When a person is said to make a false document? Can a man commit forgery by signing his own name?
Authored By- Amit Patel
Keywords- Forgery, fraud, document, sign.
This article will look into the various aspects of the law and its applicability of forgery in India; it will further analyze the sections 463, 464, and 465 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Also, it will deal with the forms of Forgery like Forgery as the purpose of Cheating, Forgery for the purpose of harming one's Reputation. At last, it will deal with the aspects of falsification of accounts, fraudulent cancellation or destruction, etc of valuable property.
Ever since the invention of writing has taken, the offense of forgery also came into existence. In the ancient Roman law, it was enacted by the lexcorenelia de falsis which means that a person who falsely writes, seals, publicly reads, or foists in a forged will or other document or makes, cuts, molds, a spurious seal willfully and with the malicious intention should be punished—if a man with deportation, and if a slave, with death. Removal or harming of inscriptions of tombs was also severely punished in Rome.
However, with the promulgation of the Forgery Act 1913 by the British empire, forgery became a statutorily official offense. Section 1(10) of the Act defines forgery as: ‘making a false document in order that it may be genuine. It defines the basic concept of forgery; rather offenses are created by other sections which impose penalties ranging from two years’ imprisonment to life, and the compensation depending on the document forged and the intent with which it was forged.
However, the Forgery Act, 1913 was repealed when the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act, 1981 came in force. Section 1 of the Act, states the idea of forgery which is reflected in s 1(1) of the 1913 Act, holds a person guilty of ‘forgery’ when he or she, with the intent to use or induce somebody to accept a document as genuine which in actual is forged, ‘makes a false instrument’.
Forgery under IPC
Section 463 defines forgery
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.
Section 463- Making a false document
A person is said to make a false document or false electronic record, First who dishonestly or fraudulently make signs, seals or executes a document or part of a document or transmits any electronic record or affixes electronic signature on any electronic record and makes any mark denoting the execution or the authenticity of the signature.
With the malicious intention and to be believed that such document or any part of such document, electronic record or signature was made, signed, sealed or executed by the authority of such person by whom or by whose authority one knows that it was not made and in actual it was forged.
Secondly, it should be without any lawful authority or fraudulently with the malice or by cancellation or otherwise alters a document or in any material part of the document thereof after it has been made, executed, or affixed with electronic signature either by himself or by any other person.
Forgery by signing his own name defined by the cases
In the case of People v. Mau, it was held by the foreign court that one is guilty of forgery although he himself signed and executed the instrument in his own name, if the document is false in any material part, and knows to induce another to present it as a genuine and authentic document. The statute involved was not only limited to the provision of forgery of the name of the particular person authorized to make the authentic matter of a public nature, or electronic record, but it was also held to apply to such persons authorized to make such a record and did so with the knowledge that its contents were false and untrue, and done with a malicious intention to defraud.
Whereas in the Indian court in the case of Padam Chand and Ors. vs. The State of Bihar and Ors. It was held that A person may be found guilty of 'forgery' in signing fraudulently his or her name when it is the same as the name of the other person who should have signed, provided that the intent should be malicious to get the enrichment of other. However, if there was no intention to deceive the other person or to deceive others into believing that the person who signed is that person, then there is no 'forgery'. Also, a person cannot commit the act of 'forgery' by signing his name to a document, since the signer is both the actual and apparent maker of that document. Moreover, in the case where one makes his signature in good faith, there can be no act of 'forgery'.
As in any criminal act in forgery also the intent of the person and the malice in the intent is one of the most important factors in determining the act of forgery. A man can also commit forgery by signing his own name if two persons have the identical name but the malicious intent is necessary to determine the falseness of the act.
Forgery Act 1913, § 1.  IPC 1860, § 463. Ib Id. People v. Mat, 36 N.E. (2d) 235 (1941).  Padam Chand & ors. V. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 470 Reference