After a 23-year-old pleaded guilty in a counterfeit currency trafficking case, a special court on Saturday sentenced him to seven years of rigorous imprisonment. The man is the third to plead guilty of the eight accused persons in the case.
First in August and then in September, two of the co-accused had pleaded guilty before the court. Both had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, too.
Recently accused Rohit Singh, a Bandra resident, had applied to the court pleading guilty. The court noted in its order that he was produced before the court along with the other accused and that it heard him as well as his advocate to find out if the plea was made voluntarily.
His advocate informed the court that he has apprised Singh of the punishment and also of the punishment of his two co-accused were imposed after they pleaded guilty. Special judge under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, Dinesh E Kothalikar, then informed Singh that the punishment could extend to life imprisonment.
Singh had sought leniency in sentencing from the court and requested to be let off as he had spent time in prison as an undertrial since October 2018. He said he is the sole earning member and his family is dependent on him.
The court said in its judgment that he is 23 years old but the reason stated by him for showing leniency does not appear to be a special reason. “It is a settled principle of law that the offense of trafficking in counterfeit currency is an offense which poses a challenge to the economy of the country and as such cannot be viewed lightly,” it said.
Judge Kothalikar further said that the SC in several cases has emphasized that courts must be sensitive while dealing with such offenses as the accused involved in such crimes can be said to be involved in waging financial war against the country virtually. Imposing a sentence for the period Singh has already undergone in prison would amount to showing undue sympathy, it opined. Considering his age and the fact that he has come forward to plead guilty, it said it would be just to impose a seven-year sentence.