My purpose of this research is to have a lucid understanding of the concept of
‘Forgery’ which has been defined under Section 463 of IPC. This article tends to
provide the cases in which Section 463 can be attracted and situations under
which it is not applied. As there were few articles having little information
regarding the offence of forgery on the internet, so, my motive was to write a
well researched and informative article on the said topic with the help of
relevant case laws, illustrations and examples. This article will provide a
comprehensive and general study of concept of the offence of forgery, its main
ingredients and other sections related to it.
The offences relating to documents (known as ‘Forgery’) are explained under
chapter 18 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section (463 to 477-A) deals with cases
of forgery of documents or electronic record. In this article, I have firmly
discussed about the meaning of forgery under Section 463, and its punishment.
Further, I have analyzed and found that there are cases in which forgery is
present in aggravated form (Section 466-469). For example: Forgery for the
purpose of cheating (Section 468) or harming the reputation of other person
(Section 469) etc. In last part of the article, Sections (472 to 477-A) are
discussed with relevant case laws.
The Offence of Forgery
As per the ‘Section 463’ of the Indian Penal Code, 1860:
‘Whoever makes any
false document 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.’
Therefore, a person when he makes any false document or electronic record with
the criminal intention to:
- Cause injury or damage to the other person or public
- Cause any person part with the property
- Enter into any express or implied contract
- Support any claim or title
- Commit or may commit any fraud then that person will be liable for the
offence of forgery under Section 463 of IPC.
The word document
denotes any matter expressed or described upon any substance
by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means,
intended to be used, or which may be used, as evidence of that matter.
Section 464: This Section of Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with cases in which
the person is said to make a false document or false electronic record. These
cases are as follows:
Firstly, when a person who dishonestly or fraudulently makes, signs, seals or
execute a document and transmit any electronic record with the intention of
causing it to be believed that such a document was made, signed, sealed or
executed by the authority of person by whose authority he knows that it had been
not made, signed, sealed or executed.
Secondly, when a person who without lawful authority acting in dishonest or
fraudulent manner alters a document or an electronic record, either by himself
or by any another person, in material part.
Thirdly, when a person acting in dishonest or fraudulent behaviour causes any
person to sign, seal, execute or alter a document knowing that such a person
because of his in capabilities like unsoundness, intoxication or deception does
not understand the contents of the document or nature of alteration.
In such circumstances, a person is said to make a false document or an
electronic record and therefore, he commits the offence of Forgery under Section
463 of IPC.
The Supreme Court in Sheila Sebastian v. R.J. Jawahraj & Another
(2018) 7 SCC
581 talked about section 463 and section 464 of the IPC. It says that section
463 defines the offence of forgery while on the other hand section 464
substantiates the same by providing answer as to when a false document or an
electronic record could be said to have been made for the purpose of committing
the offence of forgery under section 463. However section 464 defines only one
of the essential ingredients of forgery i.e., the making of false document. It
was further said by the court in this case that charge of forgery cannot be
levelled against a person who is not maker of false document in question.
The Supreme Court in T.N. Rugmini v. C. Achutta Menon
AIR 1991 SC 983, held that
making an application in another's name without any intention to defraud or
causing harm to anyone does not amount to an offence of forgery under section
464 of IPC.
· 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
· 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.
In these cases, the person acted in dishonest or fraudulent manner in order to
cause injury or damage to the other person by making and signing the false
document, therefore he is liable for the offence of forgery under Section 463 of
Indian Penal Code.
Essentials Elements of Forgery
The following are the essentials elements of the offence of forgery defined
under section 463 of the IPC:
Making of a false document
- The making of a false document or a part of it.
- Such making should be with dishonest or fraudulent intent:
- To cause damage or injury to:
- any person or
- public or
- To support any claim or title; or
- To cause any person to part with the property; or
- To cause any person to enter into an contract, whether implied or
- To commit fraud or that fraud may be committed in the coming future.
The first ingredient in order to make someone liable for the offence of forgery
is making of a false document or electronic record. The person is said to make a
false document is explained under section 464. In other words, we can say,
Section 464 explains what amounts to making of a false document or electronic
record. The document must be legally capable of affecting the fraud intended and
it is not necessary that the document should be published or made in the name of
an existing person.
The Supreme court in Mohd Ibrahim v. State of Bihar
(2009) 8 SCC 751, observed
that a person is said to have made false document if:
- He made or executed a document claiming to be somebody else or
authorized by someone else; or
- He altered or tampered a document; or
- He obtains a document practicing deception or form a person who is not
in control of his/her senses.
To Cause Damage or Injury to the any person or public
The 2nd essential is that some damage or injury must be intended to be caused by
the false document to the public or to any individual. In the case of Sanjiv Ratanappa v. Emperor AIR
1932 Bom. 545, the court held that a police officer who makes any changes in his
diary so as to show that he had not kept certain persons under surveillance will
not be liable for the offence of forgery because there is no risk of damage or
injury to any other individual. Therefore, if there is no damage or loss to any
individual then the person will not be made liable under Section 463 of IPC.
To Support any claim or title
A person who has legal claim or title over a property can be made liable under
section 463 if he counterfeits the documents in order to support it. For
Example: ‘D’ said that my property will be transferred to ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ in
equal share after his life time. ‘A’ acting in dishonest manner scratched the
name of ‘B’ intending that whole property will be shared between himself and C.
Here A has committed forgery and will be liable under section 463 of IPC.
To cause any person to part with property
When a person makes a false document with an intention to cause, any other
person to part with his property, damage or injury, then it is immaterial that
the property must be in existence at the time when the false document was made.
For example: If ‘A’ gives an order to ‘B’ to make Sofa cum Bed for him, but ‘C’
before the Sofa cum Bed is made writes a false letter purporting, but falsely,
to be signed by ‘A’, authorizing ‘B’ to deliver the same to ‘D’ when made. Here
‘C’ will be guilty of an offence under this section by eating that false letter
with intent to cause ‘B’ to part with the tea-set, when made.
Intent to commit fraud
There are cases in which a person can be made liable if he makes a false
document with an intention to commit fraud with the other individual. In order
to constitute fraud, an intention to deceive is required.
For Example: ‘B
’ makes a painting and signs the name of a well known artist on
that picture. He exposes the same picture for the sale in the market which was
purchased by ‘C’. Here ‘B’ will be liable under the offence of forgery because
he defrauds ‘C’ by giving out the impression that the picture was painted by
renowned artist whereas the painting was made by him. Here, B could be made
liable for the offence of forgery even if the picture was not purchased by
anyone because the intent to deceive the public by exposing the picture in
market itself amounts to forgery.
Punishment for Forgery
Punishment for the offence of forgery has been prescribed under Section 465 of
IPC. According to this section- Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with
imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years or
with the fine or with both. The offence is Non-cognizable, Bailable, Triable by
Magistrate of the first class and Non-compoundable.
Aggravated forms of Forgery
Sections 466 to 469 of IPC deal with the situations in which offence of forgery
is present in aggravated form. For instance, the case of forgery of the record
of a court, or of public register, forgery of a valuable security, will, etc.
and forgery for the purpose of cheating and harming the reputation of another
person, are the aggravated forms of forgery. However the punishment varies in
It states that when a person forges a document or an electronic
record, which is a record of proceedings of a Court of Justice, or register of
birth, marriage, baptism (Christian religious rite) or burial or registration
kept by a public servant, or certificate or document made by public servant in
his official capacity, or authority to institute or dismiss claim or to grant
judgment or a power of attorney, then such a person mill be liable under Section
466. It mostly applies to those cases in which the accused fraudulently forges a
document or an electronic record so that it may appear that the same have been
issued by a public office, for instance, forging a marriage certificate.
In the case of Naga Pre v. Emperor
1904 Cr LJ 1124, a person was held liable for
the offence of forgery under section 466 when he fraudulently altered his
original name and age in an educational certificate in order to get a job.
According to this section, whoever forges the document which
purports to be a valuable security or a will, or an authority to adopt a son or
authority to any person to create or transfer any valuable security or authority
in order to receive the principal, interest or dividends on a valuable security
or authority to receive or deliver money, movable property or valuable security
or acquaintance or receipt acknowledging the payment of money, or acquaintance
of receipt for any movable property or valuable security, shall be punished with
imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years
Section 467 talks about the offence which is an aggravated form of the offence
described in the preceding section i.e. Section 466. A person could only be made
guilty under this section when the forged document is one of those mentioned in
In Kishan lal v. State
AIR 1976 SC 1139, the person (accused) received the money
from postman by representing himself as the payee, which in fact he was not, and
signed the postal acknowledgement in the name of the original payee. It was held
by the court that accused is liable for the offence under section 467 of the IPC.
A person is punished when he forges a document or an electronic
record for the purpose of cheating. For the application of this section, it is
not mandatory that the accused must have really cheated, what is relevant is to
check the intention of the accused in committing forgery. Therefore, intention
plays a crucial role in determining the offence under this section. Punishment
under this section is imprisonment for 7 years which is cognizable, non-bailable
and non compoundable.
State of Orissa v. Rabindra Nath Sahu
(2002) CrLJ 2327 (Ori) is the case where
the Orissa High court held that Section 468 does not require that the accused
has committed the offence of cheating but the material fact for this section is
that the accused must have committed forgery with the intent to use the forged
document for the purpose of cheating. The accused can be made liable under
Section 468 as well as for the offence of cheating, if he has used the forged
document for the purpose of cheating.
In Nand Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar
AIR 1992 SC 1939, the accused was held not
guilty because of lack of evidence regarding knowledge and consent that the
co-accused had forged the documents to obtain the LIC policies. The only
evidence before the court was that premium amounts were credited to his account,
which was not sufficient to prove his guilt under section 468.
It deals with the cases in which a person who forges a document or
electronic record for the purpose of harming the reputation of another person.
Such a person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to
3 years with fine. However, such an offence is bailable unlike section 468.
Section 470 & 471:
Section 470 defines which type of documents comes under
category of forged documents and Section 471 fixes the liability of any person
who uses the forged document as a genuine or legitimate one. But there is a
condition to make someone liable under this section i.e. the document in
question should be used by a person who has the knowledge or reason to believe
that such a document is forged.
In Daniel Hailey Walcott v. State of Madras
AIR 1968 Mad. 349, it was held by
the Madras High court that using a forged passport as an authentic or genuine
one in order to gain entry into India is punishable offence under section 471 of IPC.
Making of Counterfeit Seal, Plate etc to Commit Forgery
Section 472 to 476 deals with cases of forgery by means of making or creating
counterfeit seals, plates or instruments, to use for creating the forged
Any person who makes or counterfeits a seal, plate or any other
instrument with the intent to commit forgery of valuable security, will, and
other documents specified in Section 467 of the Code, possess such a seal, plate
or any other instrument. In such a case, a person will punished for life
imprisonment or imprisonment for a term up to 7 years with fine.
Whoever makes or counterfeits any seal, plate, etc with intention
of committing forgery which would be punishable under any section of the same
chapter expect Section 467 or has in his possession any such scale, plate, etc
then he will be punished under this section. Punishment under this section is
imprisonment of 7 years which is bailable offence.
A person will be punished under this section, if he possesses a
document or an electronic record which is forged and uses the same, dishonestly
or fraudulently, as genuine document. He shall be punished with imprisonment for
life or imprisonment for a term which may extend to 7 years with fine.
A person who counterfeits any material, device for the purpose of
authenticating any document which are described under section 467 of the same
code then he will be liable under section 475.
A person who counterfeits any material, device for the purpose of
authenticating any document which are not described under section 467 of the
same code then he will be liable under section 476.
Section 475 and 476 are almost similar and the only difference is regarding the
document i.e. if document is mentioned under section 467 then Section 475 is
attracted otherwise section 476 will come into play. The punishment imposed
under section 476 is less severe than section 475.
Section 477-A (Falsification of accounts)
Under this section, there are specifically two offences, namely: (i) defrauding,
altering, destroying, mutilating or falsifying any book or accounts or an
electronic record; and (ii) making or abetting the making of false entries in
the same. There are some essential ingredients which need to be fulfilled in
order make any person liable under this section.
These essential ingredients are as follows
State of Orissa v. Bishnu Charan Muduli
- The persons committing such an offence should be, a clerk, officer, or
servant, or acting in such capacity;
- He must willfully and with the intention to defraud:
- destroy, alter, mutilate or falsify any book, electronic record, paper,
writing, valuable security; (a) which belongs to his employer or is in
employer’s possession; or (b) has been received by either himself or on the
behalf of his employer; or
- Makes or abets the making of any false entry in or omits or alters from
or in any such book, electronic record, paper, writing, valuable security or
1985 Cr LJ 1573 (Ori), the driver and
cleaner of a bus who caused an accident, changed the number plate of that bus
and also involved in forging the registration book to tally with new number
plate. The Orissa high court found both of them guilty for the offence under
section 477-A of IPC.
Keeping in view the above mentioned judgements pronounced by the different
courts, it is clear that Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code punishes a person
if he commits the offence of forgery. The offence of forgery is basically
related to offences which are related to document. It says that if a person
makes a false document with malafide intention in order to cause damage to
public or a particular person then such a person (accused) will be punished with
imprisonment up to 2 years along with fine. Section 465 deals with the
punishment regarding the offence of forgery. As mentioned above, there are
certain cases where forgery is present in aggravated form. Section 466 to 469
deals with such cases.
In the contemporary world, the offence of forgery is committed so often. There
are many cases where a person or a group indulge in commission of such crime.
For example: Person who entered into the territory of another country with some
criminal intention through a forged passport or any other documents can be made
liable under section 463 of the IPC. With penal provisions like Section 463,
courts held many persons guilty in different cases related to it.
- The Indian Penal Code, 2019 (Act 45 of 2019
- Prof. S.N. Mishra, Indian Penal Code (Central Law Publications, 22nd edn,
- PSA Pillai, Criminal Law (Lexis Nexis, 12th edn, Haryana, 2014)