for the said offence needed to be imposed.
13. Considering all the relevant aspects of the matter, it would be appropriate to reduce the sentence particularly because neither the trial court nor the appellate court has indicated even briefly as to why it was felt by them necessary to provide the maximum punishment that has been provided for the said offence. Apparently, the sentence has been a result of the conclusion that the applicant was guilty also of an offence punishable under Section 489A of the IPC; and this consideration has undoubtedly influenced both the courts below. However, now since the applicant is being acquitted of the said offence, it would be just and proper to reduce the sentence imposed upon him with respect to the offence punishable under Section 489C of the IPC.
16. The conviction of the applicant with respect to the offence punishable under Section 489C of the IPC is maintained, but the substantive sentence imposed upon him is reduced to Rigorous Imprisonment for Five years.