Offences Relating to Documents: All you need to know about it

December 18, 2019
Offences Relating to Documents

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This article is written by Isha, a second-year student at Bharti Vidyapeeth, New Law College Pune. This article talks regarding Offences relating to Document. 


To understand the concept of an offence relating to documents, we need to know what is a document as well as a forgery.

According to Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 defines document as, “Document” means 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, for the purpose of recording that matter.”

Forgery is defined under Section 463 of Indian Penal Code, Whosoever makes any fake document or incorrect electronic record or part of a document with an intention 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 share with property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with purpose to commit fraud or that fraud may be accomplished, commits forgery.

Forgery hence can be described as a means to achieve an end- the end is an instance of action or scheme fabricated to mislead someone into believing a lie or inaccuracy. 

Concept of false Document 

According to Section 463 of IPC, A person is declared to make a false document when;

Firstly- who dishonestly or fraudulently makes sign, seal or performs a document or part of a document makes any mark indicating the execution of a document, with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document or part of a document was made signed sealed or executed by the authority of a person by whom authority was not made, signed at a time at which he knows that it was not made sealed or executed; or

Secondly- who without legal authority dishonestly or fraudulently by withdrawing or contrarily reconstructs a document in any material part thereof after it has been made himself or by any person whether such person be alive or dead at the time of such alteration; or 

Thirdly- whoever dishonestly or fraudulently causes any person to seal, sign, execute or reconstruct a document knowing that such person by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication cannot by reason of deceit practised upon him, he does not know the content of the document or the nature of the alteration. 


  1. X has a letter of credit upon B for rupees 10,000 written by Z. X, in order to defraud B, adds a cipher to the 10,000 and makes the sum 100000 intending that it may be delivered by B that Z so wrote the letter. A has committed forgery.
  2. A picks up a cheque on a banker signed by Himanshu, 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.

What Constitutes Forgery?

The very basis of the offence is the making of the false documents with the criminal intent to cause damage to any person. The making of a false document with the criminal intent to cause damage to any person. The making of a false document by itself is not punishable in The Indian Penal Court (IPC) under the provision of Chapter XVIII dealing with the offences related to document.

Forgery implies false document, signature or other imitation of the object of utility used with the intent to deceive another. Those who commit forgery are usually charged with the crime of fraud. Objects of the forgery include contracts, identification cards, and legal certificates. The most common form of forgery includes signing someone else’s name to cheque. Objects, data, and documents can also be forged. Legal contracts, historical paper, art objects, certificates, licenses, identification cards can also be forged. Consumer goods and Currency can also be forged but this crime is usually referred to as counterfeiting.

The basic elements of forgery include:

In most of the jurisdiction, the crime of forgery is not imposed unless it is done with the intent to commit fraud larceny. For example, the work of art can be replicated or copied without any crime being committed unless someone attempted to sell or represent the original copies. In such cases, the act would be considered an illegal forgery. 

Forgery also includes the creation of fraudulent or fake documents. For instance, it can involve photocopying of the person’s signature and then artificially placing it on a document without their knowledge or consent. Moreover, On the grand scale forgery occurs in the field of art and literature.

Identity theft is a crime wherein the defendant unjustly acquires and uses another’s person personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception typically for budgetary gain.

Initially, states have treated identity theft as deceptive imitation forgery or as theft by deception.

Section 468 pertains only to the cases where forgery is for the purpose of cheating. Forgery has been explained before as concerning the presence of one or other of the two elements of dishonesty or fraud.

Proof: the prosecution has to prove that the:

Forgery Law in India

Section 465 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the penalty for forgery in India. As per this Section, the offence is punishable by a jail cycle elongating up to 2 years or fine or both. It is a non-cognizable, bailable offence in India that is triable by a Magistrate of the first class. Nevertheless, this is not a compoundable offence.

Scope of Sections 463, 464 And 465 of Indian Penal Code 1860

According to Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code states that whoever misuses any paper format, computer records, important documents, identity cards or etc publicly or personally or infringing any contract shall be punishable for 2 years. It is applicable to all the citizens of India irrespective of the place or territory. The word “offence” covers every act committed outside India which, if committed in India, would be guilty under this Code. For instance, a person X who is a citizen of India commits a murder in Uganda. He can be tried and convicted of murder in any place in India in any situation which he may be found for further reference do refer to the case S. L. Goswami vs High Court Of Madhya Pradesh.

Section 464 states how the forgery of the documents occurs. Under section 464 IPC. It makes it explicit that only the one who makes a false document can be held liable under the aforesaid provision. It must be made clear in mind that, where there exists no doubtfulness, there lies no scope for understanding. As referred in the case Sheila Sebastian vs R.Jawaharaj, where Making an invalid document-A person is said to make a fake or invalid document or false electronic record First.—Who fraudulently or dishonestly constitutes;

with the intention of making it to be believed that such document or portion of document, electronic record or electronic signature was made, signed, sealed, accomplished, transmitted or affixed by or by the authorization of a person by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed, executed or affixed.

Punishment for Forgery

Section 465 of the Indian Penal Code describes Punishment for forgery. According to this section, Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of jail term either description for a span which may extend to two years or with the penalty, or with both. Under IPC it is a non-cognizable offence. If the forgery is of a promissory note of the Central Government then it is Cognizable.

In the case of Ram Narain Poply v. Central Bureau of Investigation, the court stated that the term forgery as used in the statute is used in its ordinary and popular acceptance. In order to constitute forgery, the first essential is that the accused should have made a false document. The false document must be made with an intention to cause harm or injury to the public or to any class of society or to any community.

Making a False Document or False Electronic Record

Under section 464 defines False document, when a document needs to be a false document, it is not mandatory that it must be a comprehensive document. Nevertheless, if a document, say a deed of sale is exposed before any signature, in part or in full, is put thereon, then, the deed will not be treated as a false document in as much as the offence will still remain at the stage of formation, but if the accused is caught, while signing such a deed, the offender can be declared to have been caught, when the offence had gone exceeding the stage of preparation and had already entered into the zone of attempt to commit the offence of forgery. Therefore, before the practice of the signing of deed originates, the ‘making’ of the false document will prevail under process and the crime will prevail within the stage of ‘preparation’. It will be just like forming a duplicate key to a lock for committing theft or procuring of poison for committing murder. For merely making such a key, even if the planned offence is theft, one cannot be held to have attempted to commit the offence of robbery. Similarly, procuring poison, in itself, will not establish the offence of attempt to commit murder, though the objective might have been to serve poison to a specific person. The law punishes a man not for sinful intention, but for the overt act done.

Three Forms of Making False Documents 

For the purpose of the subject of identification and comparison of signature and writing, forgery may be classified as;

  1. Simulated or copied forgery: In this variety of forgery, the forger chooses a model signature or writing and tries to replicate the design of letters and other broad features depending upon his ability, practice, and competency. Such an attempt in most cases ends in a crude forgery, however, in some cases, the forger is competent enough to make a simulation which at first sight may appear to be accurate and may be passed as real by those who compare only the general outline of letters and gives little attention to the line quality and other minute details. 
  2. Traced forgery: This means reproducing the exact copy of the original signature. Traced forgery is accomplished by using carbon paper, indented tracing, tracing paper, transmitted light or scanned image.
  3. Forgery by memory: It belongs to the signature or writing prepared of the material by the mental impressions of forms and letters of signatures or writings of the actual writer without examining any model or writing at the time of forgery.
  4. Forgery by impersonation: When a person nearly writes or signs the name of another person in his own handwriting in a normal manner rather than expressing himself to be that person with some motive involved.

Making False Documents—Some Illustrations

Making a false document is a serious matter. Someone convicted of this act could face heavy penalties or years of imprisonment, probably both. There are many techniques to falsify documents. For instance, if you respond to questions on a form by providing false data or use company letterhead without authorization, you could run afoul of the law. Forging a signature comes supporting this category as does the act of altering, covering or destroying records.

The popularity of Real Estate Forgery 

A complete example of document falsification is real estate forgery, which appears to be on the increase. This is a project whereby a homeowner’s signature is forged on a property deed so that the forger can challenge title to the property being transferred. The forger uses forged identification to get the deed notarized. Once that is done, the scammer gets the deed registered and practices it to take out a mortgage loan, then disappears with the funds. In due course, the bank begins foreclosure proceedings against the real homeowner, who, of course, had no idea a scam had occurred.

Altering of Facts

The act of altering is an instance of document falsification, which is a white-collar crime. More often, the struggle is quite sophisticated, but to a qualified investigator, this kind of illegal activity is often easy to detect. Sometimes, it is found that report entries do not match properly or that the reports have been completed by the same person every day of the year, implying that this flatware individual never demands a vacation or a weekend off. The investigator might see that the handwriting is always the same and that the same pen is always used in performing the records, which leads to the assumption that the documents were completed in organized batches.

Alteration of Birth Dates

Alteration in the date of birth can be executed by Government servant only within five years of his entry into Government service, with the sanction of a Ministry or Department of the Central Government, etc. subject to the subsequent conditions;

  1. Prayer in this regard is made within five years of his entry into government service;
  2. It is clearly ascertained that a genuine bonafide mistake has occurred; and
  3. The date of birth so modified would not make him incompetent to appear in any school or University or Union Public Service Commission examination in which he had appeared, or for entry into Government service on the date on which he first appeared at such examination or on the date on which he entered Government service.

In the case of Union of India vs, Harnam Singh judgment held by the Supreme Court observed that in regard to government servants who had joined government service prior to 1979 the revision of date of birth should be made within a period of five years from 1979. The Supreme court also held that “Inordinate and unexplained delay or laches on the part of the respondent to seek the necessary correction would, in any case, have justified the refusal of relief to him.” Even if the respondent had sought correction on the date of birth within five years after 1979, the earlier delay would not have non-suited him but he did not seek correction of the date of birth during the period of five years after the incorporation of note 5 to Fundamental Rule 56 in 1979 either. His inaction for all this period of about thirty-five years from the date of joining service, therefore, precludes him from showing that the entry of his date of birth in service record was not correct”. 

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Forged Document Comprehends Creating a New Document 

Legal provisions concerning forming a fake document under section 464 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Making a false document:

Section 464 of the Indian Penal Code provides that: ‘A person is said to make a false document or false electronic record’ who-



Who without statutory 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, accomplished with digital signature either by himself or by any other persons, whether such person be alive or dead at the time of such modification; or


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

For instance: X without B’s authority writes a letter and signs it in B’s name certifying to X’s character, aiming to obtain employment under Z. X 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: A man’s signature of his own name might amount to forgery.

‘Making’ also covers making documents through mechanical means. It is essential that engineers document the design process so that they can communicate it to others and ensure no information is lost. It is also critical for reliable decision-makers to approve the project and move it forward. The information can also help prove originality in a patent application or, in the case of a lawsuit, show that professional design procedures were followed.

Additions and Alterations to Documents 

Under these circumstances, the document in issue has been challenged due to some alteration of the document’s text by the addition or deletion of text, numerals, dates, signatures or agreements. For instance, the date or amount of a business agreement or contract has been altered to fraudulently obtain additional property, money or altering the amount of a cheque for financial gain. Drexler Document Laboratory, LLC used state-of-the-art instrumentation to detect additions and deletions. The tests are non-destructive and consequences of illumination reactions are documented. It is noted that this examination can solely be performed on the “original” document. In addition, experiments of this type, because of the non-portability of the equipment demanded, must be conducted in the laboratory.

When Attestation would be Forgery

An attestation is a confirmation by a witness that an instrument has been performed in his or her presence according to the formalities expected by law. It is not the same as an Acknowledgment, a statement by the creator of a document that establishes its authenticity. For proving a forgery of Attestation the following cases are to be referred Motisinh Gambhirsinh vs the State, herein Supreme Court in the judgment held that before an attestation can amount to forgery, one of the main essential elements is that it must be made or signed by the person whom it does not indicate to be made or signed. Furthermore, State Of Himachal Pradesh vs Singhi Ram, in this case the Board of School Education issued a forged mark sheet to respondent No. 2 only on the command of the respondent. 

Ante-dating a Document

It is also known as “backdate”. An antedate is a date registered on a legal contract or cheque that is preceding the actual date of occurrence. The act of antedating is seen in the case, more precisely refers to the case law Mangal Singh vs the State

Execution without Authority

Executing without Authority begins by putting the concept of influence within the larger context of environmental, organizational, network, relational and interpersonal factors. It breaks weight down into a series of skills, moving beyond the assumption that influence is simply the product of personal charm, and instead, gives participants the tools needed to negotiate the political landscape of organizations. Participants study the foundation of effective leadership and how to apply a powerful methodology for resolving performance challenges in environments where power cannot be exerted by one individual over another. They also discover how to build networks by overcoming internal barriers and creating new contacts. Finally, execution without authority provides the necessary tools to be more influential on both a personal and more strategic level.

Whenever we face that troublesome experience “You are not authorized to use transaction XYZ” in an SAP system, it usually blocks or workflows. Quite usually we are developers in need of some tool that the SAP Basis admin has unknowingly blocked for us.

Fraudulent Alteration

Fraudulent Alteration involves the material alteration to a Telefacsimile for a fraudulent purpose by a person other than the person who signed and adjusted the instrument.

Forging a Document by Affixing Own Signature

This is an important clarification to Section 464, ‘A man’s signature of his own name may amount to forgery’ which can be explained through the given illustration.


From both the preceding illustrations, it is quite clear that a man’s signature of his own name may also amount to forgery.

Intention Not Essential Component 

Fraud is a deliberate act that results in a material misstatement in financial statements that are the subject of an audit. Two types of misstatements are related to the auditor’s opinion of fraud—misstatements arising from fraudulent financial reporting and misstatements arising from misappropriation of assets.

Fraudulent financial reporting may be accomplished by the following:

Some individuals possess an attitude, character, or set of ethical values that enable them to deliberately and intentionally commit a dishonest act. However, even otherwise honest individuals can commit fraud in an environment that imposes adequate pressure on them. The higher the incentive or pressure, the more likely an individual will be able to justify the acceptability of committing fraud.

Forgery: Intention, Dishonesty and Fraud Compared 

Falsification of documents, forgery, and fraud are classified as white color crime offences. To establish successful prosecution intention, dishonesty and fraud the prosecutor and claimant must prove the purpose i.e intention and conduct of the accused person and the presumption of intention that fall under a corresponding statutory provision. Consequently, forgery and falsification of documents are the mechanisms to commit fraud. Fraud can be defined as certain activities such as theft, corruption, conspiracy, cash laundering, bribery and corruption. Fraud basically involves using a trick to dishonestly make a personal gain for oneself and create a loss for another. The scope of this section develop two offences i.e. [1] falsifying of accounts and [2] making or abetting the making of false entry, or altering, or abetting the omission or alteration of any entry. These two sections had been read separately and autonomously. However, in forgery cases, the court approach is varied. The presumption of possession has been used in order to determine that there are intention and knowledge over the matter. Three conditions commonly are present when fraud occurs. First, the management or other representatives have an incentive or are under pressure, which provides a reason to commit fraud. Second, conditions exist- for example, the inadequacy of controls, ineffective controls, or the ability of management to revoke controls- that provide an opportunity for a fraud to be executed. Third, those involved are able to reconcile committing a fraudulent act. 

Aggravated Forms of Forgery

The aggravated forms of forgery are:

  1. Forgery of a record in a court of justice or register of birth, baptism, marriage or burial or a certificate of an authority to institute or defend a suit or a power of attorney; Sec. 466.
  2. Forgery of a valuable security or will: Sec 467.

Defences in a Charge of Forgery

The following are the defences available to a person charged with forgery:

  1. That he did not make the false document or a part of it, or
  2. That the making of the document was not with the dishonest intent:

3. That the accused had the complaint’s authority to sign the complaint’s name.

Forgery of a Record of Court or Public Register

Legal provisions considering for forgery of record of Court, Public register etc. come under section 466 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

For forgery of record of Court, Public register

Whoever forges a document or an electronic record, purporting to be a record or proceeding of or in a Court of Justice, or a register of birth, baptism, marriage or burial, or a register kept by a public servant as such, or a certificate or document purporting to be made by a public servant in his official capacity, or an authority to institute or defend a suit, or to take any proceedings therein, or to confess judgment, or a power of attorney, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Scope of Section 466

Section 466 deals with forgery of the following types of documents:

  1. Court records and pleadings;
  2. Register of birth, death, rebirth, marriage or register maintained by a public servant as such;
  3. Certificate or document purporting to be performed by a public servant in his official capacity; or
  4. An authority to replace or defend a suit, or to take any proceedings therein, or to confer judgment; or
  5. A Power of attorney.

Forgery of a Valuable Security or Will, etc

The words ‘valuable security‘ symbolises a document which is, or indicates to be, a document whereby any legal right is formed, extended, transferred, restricted, extinguished or released, or whereby any person recognises that he lies under legal liability or has not authorized for a certain legal rights.

P.N. Parthasarthy And Others vs G.K. Srinivasa Rao 

The Person who commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either mentioned term which may extend for two years, or with fine or with both Section 467. Forgery of valuable security, will, etc.

Classification of Offence

Para I: Punishment: Imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for 10 years and fine-Non-cognizable- and Non-bailable-Triable under Magistrate of the first class- Non-compoundable.

Scope of Section 467

Section 467 of IPC deals with forgery relating to Valuable Security or will. Whoever forges a document which implies to be a valuable security or a will, or an authority to adopt a son, or which implies to give authority to any person to make or transfer any valuable security or to receive the principal, interest or dividends thereon or to receive or transfer any money, movable property, or valuable security to be an acquittance or receipt authenticating the payment of money, or an acquittance or receipt for the shipment of any movable property or valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to penalty.

Forgery for Purpose of Cheating

Forgery which is an offence under the IPC 1860 is defined under Section 463. This section refers to a specific case of forgery in which the document is made subsidiary to cheating which is the main purpose of the offender. The main distinction between cheating and forgery is that in cheating the deception is oral on the other hand in forgery it is in writing.

Scope of Section 468

Section 468 applies only to the case where forgery is for the purpose of cheating. It has been described as involving the proximity of one or other of the two elements of dishonesty or fraud. Forgery is thus a means to an end, that end being the wrongful possession or retention of property. This must be the intention of the forger, thoughts are not necessary for the cheating motive which makes him the abettor of the cheat.


The prosecution has to establish:

To secure a conviction under Section 468 of IPC, the burden of proof lies on the ingredients of Section 463. For further reference do refer to the case State of Orissa vs. Rabindra Nath Sahu 2002.

Forgery for Purpose of Harming Reputation

Whoever commits forgery, expecting that the document or electronic record forged shall injure the reputation of any party, or knowing that it is likely to be practised for that purpose, shall be penalised with imprisonment of either description for a term which may continue to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Using a Forged Document as Genuine

According to Section 471 of IPC using a forged document as genuine is a cognizable offence. It states that whoever fraudulently or dishonestly accepts as the genuine document which he knows or has ground to believe to be a forged document, shall be punished in the corresponding manner as if he had forged such document.

Case Laws


Supreme Court, in this case, ruled that the command of forgery cannot be imposed on a person who is not a maker of the same. 

The court also held that until and unless the components of Section.463 are satisfied an individual cant be convicted under section 465 by solely relying upon the ingredients of S.464, as an offence of forgery will remain incomplete. 


It is a landmark case, where the Supreme Court stated that a person is said to have made a ‘false document’ if:

The Supreme Court also held that to get a condemnation under section 465 of IPC false document must have been made with an intention. 


The Supreme Court held that a person is said to obtain a false document or record if he satisfies one of the three conditions as mentioned herein before and provided for under the said section:

“Intent to Defraud’ Not Synonymous With ‘Intent to Deceive’ 

Whoever makes any false document or part of a document, with the desire to cause the injurious deception is usually intended only as a means to an end.

There is no specific allegation regarding the manner in which all the accused were involved in Forgery, then the criminal proceeding against the accused needs to be quashed.

Fabricating Forged Bail Orders Causes Damage to Public At Large

The State Of U.P vs Ranjit Singh 1999

In this view of the matter if by virtue of preparing a forged document indicating it to be a document of a court of justice and by virtue of such document a person who is not authorised to be released on bail could be released then, unquestionably damage or injury has been caused to the public at large and, therefore, subsequent damages are to be paid.

Making Counterfeit Seal, etc, With Intent to Commit Forgery 

Making a seal, plate etc., with the intention to commit a forgery punishable otherwise than under section 467 of the Indian Penal Code, or possessing with like the purpose of any such seal, plate, etc and knowing the same to be counterfeit. Punishment with Imprisonment for 7 years and fine are liable.

Classification of Offence

Punishment: there shall be Imprisonment for 7 years and fine.

Cognizable offence- It is Bailable offence/Triable by Magistrate of the first class/Non-compoundable.

Fraudulent Cancellation or Destruction, etc, of Valuable Security, Will, etc

It comes under section 477 of IPC and is a non-bailable, compoundable offence with imprisonment for life or 7 years or subsequent penalty to be imposed. It states “Whoever fraudulently or dishonestly, or with intent to cause damage or injury to the public or to any person, cancels, destroys or defaces, or attempts to cancel, destroy or deface, or secretes or attempts to secrete any document which is or purports to be a will, or an authority to adopt a son or any valuable security, or commits mischief in respect of such documents, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Falsification of Accounts

Section 477A, which deals with falsification of account can be analysed as follows:

Any person being a clerk, officer or servant willfully and with intent to defraud-


It shall be sufficient in any charge under this section to claim a general intent to defraud without naming any specific person intended to be defrauded any specific sum of money intended to be the subject of the fraud or any selective day on which the offence was committed.

Ingredients of Section 477A

The person charged must be a clerk, an officer or a servant.

He must with intend to wilfully defraud-

In the case of Tan Ker Loo v. Pendakwaraya 2011, the court ruled the knowledge over and falsifying the documents is essential to determine liabilities. The court emphasized the element of knowledge as an important aspect for determining the conviction for falsifying the specific documents for the purpose of defrauding others and obtaining specific financial advantages. 


It should be noted that under Section 463 intention is essential, five situations are provided in the section. The intention is the essence of the offence of forgery. To constitute it, some damage or injury must be intended to be caused by the false document to an individual or to the public.

Under section 464, it is stated that the act should be done dishonestly or fraudulently. Also, the definition given in Section 463 is in itself subjected to section 464 that is defining the essential ingredient of section 463. So, it can be said that whichever of the elements provided in section 463 is applicable, it should have been done fraudulently or dishonestly to support the allegation of forgery.

A charge of forgery often boils down to intention, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the intention of accused beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution also needs to prove various elements that are discussed above in brief.


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