SC’s Recent Verdict on Forgery and Making of False Document


May 16, 2018

Case name: Sheila Sebastian vs R. Jawaharaj


Date of Judgment: May 11, 2018

In the case at hand, the complainant alleged that accused no. 1 with the aid of an imposter who by impersonating as Mrs. Doris Victor (the owner of impugned property) created a Power of Attorney (hereinafter ‘PoA’) in his name as if he was her agent. It was further alleged that, using the aforesaid PoA the accused no. 1, attempted to transfer the property of complainant by executing a mortgage deed in favour of accused no. 2.

After getting the information about the aforesaid transaction, the owner of the property Mrs. Doris Victor registered FIR against accused for cheating.

The Trial Court convicted both accused and accused no. 2 was convicted for offence under Section 465 of Indian Penal Code (punishment for forgery). However, the High Court in appeal acquitted the accused no. 1 and 2 holding that no case was made out under Section 465 of Indian Penal Code or for offence under Section 420 of IPC (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) being a consequential one, equally cannot be sustained.

Aggrieved by the aforesaid judgment of High Court, the appellant in this case approached the Supreme Court. The Appellant contended that the High Court incorrectly interpreted Section 464 of IPC which mandates that anyone who makes a false document is guilty of forgery.

Bench’s Verdict

The Supreme Court in the case upheld the High Court’s order and made the following observations:

  • That a close scrutiny of the provisions makes it clear that, Section 463 defines the offence of forgery, while Section 464 of IPC substantiates the same by providing an answer as to when a false document could be said to have been made for the purpose of committing an offence of forgery under Section 463. That Section 464 of IPC defines one of the ingredients of forgery i.e. making of a false document. Further, Section 465 of Indian Penal Code provides punishment for the commission of the offence of forgery.
  • That in order to sustain a conviction under Section 465 of Indian Penal Code, first it has to be proved that forgery was committed under Section 463, implying that ingredients under Section 464 of IPC should also be satisfied. Therefore unless and until ingredients under Section 463 are satisfied a person cannot be convicted under Section 465 of Indian Penal Code by solely relying on the ingredients of Section 464 of IPC, as the offence of forgery would remain incomplete.
  • The Supreme Court in the case also quoted Collin J. in Dickins v. Gill, (1896) 2 QB 310, a case dealing with the possession and making of fictitious stamp wherein he stated that “to make”, in itself involves conscious act on the part of the maker. Therefore, an offence of forgery cannot lie against a person who has not created it or signed it.
  • For Conviction u/Section 465 of Indian Penal Code False Document shall be made with the intention – The Supreme Court made reference to its judgment in the case of Ibrahim and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr.[1] wherein it was held that there is a fundamental difference between a person executing a sale deed claiming that the property conveyed is his property, and a person executing a sale deed by impersonating the owner or falsely claiming to be authorised or empowered by the owner, to execute the deed on owner’s behalf.
  • That to fall under category of `false documents’, it is not sufficient that a document has been made or executed dishonestly or fraudulently. There is a further requirement that it should have been made with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document was made or executed by, or by the authority of a person, by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made or executed.
  • That when a document is executed by a person claiming a property which is not his, he is not claiming that he is someone else nor is he claiming that he is authorised by someone else. Therefore, execution of such document (purporting to convey some property of which he is not the owner) is not execution of a false document as defined under Section 464 of IPCof the Code. If what is executed is not a false document, there is no forgery
  • That a charge of forgery cannot be imposed on a person who is not the maker of the same. That making of a document is different than causing it to be made. As Explanation 2 to Section 464 of IPCfurther clarifies that, for constituting an offence under Section 464 it is imperative that a false document is made and the accused person is the maker of the same, otherwise the accused person is not liable for the offence of forgery.
  • Forgery and False Document- The definition of “false document” is a part of the definition of “forgery”. Both must be read together. ‘Forgery’ and ‘Fraud’ are essentially matters of evidence which could be proved as a fact by direct evidence or by inferences drawn from proved facts.
  • With reference to the facts of the instant case, the Court stated that there was no finding recorded by the trial Court that the respondents have made any false document or part of the document/record to execute mortgage deed under the guise of that ‘false document’.

In view of the aforesaid, the Apex Court inferred Section 464 of the IPC makes it clear that only the one who makes a false document can be held liable under the aforesaid provision. It must be borne in mind that, where there exists no ambiguity, there lies no scope for interpretation.

The entire case can be accessed here.





[1] (2009) 8 SCC 751