Offences related to coins & currency

Offences related to coins & currency

Coins have been in circulations since times immemorial and are the most used form of currency. The Indian coin is defined in section 230 as the metal stamped and issued by the Government of India in order to be used as money. Chapter XII of the Indian Penal Code deals with offences relating to coins and government stamps. Sections 230-254 deal with coins. Once paper currency was introduced sections 489A-489E were added to deal with similar offences inrelation to currency notes by the Currency- Notes Forgery Act, 1899.

Counterfeit Coins

Section 231 expands on counterfeiting coins, the word counterfeiting here means that ‘ 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’. It is not essential to counterfeiting that imitation should be exact. If a person causes a genuine coin to appear like a different one, he is guilty under this section. The gist of this offence is the intention to practice deception, which is inferred from the closeness of the imitation as explained above. In a case where the accused placed counterfeited coins in the house of another, to involve him in a criminal case, but not to defraud the government or for self-gain, it was held that he could not be convicted under this section.

Making and Selling of Counterfeit Coins

Section 233 & 234 deal with the making and selling of counterfeit coins, section 235 deals with the possession of instrument or material for the purpose of using it same for countering coin, these sections make mere acts of preparation for committing offences of coining punishable. The word possession connotes the intention to exercise power or control over the object possessed and therefore the possessor must be conscious of the possibility of exercising control. In a case, the mere fact that the wife knows that certain implements and materials are in the possession of her husband will not make her liable and vice versa for the husband. It is the possession of any instrument or material for making counterfeit currency that is punishable under this section, not mere knowledge that someone has these possessions.

Import & export of counterfeit coins

Section 237 & 238 deal with Import and Export of Counterfeit Coin known by the importer or which he has reason to believe is counterfeit. Essential ingredients of these provisions are similar that when the counterfeit is imported or exported section 238 is attracted with enhanced punishment, when the counterfeit coin is any other coin and not Indian section 237 is attracted.

Delivery of Counterfeit Coins

Sections 239- 243 deal with Delivery of Counterfeit Coins. In this offence, possession must be with the intent to defraud and only possession of it is not criminal but deceiving another is what makes it a criminal offence under this Act. These sections create three classes of offences

1. Delivery to another of coin possessed with the knowledge that it is counterfeit

2. Deliver to another of coin as genuine, which when first possessed, the deliverer did not know to be counterfeit and

3. Possession of counterfeit coin by person who has the knowledge that it is counterfeit when they possessed it.

Alteration of Coins

Section 246- 254 deals with alternation of coins, this is done to produce a passable counterfeit coins so that a common genuine coins appears to be a rare genuine coin. This is done to advertise ancient coins and logos and slogans. It is illegal to alter the coins but laws are different in different countries. In India, coins are minted under The Coinage Act, 2011.According to the Act, no person shall use the metal whether stamped or unstamped intending to use for making the money. No person can destroy the shape, design, change, colour, cut the coin otherwise he will be liable for bearing the loss for cutting or destroying the coin and the loss will be calculated according to the face value of the coin. 

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.

  • Section 489A deals with counterfeiting currency notes. This offence is punishable with life imprisonment for ten years and fine
  • 489B 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
  • 489C deals with possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or banknotes, this offence is punishable with seven years of imprisonment or fine or both
  • 489D 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.
  • 489E 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.

“The views of the authors are personal

Frequently Asked Questions

Who issues Coins?

The coins are issued for circulation only through the Reserve Bank in terms of the RBI Act. Coins in India are presently being issued in denominations of 10 paise, 20 paise, 25 paise, 50 paise, one rupee, two rupees and five rupees. Coins can be issued up to the denomination of Rs. 1000 as per the Coinage Act, 1906

Which Act deals with counterfeit currency?

The Government of India has framed Investigation of High Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency Offences Rules, 2013 under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967

Do people counterfeit coins?

Coin counterfeiting of valuable antique coins is common; modern high-value coins are also counterfeited and circulated. Counterfeit antique coins are generally made to a very high standard so that they can deceive experts; this is not easy and many coins still stand out.

What is the term for fake notes in banking?

Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) is a term used by officials and media to refer to counterfeit currency notes circulated in the Indian economy.


  • The Indian Penal Code, K.D. Gaur, fourth Edition, Universal Law Publishing Co. p,195-210
  • Cecil Turner.J. (2013), Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Textbook of Criminal Law, Glanville Williams, fourth Edition, Sweet & Maxwell South Asian Edition
  • Criminal Law, PSA Pillai’s, 11th Edition KI Vibhute, Lexis Nexis
  • Zamir Hussain v. Crown AIR 1950 Lah 90
  • M Mammutti v. State of Karnataka AIR 1979 SC 1705
Srishti John
Srishti is a law student at CMR School of Legal Studies, Bangalore. In her time at law school, she has found herself lost in subjects like Jurisprudence and Criminology. She loves a good debate and people who challenge her to become better. She is a Political Science graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her resolutions involve reading 30 books in 2020 and spreading a message of joy, kindness and love. She wants to pursue her LLM and aid the violated and vulnerable in their quest for equality & justice.