FORGERY: A Document that is void ab initio

Forgery is defined under Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.

Section 463 of IPC states:

‘Whoever makes any false document or false electronic record, with intent to cause damage or injury, to the public or any person, or to support any claim or title, or to cause any person to part with the property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed, commits forgery’.

It is implied as forming a forged document or record with an evil intent to cause injury to any person or property to support any forged claim or title.

Therefore, forgery is performed to mislead people. Forgery also includes committing identity theft by acquiring personal data of a person and using the data for deception and monetary gains.

Falsifying documents

As per section 464 of IPC, A false document is,

A document signed, sealed, stamped, or marked indicating the execution of that document without the proper authority; with a dishonest intention, to make the other party believe that such sign, seal, and execution is done by the authority of the person authorised to do so it.

  • Forger: A person who fraudulently or dishonestly causes anyone to sign, seal, execute, or reconstruct a document without the expressed assent of the victim through deception, trickery, and other unscrupulous methods is called a forger.

What constitutes forgery according to the IPC?

A case of forgery is constituted in the following cases:

  • Creation of fake document: Sign, seal, or stamp are forged to create fake documents for execution without the person’s authority to authorise it.
  • Deception: An element of deception should be included it cannot get established without the act of misleading and deceiving another person.

    The fraudulent intention on the part of a forger-

    The accused commits this offence intending to gain monetary benefit.

  • Identity theft of person’s details-

    The details that the accused acquires the personal data for deception.

Scope of Sections 463, 464 and 465 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in Forgery

  • Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code

    The IPC,1860, Section 463, defines the offence of forgery.

    In the case of Sheila Sebastian v. R. Jawaharaj & Ors ( 2018) 7 SCC 581, the Supreme Court stated:

    ‘Section 463 defines forgery while Section 464 substantiates the same by stating when a forged document or electronic record could be said to be made for the purpose to constitute forgery’

  • Section 464 of the Indian Penal Code

    Section 464 defines making a false record that constitutes the offence under the former.

    The section states the elements to be satisfied to establish that the document or electronic record used is fraudulent and false.

    In the case of Mohd. Ibrahim v. the State of Bihar (2009) 8 SCC 751, a person is said to have made a false document in following cases:

    1. He/she made a document claiming to be someone else or authorised by someone else.
    2. He altered or tampered with a document.
    3. He obtained a document performing deception or from a person who is under unsoundness of mind or intoxication.

A document obtained or made without any intention to deceive or cause harm to anyone does not amount to forgery.

Punishment for Forgery

Section 465 of the IPC, 1860, prescribes punishment for the offence.

According to the section:

‘Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years or with fine or with both’.

The offence is non-cognizable, bailable, triable by a magistrate of first-class and non-compoundable.

Some Examples of Forgery

Some examples of forgery are as follows:

  • Altering facts is a method of creating fake documents. In case a person alters the points in a dead man’s will and copies his signature to obtain monetary benefit from the deceased’s property, then the case is forgery.
  • Ante-dating denotes mentioning a backdate on a document from the actual date of registration.
  • Forged attestation without the presence of a witness or signed by the person whom it does not indicate to be signed.
  • Fraudulent alteration is a type of forgery.
    In fraudulent alteration, A has a credit letter on B for rupees 10,000 written by Z. Here, A defrauds B, adds a cypher to the 10,000, and makes the sum 1,00,000 so that he draws a larger amount than intended.

Offence of forgery

When forgery is aggravated, then it is dealt with in Sections 466 to 469, such as forgery of a court record, public register, valuable security, and will. However, punishment varies in each case.

Section 471 fixes the liability of the accused person by verifying whether he/she knows that such a document was forged. Here, Sections 472 to 476 deal with cases of counterfeit seals, plates, or instruments used for creating forged documents.


Forgery is covered in Section 463 and is subjected to Section 464 of IPC. Section 464 states that the act should be performed maliciously and elements are laid to satisfy and states a document as forged and false.

Section 465 of the IPC prescribes the punishment for the offence as imprisonment up to 2 years along with a fine. Certain cases in which forgery is committed in the aggravated form are dealt under Sections 466 to 469 of IPC. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


Which section of the IPC, 1860, defines the document under the category of a forged document?

Section 470 of IPC, 1860.

What is the punishment for forgery of valuable security, will?

Imprisonment up to 7 years and fine under Section 477 of IPC, 1860.

In which case did the Madras high court hold that using a forged passport as genuine to gain entry into India is a punishable offence?

In the case Daniel Hailey Walcott v. State of Madras AIR 1968 Mad. 349, the court declared that using a forged passport to gain entry into India is a punishable offence.

Criminal Law