Coins have been in use since time immemorial and are the currency type that is most used. The Indian coin is specified as the metal stamped in section 230 and issued by the Government of India to be used as currency. The Indian Penal Code, Chapter XII, deals with offences relating to coins and government stamps. Parts 230-254 discuss coins. Sections 489A-489E were incorporated to deal with similar offences in relation to currency notes as soon as paper currency was introduced by the Currency-Notes Forgery Act, 1899.

Counterfeit Coins
Section 231 expands on counterfeiting coins, the word counterfeiting here implies that a person is said to counterfeit who causes one object to imitate another thing, intending to practice deception by means of that resemblance or knowing that deception is likely to be practiced thereby. For counterfeiting, it is not vital that imitation should be accurate. Under this clause, if an individual causes a genuine coin to look like another one,
he is guilty. The purpose to practice fraud, which is inferred from the closeness of the imitation as explained above is the gist of this offence. In a case where the defendant put counterfeit coins in another’s house to include him in a criminal case, but not to defraud the government or for self-gain, it was held that under this clause, he could not be prosecuted.

Making and Selling of Counterfeit Coins
Sections 233 and 234 deal with the manufacture and sale of counterfeit coins, section 235 deals with the possession of instruments or machinery for the purpose of counterfeiting coins, and these sections make punishable mere acts of preparation for the commission of coining offences. The word possession refers to the purpose of exercising power or influence over the possessed entity and the possessor must therefore be mindful of the likelihood of exercising control. In a scenario, the simple fact that the wife knows that her husband is in possession of such equipment and materials would not make her responsible and vice versa for the husband. It is the possession of any tool or substance that is punishable under this section for producing counterfeit money, not mere information that anyone has these possessions.

Import & export of counterfeit coins
Parts 237 & 238 deal with the importation and exportation of counterfeit coins known to the importer or suspected to be counterfeit. The basic ingredients of these laws are identical in that section 238 is attracted with increased penalty when the counterfeit is manufactured or exported, when the counterfeit coin is some other coin and section 237 is attracted instead of Indian.

Delivery of Counterfeit Coins
The distribution of counterfeit coins is protected by sections 239- 243. Under this crime, possession must be intended to defraud and possession of it alone is not illegal, but what makes it a criminal offense under this Act is to deceive another. Three types of crimes are generated in these sections.
1. Delivery of a coin to another with the understanding that it is counterfeit
2. Provide another coin as authentic, which the deliverer did not know to be counterfeit and fake when first possessed.
3. Possession of a counterfeit coin by a person who knows that when they have it is counterfeit.

Alteration of Coins

Section 246-254 deals with coin alternation, which is done to create a passable counterfeit coin such that it appears that a common genuine coin is a rare genuine coin. This is done for ancient coins and logos and slogans to be promoted. It is illegal to change coins, but in different countries the rules are different. Coins are minted in India under the Coinage Act, 2011. According to the Act, no individual shall use the metal to make money, whether stamped or unstamped. No individual can break the shape, design, alter, color, cut the coin, otherwise he will be
responsible for carrying the loss for cutting or destroying the coin, and the loss will be measured on the basis of the coin’s face value.

Currency Notes
Sections 498A-498E was added to the IPC by the Currency-Notes Forgery Act, 1899, in order to protect currency notes and banknotes from forgery. Before this, there was no provision dealing with currency notes as paper
currency was not in vogue in India. Paper currency & the IPC were introduced at the same time. Section 498E was added in the amendment of 1943 for prohibiting and penalizing the acts of bringing in circulation photo-prints or otherwise printed or reproduced or imitated currency notes or banknotes.
1. Section 498A deals with counterfeiting currency notes. This offence is punishable with life imprisonment for ten years and fine
2. 498B deals with using as genuine or forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes, knowingly, doing this incurs a punishment of imprisonment upto ten years and fine
3. 498C deals with possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or banknotes, this offence is punishable with seven years of imprisonment or fine or both
4. 498D deals with making or possessing an instrument or material for forging or counterfeiting currency note or bank notes, this is punishable with ten years of imprisonment and fine.
5. 498E deals with making or using documents resembling currency notes or bank notes, this is punishable with fine uptoRs. 200/-

The expression ‘currency notes’ is wide enough to include currency notes used by India and also those issued by other countries. The Supreme Court in the case M Mammutti v. State of Karnataka emphasized on the basic test when considering a case of possession of counterfeit currency, us to see whether at a casual glance, the currency note can be recognized as fake. The court stated that it must be shown that ‘the counterfeit notes were of such nature or description that a mere look at them would convince a person of average intelligence that it was a counterfeit note’. The fifth law commission suggested that Chapter XII of the IPC is titles Of offences relating to coins & government stamps should be altered to Chapter XII Of offences relations to Currency-Notes, Coins & Government Stamps, however, none of the changes proposed to this have been accepted.

Author – Vedika Ghai (Interns of Prerna Foundation)