Legal Provisions Regarding Offences Relating to Documents and to Property Marks in India

Sec. 466 explains forgery of record of Court or of public register, etc. Sec. 467 states about forgery of valuable security, will, etc. Sec. 468 explains forgery for purpose of cheating. Sec. 469 states forgery for purpose of harming reputation. Sec. 470 defines forged documents. Remaining Sections, i.e., from Sec. 471 to Sec. 477-A are aggravated forms of forgery.

Meaning:

Forgery is the false making or materially altering with intent to defraud, of any writing which, if genuine, might apparently be of legal affiance, or the foundation of a legal liability.

Tomlin’s Law Dictionary: The fraudulent making or alteration of any record, deed, writing, instrument, register, stamp, etc., to the prejudice of another man’s right. It is a false making of any written instrument for the purpose of fraud or deceit. It includes every alteration of or addition to a true instrument.

Definition:

Sec. 463 defines “Forgery”.

Sec. 463. Forgery:

[Whoever makes any false documents or false electronic record or part of a document or electronic record, with intent to cause damage or injury] to the public or to any person, or to support any claim or title, or to cause any person to part with property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed, commits forgery.

Important Points:

A. Ingredients:

The essential ingredients of forgery under Sec. 463 are:

1. The making of the false document or part of it:

2. Such making should be with such intention to commit fraud; and

3. By such forgery damage or injury occurs to the public or to any person; and

4. Such act of forgery is done in support of any claim of title.

6. The words in square brackets in Section were substituted by Act 21 of 2000, Sec. 91 and Sch. I, for “Whoever makes any false documents or part of a document with intent to cause damage or injury”, w.e.f. 17-10-2000.

B. The gist of the offence under Sec. 463 is that the offender intends to cause damage or injury to the public or to any person with a dishonest intention. There must be deceit or intention to deceive and actual or possible injury caused to some person or persons. It is not necessary that injury or fraud or harm shall occur to the complainant.

C. Noor Ahemad vs. Jagadish Chandra Sen (AIR 1934 Cal. 839)

Brief Facts: The accused tampered the electoral rolls. Thus he caused injury to the public. Voting rights of some of the voters were affected. He was held guilty under this Section.

D. Generally forgery is made in respect of a legal claim or title to property. However it is not limited to a claim to a property only. Forgery may include such other documents, viz., making forgery of a Court summons, forging a discharge certificate on a mortgage deed, etc. The forgery of a copy of an original document is an offence under this Section.

E. L.K. Siddappa vs. Lalithamma (1954 CrLJ 1235 Mysore)

With an intention to defame the complainant/Lalithamma, the accused printed false marriage invitation cards and distributed. The accused was convicted of the offence of forgery under Sec. 463.

F. G.S. Bansal vs. Delhi Administration (AIR 1963 SC 439)

The accused encashed the post office national saving certificates after making necessary endorsements and signatures of the deceased. He also attested them. The Supreme Court held that the accused was guilty of the offence of forgery under Sec. 463.

Making a False Document

Section 464 explains about making a false document. It is similar to that of forgery. This Section contains three descriptions, three explanations, seventeen illustrations.

Sec. 464. Making a false document:

[A person is said to make a false document or false electronic record,—

First:

Who dishonestly or fraudulently,—

(a) Makes, signs, seals or executes a document or part of a document;

(b) Makes or transmits any electronic record or part of any electronic record;

(c) Affixes any digital signature on any electronic record;

(d) Makes any mark denoting the execution of a document or the authenticity of the digital signature, with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document or part of a document, electronic record or digital signature was made, signed, sealed, executed, transmitted or affixed by or by the authority of a person by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed or executed, or affixed; or

Secondly:

Who, without lawful authority, dishonestly or fraudulently, by cancellation or otherwise, alters a document or an electronic record in any material part thereof, after it has been made or executed or affixed with digital signature either by himself or by any other person, whether such person be living or dead at the time of such alteration; or

Thirdly:

Who dishonestly or fraudulently causes any person to sign, seal, execute or alter a document or an electronic record or to affix his digital signature on any electronic record, knowing that such person by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication cannot, or that by reason of deception practised upon him, he does not know the contents of the document or electronic record or the nature of the alteration.]

Illustrations:

(a) A has a letter of credit upon B for rupees 10,000 written by Z. A, in order to defraud B, adds a cipher to the 10,000 and makes the sum 1,00,000 intending that it may be believed by B that Z so wrote the letter. A has committed forgery.

(b) A, without Z’s authority, affixes Z’s seal to a document purporting to be a conveyance of an estate from Z to A, with the intention of selling the estate to B and thereby of obtaining from B the purchase-money. A has committed forgery.

(c) A picks up a cheque on a banker signed by B, payable to bearer, but without any sum having been inserted in the cheque. A fraudulently fills up the cheque by inserting the sum of ten thousand rupees. A commits forgery.

(d) A leaves with B, his agent, a cheque on a banker, signed by A, without inserting the sum payable and authorizes B to fill up the cheque by inserting a sum not exceeding ten thousand rupees for the purpose of making certain payments. B fraudulently fills up the cheque by inserting the sum of twenty thousand rupees. B commits forgery.

(e) A draws a bill of exchange on himself in the name of B without B’s authority intending to discount it as a genuine bill with a banker and intending to take up the bill on its maturity. Here, as A draws the bill with intent to deceive the banker by leading him to suppose that he had the security of B, and thereby to discount the bill, A is guilty of forgery.

(f) Z’s will contain these words: “I direct that all my remaining property be equally divided between A, B, and C.” A dishonestly scratches out B’s name, intending that it may be believed that the whole was left to himself and C. A has committed forgery.

(g) A endorses a Government promissory note and makes it payable to Z or his order by writing on the bill the words “Payto Zorhis order” and signing the endorsement. B dishonestly erases the words “Payto Zorhis order” and thereby converts the special endorsement into a blank endorsement. B commits forgery.

(h) A sells and conveys an estate to Z. A afterwards, in order to defraud Z of his estate, executes a conveyance of the same estate to B, dated six months earlier than the date of conveyance to Z, intending it to be believed that he had conveyed the estate to B before he conveyed it to Z. A has committed forgery.-.

(i) Z dictates his will to A. A intentionally writes down a different legatee from the legatee named by Z, and by representing to Z that he has prepared the will according to his instructions, induces Z to sign the will. A has committed forgery.

(j) A writes a letter and signs it with B’s name without B’s authority, certifying that A is a man of good character and in distressed circumstances from unforeseen misfortune, intending by means of such letter to obtain alms from Z and other persons. Here, as A made a false document in order to induce Z to part with property, A has committed forgery.

(k) A without B’s authority writes a letter and signs it in B’s name certifying to A’s character, intending thereby to obtain employment under Z. A has committed forgery, inasmuch as he intended to deceive Z by the forged certificate, and thereby to induce Z to enter into an express or implied contract for service.

Explanation-1:

A man’s signature of his own name may amount to forgery.

Illustrations:

(a) A signs his own name to a bill of exchange intending that it may be believed that the bill was drawn by another person of the same name. A has committed forgery.

(b) A writes the words “accepted” on a piece of paper and signs it with Z’s name, in order that B may afterwards write on the paper a bill of exchange drawn by B upon Z, and negotiate the bill as though it had been accepted by Z. A is guilty of forgery; and if B, knowing the fact, draws the bill upon the paper pursuant to A’s intention, B is also guilty of forgery.

(c) A picks up a bill of exchange payable to the order of a different person of the same name. A endorses the bill in his own name, intending to cause it to be believed that it was endorsed by the person to whose order it was payable; here A has committed forgery.

(d) A purchases an estate sold under execution of a decree against B. B, after the seizure of the estate, in collusion with Z, executes a lease of the estate to Z at a nominal rent and for a long period, and dates the lease six months prior to the seizure, with intent to defraud A, and to cause it to be believed that the lease was granted before the seizure. B, though he executes the lease in his own name, commits forgery by antedating it.

(e) A, a trader, in anticipation of insolvency, lodges effects with B for A’s benefit, and with intent to defraud his creditors; and in order to give a colour to the transaction writes a promissory note binding himself to pay to B a sum for value received, and antedates the note, intending that it may be believed to have been made before A was on the point of insolvency. A has committed forgery under the first head of the definition.

Explanation-2:

The making of a false document in the name of a fictitious person, intending it to be believed that the document was made by a real person, or in the name of a deceased person, intending it to be believed that the document was made by the person in his lifetime, may amount to forgery.

Illustration:

A draws a bill of exchange upon a fictitious person, and fraudulently accepts the bill in the name of such fictitious person with intent to negotiate it. A commits forgery.

Explanation-3:

For the purposes of this Section, the expression “affixing digital signature” shall have the meaning assigned to it in clause (d) of sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000).

Important Points:

A. Section 464 gives an elaborative picture. It also gives seventeen illustrations, three explanations, and three descriptions. The definition of making false document given under Sec. 464 is part of definition of forgery. Both must be read together. The essential Ingredients of Sec. 464 are:

1. That fraudulently signing a document or a part of a document with an intention of causing it to be believed that such document or part of a document was signed by another or under his authority;

2. Making of such a document with an intention to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed;

3. Mens rea must be found in both the Sections 463 and 464. Fraudulently and the intention to commit fraud in these sections give the same meaning.

4. The words in square brackets in Section were substituted by Act 21 of 2000, Sec. 91 and Sch. I, for “Whoever makes any false documents or part of a document with intent to cause damage or injury”, w.e.f. 17-10-2000

B. Punishment for forgery:

Sec. 465 says that whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is non-cognizable, bailable non- compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

C. Attestation of a forged document:

Where a person attests a forged document without knowing the nature of the document he cannot be deemed as an offender. However if a person attests a forged document knowing it to be a forged document, he shall be guilty of offence of forgery under Sec. 464.

D. Dr. Vimla vs. Delhi Administration (AIR 1963 SC 1572)

Brief Facts:

Dr. Vimla/appellant purchased an Austin Car on 20-1-1953 with the registration number DLA-4796 from Dewan Ram Swarup in the name of her minor daughter Nalini, aged 6 months. She paid the price. Ownership of the car was transferred in the name of Nalini.

She insured the car with the Bharat Fire and General Insurance Company Limited, in April, 1953. Dr. Vimla signed the proposal form as Nalini. The car met with an accident.

Vimla received the compensation from the insurance company as Nalini, Later insurance company lodged a criminal complaint against Vimla and her husband Chand Kavi Raj alleging that they committed forgery on the name of Nalini under Sections 120-B, 419, 467 and 468 of the Code. The Sessions Judge acquitted both the accused. The State appealed.

The High Court of Punjab acquitted her husband from all the charges. It acquitted Dr. Vimla under Sec. 419, but set aside her acquittal under Sections 467 and 468 and imposed a fine of Rs. 100/-. She preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judgment:

The Supreme Court acquitted the accused/appellant from all the charges. It opined that the accused might have purchased the car on her minor daughter’s name due to luck or sentiments. The facts were apparent on the record itself. There was no fraud played on the part of the appellant. Hence she was not guilty.

E. Forged Document:

Sec. 470 defines: “A false document made wholly or in part by forgery is designated as a forged document”.

F. Problem:

State under what circumstances a person can commit forgery of his own signature? SOLUTION: A man’s signature of his own name may amount to forgery. As per Sec. 464, Explanation No. 1. And its illustrations from (a) to (e), it is evident that a man’s signature of his own name and may amount to forgery, and he is guilty of offence of forgery of making false document.

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