Section 231 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

According to the explanation attached to the section, a person who causes a genuine coin to appear like a different coin, with the intention of practising deception, or with the knowledge that it is likely that deception will thereby be practised, is guilty of the offence under this section.

According to the section, not only counterfeiting coin but also performing any part of the process of counterfeiting coin is an offence. The expression ‘performs any part of the process’ has been used to indicate that it is not necessary that the whole process should be completed. The end product may not be finished or perfected.

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The section is applicable whether the act of counterfeiting is complete or is left unfinished. The explanation clarifies that even causing a genuine coin to look like another coin is an offence under this section provided the same is done with the intention of practising deception or with the knowledge that deception is likely to be practised thereby.

Therefore, causing a genuine coin to look different does not give any defence to the doer if the requisite mens rea as stated in the section is present. It is not necessary that the resemblance must be exact. However, if no one would be deceived because of the very poor imitation, there is no liability under this section. The word ‘counterfeit’, as has been defined under section 28 of Code, means causing one thing to resemble another, intending by means of that resemblance to practise deception, or knowing it to be likely that deception will thereby be practised.

The offence under this section is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by magistrate of the first class.