Mumbai: Observing that mere circulation or possession of fake currency notes does not amount to terror activities as defined under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to a person arrested for possessing counterfeit notes worth Rs two lakh.
Justice AM Thipsay was hearing a plea filed by one Ravi Dhiren Ghosh, apprehended on May 14, 2009, along with five others, for alleged possession of fake currency notes, seeking the relief on the ground that the even after three years since his arrest the trial has not commenced and his custody was not required anymore.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is probing the matter had charged the accused under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including criminal conspiracy and under the UAPA for committing terror acts.
Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian argued that the notes seized from the accused persons were printed in Pakistan with a view to destabilise India`s economy and hence a terror act.
Justice Thipsay, however, was not convinced with the argument and said, "So what if the notes were printed in that country (Pakistan)? The consequences of circulating fake notes might be serious but it does not fall under the purview or definition of terrorism."
"Prima facie, the act attributed to the accused cannot be termed as terror act and hence they cannot be charged under UAPA. I don`t think applying UAPA is proper in such cases," the court said, adding if such fake notes were used to facilitate certain terror acts then UAPA can be invoked.
The court while granting Ghosh bail on a surety of Rs 75,000, further raised concerns over trials of NIA cases getting delayed due to non-availability of special NIA courts.
"This is not a fair and just procedure to keep a person in jail for three years just because a special court was not there," Justice Thipsay said.
Prosecutor Salian told the court that special courts have been formed to conduct NIA cases and trial would commence soon in this case.