The closing hearing was held on February 16 at the Paro dzongkhag court

Legal: The prosecutor of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), during the closing hearing of a case involving counterfeit US dollars, submitted that the two defendants be charged for illegal possession of counterfeit notes, at the Paro dzongkhag court on February 16.

According to the Penal Code, possession of counterfeit currency is a felony of the fourth degree with sentence of between 3 to 5 years imprisonment.

Security personnel at the Tsekha outpost on the northern border apprehended the two people on September 2 last year, when the two were on their way to meet with a businessman across the border.

At the time of their arrest, the two were carrying a total of 333 counterfeit US dollar notes of 100 denomination. The two claimed they did not intend to use the counterfeit currency to purchase gold from across the northern border.

The OAG has charged them for manufacturing, selling, demanding and supplying the counterfeit notes, which both defendants denied.

One of the defendants, Gyembo during the hearing requested the court to reconsider the charges as they intended to sell the counterfeit notes across the northern border. He also requested the court to reduce the charges against them.

OAG’s prosecutor said that Gyembo, who was in Sikkim, India, went to Siliguri to print the counterfeits. “Crime within and outside country should be considered the same,” the prosecutor submitted.

The defendants had agreed to pay INR 400 per counterfeit note. Gyembo and Phub Thinley paid INR 100,000 in advance and to pay the balance INR 33,200 after returning from across the border.

The notes were counterfeited using notes of one-dollar denomination.

Citing the difference between ‘planning to murder’ and ‘murdered’, Gyembo said section 307 of the Penal Code doesn’t fit their crime. “We tried to sell the counterfeit notes,” he said.

According to section 307, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of counterfeiting, if the defendant knowingly manufactures, distributes, or sells counterfeit medicinal products, false currency, coin or bank notes.

Justifying the charges, the prosecutor said that the matter was discussed before and found that the only one particular provision of the Act was appropriate for the case. “The two couldn’t sell the counterfeit notes but it was seized from them,” said the prosecutor.

The prosecutor also submitted that defendant Phub Thinley who was staying in Phuentsholing visited Sikkim to check the counterfeit notes indicating their intention of crime.

Defendant Phub Thinley said they had to commit the crime after incurring huge losses from their businesses. “It was not intentional,” he submitted.

Since they didn’t show up despite the court’s numerous orders relating to another case, one of them was denied bail.

Tashi Tenzin | Paro