Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Forgery : Offence relating to Documents


The offence of Forgery is in vogue since the time writing was invented. In Roman Law, it was enacted by the lex cornelia de falsies. In modern English Common law; forgery is the making of a false instrument with intent to deceive.

Under the Indian Penal Code, the law relating to forgery have been laid down in sections 463 to 477-A.

According to English Common law, 'every instrument which fraudulently purports to be that which it is not' is forgery. In India, also the authors of the code have adopted the above principle in laying down in section 463 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Thus it is clear that the object  of the forgery is normally to cheat, to cause wrongful distribution of property by means of a false document. The main difference between cheating and forgery is that in cheating the deception is oral, whereas in forgery it is in writing. Forgery can thus be described as merely the means to achieve an end; the end being deception.

Statutory Provisions: The offence of Forgery is made of mainly two provisions of the Indian Penal Code i.e. sections 463 and 464.

Section 463 says: '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.'


  • Thus forgery has to be satisfied with following essential ingredients: firstly the making of a false document or part of it (actus rea) and secondly (mens rea) such making should be with intent to 
          (a) cause damage or injury to (i) the public; or (ii) to any person, or
          (b) support any claim or title, or
          (c) cause any person to part with property,m or
          (d) enter into any express or implied contract, or
          (e) commit fraud or that fraud may be committed.


Section 464 explains about the making of a false documents. Making false documents is the soul of the offence of the forgery. But it is essential that the false document, when made, must either appear on its face to be, or be in fact one, which, if true, would possess some legal validity, or in other words, must be legally capable of effectivating the fraud intended.

The three forms of making false document according to section 464 of IPC are
(i) Dishonestly or fraudulently making, signing, sealing, or executing a document with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document was made by the authority of  a person by whom the maker knows that it was not made.
(ii) Dishonest, or fraudulent cancellation or alteration of a document in its material part without lawful authority.
(iii) Dishonestly or fraudulently causing another person to execute, or alter a document with the knowledge that the maker thereof does not know the contents of the documents or the nature of the alteration by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication.

Explanation 1 to the section 464 says 'A man's signature of his own name may amount to forgery'.
e.g. 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.

Explanation 2 says 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 forgery.
e.g. 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.


Disclaimer: Above information is for general use. Consult your lawyer before acting.