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Digital Forgery

Forgery is the creation of a document which one knows is not genuine and yet projects the same as if it is genuine. In common parlance, it is used more in terms of affixing somebody else’s signature on a document. Digital forgery implies making use of digital technology to forge a document, desktop publishing systems, color laser and ink-jet printers, color copiers, and images canners enable crooks to make fakes, with relative ease, of cheques, currency, passports, visas, birth certificates, ID cards, etc.

Indian Law
Section 91 of the IT Act (read with the Second Schedule) amended the provisions of the IPC in relation to ‘forgery’ to include ‘electronic records’ as well. Section 29A has been inserted in the Indian Penal Code to provide for a definition of ‘electronic record’. The words ‘electronic record’ will have the same meaning which is assigned to it in section 2(1)(t)2 of the IT Act. Section 464 of the IPC was amended by section 91 of the IT Act to include a false electronic record. Under section 464, a person is said to make a false electronic record:
  1. Who dishonestly or fraudulently makes or transmits any electronic record or part of any electronic record, or, affixes any digital signature on any the electronic record, or, makes any mark denoting the authenticity of the digital signature, with the intention of causing it to be believed that such electronic record or part of an electronic record or digital signature was made, 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, executed or affixed; or
     
  2. Who, without lawful authority, dishonestly or fraudulently, by cancellation or otherwise, alters an electronic record in any material part thereof, after it has been made, executed, or affixed with a digital signature either by himself or by any other person, whether such person be living or dead at the time of such alteration; or
     
  3. Who dishonestly or fraudulently causes any person to sign, execute or alter 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 practiced upon him, he does not know the contents of the electronic record or the nature of the alteration.


Explanation 3 to section 464 has also been inserted which, for the purpose of this section provides for the expression ‘affixing digital signature’ to have the same meaning as assigned to it in section 2(1)(d)3 of the IT Act.

Section 463 of the IPC, after amendment, defines forgery, in relation to electronic records, as the making of any false electronic record or part thereof 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.

Section 466 (forgery of record of Court or of Public register, etc.), section 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), section 469 (forger for purpose of harming reputation), section 470 (forged document or electronic record), section 471 (using as genuine a forged document),section474 (having possession of the document described in section 466 or 467, knowing it to be forged and intending to use it as genuine) and section 476 (counterfeiting device or mark used for authenticating documents other than those described in section 467, or possessing counterfeit marked material) have also been suitably amended to include electronic records.

It may, however, be noticed that section 467 which pertains to forgery of valuable security, will, etc., has not been amended for the reason that section 1(4) bars the applicability of the IT Act to certain documents including a will, trust, power-of-attorney, contract for sale or conveyance of immovable property, etc.

Therefore, digital forgery and offenses related to it are now covered under the IPC pursuant to the amendments made by the IT Act.

Convention on Cyber Crime Council of Europe

The Convention on Cybercrime, Article 7 requires the member-States to make laws to establish as criminal offenses, when committed intentionally and without right, the input, alteration, deletion, or suppression of computer data, resulting in inauthentic data with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic, regardless whether or not the data is directly readable and intelligible.

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