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Forgery for the purpose of cheating

In this article, the author discusses the offence of forgery for the purpose of cheating as mentioned under IPC. To substantiate the concept, reference is made to all the section covered by the topic, with relevant illustrations and case laws.

Introduction
According to section 463 of Indian Penal Code 1860- whoever makes any false documents or false electronic record or a part of the document with the criminal intention to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause damage or injury to the general public or to any individual, or to support any claim or title, or cause any person to part with property, or enter into implied or express contract or with intent to commit fraud, commits forgery.[1]

The making of a false document by itself is not punishable in the Indian Penal Code under the provision of Chapter XVIII dealing with the offences related to the documents.

Explanation 1
The crime of forgery generally refers to the making of false document, the modification of an existing document, or the unauthorized signing of a signature without authorization.

Explanation 2
The most common form of forgery includes signing someone’s else name in the cheque . The making of a false document in the name of a fictitious person, and making other people believe that it was made by a real person, may also amount to forgery. Legal contracts, historical paper, art work, legal certificates, identification cards, are some of the most common documents to be forged. Forging currency and consumer goods is also a crime but this crime is referred to as counterfeiting.

Elements Of Forgery Under Section 463:

  1. False making- The document or electronic record or the part of it must be false or fake in fact. For Example, photocopying someone’s signature and then placing it on the legal document without their consent or knowledge. Moreover, forgery mainly occurs in the field of art and literature.
     
  2. Material alteration- The person must have taken a genuine document and changed it in some significant way, which is intended to cover situations like false signatures or improperly filling in blanks on a form.
     
  3. Intent to defraud - It must have been done with intent to deceive or cause damage to the general public or to any person within the meaning of the words used in section 464 of Indian Penal Code. For instance, the work of art can be copied or replicated but until and unless the accused tries to sell or represent it as original copy, no crime has been committed.
     
  4. Legal Efficacy- The false document or writing must have some legal significance which means it must affect another person’s right to something. a writing related to social significance cannot be the subject of forgery.
     
  5. Ability to defraud:
    The document or writing must look genuine enough to qualify as having the apparent ability to fool most people. The specific state of mind for forgery only requires intent to fool people and it does not require intent to steal.

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

B. B picks up a cheque on a banker signed by C, payable to bearer, but without any sum having been inserted in the cheque. B intentionally fills up the cheque by inserting the sum of twenty thousand rupees. B commits forgery.

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

D. B gave C, his agent, a cheque signed by B, without inserting the sum payable and authorizes C to fill up the cheque by inserting a sum not exceeding thirty thousand rupees for the purpose of making certain payment. C fraudulently fills up the cheque by inserting the sum of fifty thousand rupees. C commits forgery.

E. B dictates his will to C. C intentionally alters the will and told B that he has prepared the will according to his instructions, and induces B to sign the will. C has committed forgery.

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


Forgery For The Purpose Of Cheating:

While Section 463 of Indian Penal Code deals with forgery, this section will be dealing with a specific case of forgery that is forgery for the purpose of cheating, which is the main purpose of the offender. This offence is non-compoundable, cognizable and non-bailable and it is triable by Magistrate of First Class.

According to section 468 of Indian Penal Code -Whoever commits forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged shall be used for the purpose of cheating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine. [2]

Now there is a difference between cheating and forgery, which is explained below.

The difference between cheating and forgery:
  1. Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any property, to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to cheat. (Sec. 415).

    According to section 463 of Indian Penal Code 1860- whoever makes any false documents or false electronic record or a part of the document with the criminal intention to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause damage or injury to the general public or to any person, or to support any claim or title, or cause any person to part with property, or enter into implied or express contract or with intent to commit fraud, commits forgery.[1]
     
  2. The main difference between cheating and forgery is that, in cheating the deception is oral whereas in forgery the deception is in writing.
     
  3. When a person causes harm to the person, body, mind, or to entire property, the person commits cheating whereas when an accused has caused damage to the title of the property and the offence relates to the property indirectly, has committed forgery.
     
  4. Cheating can be committed with or without the knowledge of the owner of the property, but forgery is always committed without the knowledge of the owner of the property.

Scope Of Section 468

Section 468 is applied and prescribes punishment only to the cases of forgery with the purpose of cheating. It is an aggravated form of forgery with an additional ingredient that is ‘purpose of cheating’ and gives a penalty of up to a 7 year jail term. This section only applies where forgery is committed by the offender with the intention of using forged document or forged electronic record for the purpose of cheating.

Forgery has been described as the presence of two elements that is- fraud or dishonesty. This offence has dishonest acquisition of property and it means the wrongful acquisition or retention of property. It is not necessary that the offender uses the document for himself for the purpose of cheating. He must, however, intend it to be used for cheating, which makes him at last, the companion or abettor of the cheat.

Proof
The prosecution has to be establish:
  • That the accused has committed forgery
  • That he did so with an intention that the forged shall be used for the purpose of cheating.
The main objective of section 468 Indian Penal Code is to find that whether the accused has deceived someone by making false documents. If the prosecution were able to establish that forging of documents has been done and such forged documents are used for the purpose of cheating, then only the accused is liable for been convicted.

Prosecution is required to prove that:
  • The disputed document or the electronic record is a forged document
  • The accused has forged the document
  • The accused used the forged document for the purpose of cheating
To secure a conviction under section 468 of Indian Penal Code, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to prove the ingredients of Section 463.

Important Case Laws:
  • State of Orissa v. Rabindra Nath Sahu (2002) CrLJ 2327 (Ori), 93 (2002) CLT 571
    The section does not require that the accused has committed the offence of forgery. The material fact for this section is that the accused has committed forgery with the intent to use the forged document for the purpose of cheating. However, he will become liable under section 468 and also for the offence of cheating if the accused has used the forged document for the purpose of cheating.
     
  • Nand Kumar Singh v State of Bihar AIR 1992SC 1939
    In this case the accused was acquitted because the prosecution has no evidence that it was in the knowledge and consent that the co-accused has forged the documents which reacted to obtaining of LIC policies. The only evidence prosecution had was that the premium amounts were credited to his account, which was not sufficient to prove the accused guilty.
     
  • Anisette lobo v. State AIR 1994 SC 1613
    A1- was a bank employee, who took a blank draft on which A-5 forged the signature of their agent A-3 and opened a new account in the name of a fictitious person and enchased the cheques. In this case the accused were held liable and was rightly convicted for the offences under section 467, 468, and 120B OF IPC.

End Note:
  1. Section 463 Indian Penal Code
  2. Section 468 Indian Penal Code

Written by: Siya Jalan. A 2nd year law student, currently pursuing BBA-LLB (Hons.) form United World School of Law, Karnavati University.

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